Quick Learn – Give a Parameter a Default Value (Part II)

Part I: http://tommymaynard.com/quick-learn-give-a-parameter-a-default-value-2015
Part III: http://tommymaynard.com/quick-learn-give-a-parameter-a-default-value-part-iii-2016

An old co-worker and friend contacted me last week. We hadn’t chatted since the last time I was interviewing for a job — a job I have now (well, pretty close anyway). I remember telling him I wanted a job that allowed me to work with Windows PowerShell. While he probably wasn’t surprised to hear this job did just that, he might have been, to hear I had started this site — a site using my name, and all about PowerShell. It’s a pretty serious commitment to associate your name with a technology, and continue to provide new content.

He mentioned to me that he wasn’t aware of the $PSDefaultParameterValues preference variable until he read this post. No joke, but it’s exciting to know that something I wrote was helpful for him. You see, this isn’t your average intelligence IT Pro, no, this is walking, talking IT genius. You know the kind — one of the ones you’d hire first, if you opened your own consulting business. In fact, during that same first chat, I discovered that he spoke at the Microsoft Higher-Education Conference in October 2014. He’s definitely doing something right.

As last weekend passed, I occasionally thought about that $PSDefaultParameterValues post and decided I should add something more to it, especially since I highlighted what I would consider to be the less used approach for populating this variable. First off, for those that haven’t read the previous post, the $PSDefaultParameterValues variable allows you to specify a default value for a cmdlet’s, or function’s, parameter(s).

For example, if I wanted the Get-Help cmdlet to always include the -ShowWindow parameter, then I can add that default value to the cmdlet like so:

PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues
PS C:\> # Proof the variable is empty.
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues.Add('Get-Help:ShowWindow',$true)
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues

Name                           Value
----                           -----
Get-Help:ShowWindow            True

With this value set, every time we use the Get-Help cmdlet, it will include the -ShowWindow parameter, even though I don’t specifically enter it at the time the command is run. In the previous example, we use the .Add() method to add a key-value pair; however, I suspect that most people will actually be more likely to use a hash table to add the cmdlet and parameter, and its new, default parameter value. Here’s the same example as above using the hash table option.

PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValue
PS C:\> # Proof the variable is empty.
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues = @{'Get-Help:ShowWindow' = $true}
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues

Name                           Value
----                           -----
Get-Help:ShowWindow            True

Now for the reason I led with with .Add() method: If you use the hash table option above, and the variable is already populated, then it’s going to overwrite the value it’s already storing, unless we use the += assignment operator. Follow along in the next few examples under the assumption that $PSDefaultParameterValues, is already populated from the previous example.

PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues

Name                           Value
----                           -----
Get-Help:ShowWindow            True

PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues = @{'Get-ADUser:Server' = 'MyClosestDC'}
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues

Name                           Value
----                           -----
Get-ADUser:Server              MyClosestDC

In the example above, using the = assignment operator overwrote our Get-Help ShowWindow key-value pair, as it would with any populated variable. The idea here is that we either need to assign all the parameter default values at once (when using a hash table), or use the += assignment operator to append other key-value pairs. Here’s both ways:

PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues
PS C:\> # Proof the variable is empty.
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues = @{'Get-Help:ShowWindow' = $true;'Get-ADUser:Server' = 'MyClosestDC'}
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues

Name                           Value
----                           -----
Get-ADUser:Server              MyClosestDC
Get-Help:ShowWindow            True

PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues = $null
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues
PS C:\> # Proof the variable is empty.
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues = @{'Get-Help:ShowWindow' = $true}
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues += @{'Get-ADUser:Server' = 'MyClosestDC'}
PS C:\> $PSDefaultParameterValues

Name                           Value
----                           -----
Get-ADUser:Server              MyClosestDC
Get-Help:ShowWindow            True

That’s all there is to it. If you’re going to use a hash table and assign values to your $PSDefaultParameterValues at different times, then be sure to use the correct assignment operator, or use the .Add() method — it’s up to you. For me, I populate this variable in my profile, so overwriting it, is something in which I’m not concerned. Thanks for reading!

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