Book Review: PowerShell in Depth 2nd Edition

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If you’re beyond the basics with PowerShell then you may not be sure where to go next. Intro books are too light, but advanced PowerShell-specific books are quite rare.

PowerShell in Depth targets intermediate-level and advanced users who want to master PowerShell to the fullest. It covers so many topics that I’d have trouble listing them all!

Scheduling background tasks, packaging scripts, advanced error handling, and detailed PowerShell security tips are all covered.

If you want to push deeper into the higher echelons of PowerShell then I would vehemently recommend this book.

Book Contents

The book spans a freakin’ huge 744 pages over 41 different chapters. Seriously this is the compendium of PowerShell if I’ve ever seen one.

The full chapter list is really long but I feel like it’s worth listing here. The 41 chapters are broken up into 4 different sections: PowerShell Fundamentals, PowerShell Management, PowerShell Scripting & Automation, along with Advanced PowerShell.

Here’s a list of all chapters in this book:

  1. Introduction
  2. PowerShell hosts
  3. Using the PowerShell help system
  4. The basics of PowerShell syntax
  5. Working with PSSnapins and modules
  6. Operators
  7. Working with objects
  8. The PowerShell pipeline
  9. Formatting
  10. PowerShell Remoting
  11. Background jobs and scheduling
  12. Working with credentials
  13. Regular expressions
  14. Working with HTML and XML data
  15. PSDrives and PSProviders
  16. Variables, arrays, hash tables, and script blocks
  17. PowerShell security
  18. Advanced PowerShell syntax
  19. PowerShell’s scripting language
  20. Basic scripts and functions
  21. Creating objects for output
  22. Scope
  23. PowerShell workflows
  24. Advanced syntax for scripts and functions
  25. Script modules and manifest modules
  26. Custom formatting views
  27. Custom type extensions
  28. Data language and internationalization
  29. Writing help
  30. Error handling techniques
  31. Debugging tools and techniques
  32. Functions that work like cmdlets
  33. Tips and tricks for creating reports
  34. Working with the Component Object Model (COM)
  35. Working with .NET Framework objects
  36. Accessing databases
  37. Proxy functions
  38. Building a GUI
  39. WMI and CIM
  40. Working with the web
  41. Desired State Configuration

You really need some level of basic PowerShell knowledge before approaching this title.

You should already understand how to use PowerShell in day-to-day tasks with basic scripting knowledge. Spend some time practicing before you grab this book.

Learning the basics cannot be overlooked before diving into this title.

However once you’re ready you’ll be blown away by how much content is packed into this book. Over 700+ pages I found incredible examples, workflows, code snippets and suggestions for PowerShell management that I’ve never even considered.

The chapters list above pretty much outlines everything you get. The author shares IT/server administration topics along with programming and scripting topics right from the shell environment. .NET programmers will enjoy the frameworks chapter and you learn a lot about object management & automation.

Everything in the book was written for PowerShell 3 but it does cover a lot of v4 exclusives in the updated 2nd edition. So this is really a book for PowerShell 3+.

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Anyone who loves the PowerShell environment and wants to move into more advanced scripting will want this book. It can act as a teaching guide with step-by-step tutorials or as a reference guide for looking up solutions.

Pros & Cons

I cannot even think of downsides to this incredible book. And trust me, I really want to bitch about something here.

If you’re a complete beginner and you get this book then you’ll definitely have a bad time. This is not for beginners and it’s exceptionally comprehensive in detail with remote access, CIM vs WMI, detailed networking, .NET framework access and so much more.

Just so long as you have some fundamental knowledge of PowerShell you’ll do fine with this book.

The author’s writing style is clear and to the point. No time wasted explaining basic terminology because you’re expected to be qualified and ready to read this type of book.

Assuming you are then you’ll have no trouble picking it up and immersing yourself. It covers more topics than I could have ever imagined and this is the book that every aspiring PowerShell master should have on their bookshelf.

Oh and if you buy a copy of the print book you get a free e-book version from Manning. Very few publishers do this and I wish more of them did because it’s such a great deal.

Who Is This For?

Intermediate or advanced PowerShell scripters and tech uses who want to master everything that PowerShell has to offer.

This book covers much more than any one person would ever need. Remote access, scheduling, security, advanced scripting and common workflows are just some of the more common subjects.

If you’re completely new to Windows or PowerShell then you should definitely start elsewhere.

Those who need more foundational knowledge should check out Windows PowerShell Programming for the Absolute Beginner. It covers the basics in a clear tone that’ll put you on the path to higher level PowerShell concepts.

And once you’re there I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of PowerShell in Depth.

The revised second edition adds more tips and corrects some basic typos from the first edition. It’s the ultimate PowerShell reference that every Windows user should have at their disposal.

Final Summary

This is not a refresher on the basics of PowerShell. Nor is this a generic intro guide for newcomers.

This is the ultimate desk reference and tutorial guide to mastering every single aspect of PowerShell use in any type of environment. Server admins, DevOps guys, programmers and Windows lovers will absolutely adore this book.

PowerShell in Depth is easily the best compilation of tips, resources, and workflow techniques for intermediate-to-advanced PowerShell users. You get a free ebook version with the print version so you can reference both and use them as you please.

I found all the material very approachable and I even got into some topics that were totally outside my comfort zone.

Windows power users and anyone with a fancy for PowerShell will find endless value from this book. It’s something you can reference over and over and still learn something new.

Review Rating: 5/5


Alex is a fullstack developer with years of experience working in digital agencies and as a freelancer. He writes about educational resources and tools for programmers building the future of the web.