If you’re taking part in the Winter Scripting Games 2014 and you’ve visited the site (http://scriptinggames.org/events.php?game_id=4) you’ll see that the Practice Event is now open! While you might still be choosing teams and registering yourselves it is worth at least reading through the Practice event to see what is expected of you. Written by Richard Siddaway this one is titled “Server Inventory”. Immediately into a read through you see why this is now a team event. In previous scripting games the tasks have been mostly simple things that you can achieve on your own in a few days or a week. They needed you to do some research and learn some new skills but they were definitely do-able by one person. The Server Inventory practice event, while something you could achieve on your own in a week, would probably not be as elegant as you would want for something you actually wanted to use.
The script that your team is required to produce for this event includes such functionality as:
- Scanning IP Address Ranges
- Querying for installed software
- Querying for installed service packs
- Querying Hardware Information
- Outputting reports including Graphical Representation where possible
- Input Validation
- Error Checking
- Help Text
- … it goes on
Now, that seems like a heck of a lot of stuff to be doing in a single script, but I think if this is a sign of the challenges to come (and I have no idea what they are at the moment) then this will be a great Games! If you’re looking at this list or the challenge instructions themselves (and I encourage you to read the instructions before you decide how you feel about it) and you are feeling overwhelmed or like this will be an uphill battle, stop yourself right there! Remember that:
- You will be working in teams, so you have each others skills and expertise to lean on
- Again, you will be working in teams, so when you break this down it becomes really manageable
- You have the advice and guidance of the Expert Coaches to lean on. For this reason I would advise you to upload your code as often as possible. Even if it is not quite right and not quite working, if it is viewable it is open to comments early on and potentially might save you from going down a bad road.
- When you finish this as a team you will have produced something that has immediate value to you in the real world
Isn’t this exactly what solving problems with PowerShell is all about? Breaking a problem down into pieces, tackling them each at a time to produce reusable components, collaborating with colleagues to build something bigger than you could do yourself and producing something that gives you an immediate return on that time invested – all while challenging yourselves and your current abilities? Awesome, the bigger the challenges, the bigger the sense of achievement you will feel at the end.
Using this event as a guide, as well as testing your PowerShell skills, the Games are going to test your ability to organise yourselves and your team. To work together to agree how the overall solution will flow, how it breaks down and how it fits together (i.e. what parts are functions, what objects those functions accept therefore what object the other functions should output and so forth …), it will test your ability to keep your commitments to your team for what you will deliver and your ability to ask for help when you need it – which I would say is the most important skill of all. Communication, as in the real world, will be key.
I am genuinely excited to see this challenge and I hope it is a sign of things to come. So grab your code editors and your team mates and sign up at http://scriptinggames.org now. If you are looking to work with others in the Singapore PowerShell User Group, please post on our Facebook Page. I’m really looking forward to coaching participants and to see how they tackle these awesome challenges.