Years Too Late: My First ISE Snippet

Every time I start to write a new PowerShell function, I manually write the same block of text. No idea how many times I’ve done it, but I’ve finally decided to stop. Today, I wrote it for the last time.

$Text = @'
Function ___-_________ {
    Param (

    Begin {
    } # End Begin.

    Process {
    } # End Process.

    End {
    } # End End.
} # End Function: ___-_________.

I’ve known about ISE snippets for some time, but haven’t taken a minute to get my advanced function included. Well, that finally ended today. With the $Text variable assigned above, I ran the following command.

New-IseSnippet -Title BasicFunction -Description 'Basic Advanced Function.' -Text $Text -Author 'Tommy Maynard'

Well, what did this just do? In the most basic reply to that question, it added a new snippet — a reusable chunk of text — I can add to the ISE anytime I want. All I have to do is press Ctrl + J and select BasicFunction from the available options.

That may be all you need, but I was curious what this really did. To find out, I ran Get-IseSnippet and it returned a path — helpful.


    Directory: C:\Users\tommymaynard\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Snippets

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        9/27/2016   0:32 PM            867 BasicFunction.snippets.ps1xml

Then I ran Get-Content on the file to see what it was storing.

Get-Content -Path (Get-IseSnippet).FullName

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8' ?>
    <Snippets xmlns=''>
        <Snippet Version='1.0.0'

                <Description>Basic Advanced Function.</Description>
                <Author>Tommy Maynard</Author>

                <Script Language='PowerShell' CaretOffset='0'>
                    <![CDATA[Function ___-_________ { [CmdletBinding()] Param ( ) Begin { } # End Begin. Process { } # End Process. End { } # End End. } # End Function: ___-_________.]]>


So, there it is. Not only do I have my basic function snippet the next time I need it, I know that New-IseSnippet is writing an XML (.ps1xml) file to my Snippets directory in my Documents/WindowsPowerShell directory in my local profile. The date on my snippet and the directory indicate they were both created when I ran this command. I told you I hadn’t used snippets before.

Me being me, I ran Get-Command against New-IseSnippet and guess what? It’s a function; it’s not compiled code. Let’s take a look at it; let’s find where it decides whether to create the directory, or not.

Get-Command -Name New-IseSnippet

CommandType     Name                                               Version    Source
-----------     ----                                               -------    ------
Function        New-IseSnippet                               ISE

(Get-Command -Name New-IseSnippet).ScriptBlock

While I didn’t include the entire results of the last command, I’ll include what’s important for how it determined whether or not to create the Snippets directory. In this first part, the function creates a $snippetPath variable. In it, it stores the current user’s WindowsPowerShell directory path. Before writing that to the variable, Join-Path appends “Snippets” — the child path — to the end. That means that in the end, the $snippetPath variable contains C:\Users\tommymaynard\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Snippets.

$snippetPath = Join-Path (Split-Path $profile.CurrentUserCurrentHost) "Snippets"

In this section of the function, it runs Test-Path against $snippetPath, to determine if the path exists, or not. This cmdlet returns $true or $false depending on whether the path exists.

if (-not (Test-Path $snippetPath))
    $null = mkdir $snippetPath

If the path doesn’t exist, thanks to the -not, it executes the mkdir function against the path, and the directory is created. The next time New-IseSnippet function is run, the directory will already exists and this part of the function won’t be run.

Well, that’s it. I’m already looking forward to pressing Ctrl + J the next time I need to start a new advanced function.

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