Book Review - Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition

Introduction

Something a bit different for the blog post - a book review. I purchased a copy of the book Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition written by PowerShell legends, Don Jones and Jeffery Hicks. Here is my review of the book.

TL:DR I think this is an essential read for anyone wanting to learn PowerShell.

Book Overview

This is the Third Edition of the book and the latest one currently available. It is published by Manning Publications and is available in Paperback and Audiobook format. If you purchase the paperback you can register with Manning and get an eBook version - great deal.

The ISBN-10 for the book is 1617294160.

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Month of Lunches Format

This is format is very interesting for people learning a new technology. Section 1.4 of the book sums it up:

The idea behind this book is that you’ll read one chapter each day. You don’t have to read it during lunch, but each chapter should take you only about 40 minutes to read, giving you an extra 20 minutes to gobble down the rest of your sandwich and practice what the chapter showed you.

I have found this to be pretty much correct! You spend the bulk of the time reading the material, then at the end there is a set of lab questions to reinforce what you just read about.

The Book

There are 28 Chapters in the book:

  1. Before you begin
  2. Meet PowerShell
  3. Using the Help System
  4. Running Commands
  5. Working with providers
  6. The Pipeline
  7. Adding Commands
  8. Objects
  9. The Pipeline, Deeper
  10. Formatting
  11. Filtering and Comparisons
  12. A Practical Interlude
  13. Remote Control
  14. Using WMI
  15. Multitasking with Background Jobs
  16. Working with many Objects
  17. Security Alert
  18. Variables
  19. Input and Output
  20. Sessions
  21. You call this scripting?
  22. Improving your parameterized script
  23. Advanced remoting configuration
  24. Using regular expressions
  25. Additional random tips and tricks
  26. Using someone else’s script
  27. Never the end
  28. PowerShell Cheat Sheet

You can see the chapters start off simple with PowerShell history, the help system but then moves onto Objects, the Pipeline, Filtering, etc. Finally it finishes with some more advanced topics such as WMI, security, I/O, etc. The book is interspersed with tips and techniques.

The labs are found at the end of each chapter. They really help you grasp the concepts in the chapter. I found there is no need to resort the Google to solve the labs. Everything you need to accomplish them is covered in the chapter (and previous ones). I found the Labs really make you think and ‘properly’ use the help system. There are three review labs at the end that cover everything learnt in the book.

The book uses PowerShell v3.0 and up and required Windows 7 or newer. The book does reference PowerShell on Mac and Linux but I see Manning are releasing Learn PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Linux and macOS Edition which should be published in Spring 2020.

What I thought of the book

As someone that has ‘learnt’ PowerShell by hacking together scripts, Googling what I needed to do, and generally learning on the fly, I always wanted to go back and learn PowerShell ‘properly’. I felt this was the book that did that for me.

The format really made it easy to bite off small chunks of learning that incrementally built up to more advanced topics. Even Chapter 3 - Using the Help System which I thought would be one to fly through taught me that everything you need to figure out what you need create your scripts is in Help. The labs are great as you can do it all on practically any Windows PC. No complex lab required!

As the book comes from two PowerShell heavyweights you know the content is well written and informative.

I will say if you are think you are an advanced PowerShell user this book is not for you. I’d be inclined to look at Learn PowerShell Scripting in a Month of Lunches.

Wrap Up

This is a book I would really recommend to anyone wanting to get into PowerShell. Even with topics I thought I knew I still learnt new things. If you have not had any formal PowerShell training and want to learn this essential sysadmin skill, buy a copy of this book.

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