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Windows PowerShell Pipelines From the Point of View of Unix User


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This newly introduced  "structured" (or database record style) pipelines interesting idea, but pretty much mixed blessing. They look to me more like database records with built-in (and passed with stream) naming of the fields. That makes each scriptlet something line a relational database operation/relational database generator with its ownb specific schema.

It's unclear to me if Microsoft screwed this or make the next step in shell design. Existing examples in blogs and books suggest that overcomplexity is overwhelming and benefits are not obvious. It might be that Microsoft steeped in the same tar pit in which IBM stepped with OS/360.

Here is example:

Get-Process | Where-Object { $_.WS -gt 500Kb } | Sort-Object -Descending ProcessNa					  
The Get-Process  cmdlet has help page what is more complex then it should be and without parameters generates set of records with named fields. I guess that the name printed are those that are passed with the pipeline, but that definitly have aliases (WS -> WorkingSet, ProcessNa -> Process Name, etc). In best IBM style those aliases are not in not in help page.  You need to know the list you need to dig the documentation to the WMI class Win32_Process . Cute, is not it ?
> Get-Process

Handles  NPM(K)    PM(K)      WS(K) VM(M)   CPU(s)     Id ProcessNa
-------  ------    -----      ----- -----   ------     -- ---------
    144       6     4828       8440    53     0.72   1352 AdobeARM
    148       3     1632       4728   133     0.53   1136 afcdpsrv
    118       8     1216       3740    32     0.08   3720 alg
     78       4     5156       7996    38     1.44   3504 ArsClip

That table represents  processes running in the particular server or desktop.  Those are records with named field (like hash in Perl) and each field has its name such as


The Where-Object  cmdlet works with just one field of the record (WS) comparing it with the threshold.  And the last stage of the pipeline works with the field ProcessNa  sorting records in descending order using it as a key.  Are you impressed? I am not.

This brief example illustrates a pretty problematic design decision by authors of PowerShell: PowerShell passes records   with named fields along the pipeline, not just text lines, in relational database fashion.  If the record has only one field it is somewhat similar  to text pipeline Unix uses I think, so we can think about this architecture as generalization of classic Unix pipes. The question is: does it worth the trouble?

Classic Unix shell solves this problem using awk or Perl and is not much more complex, while being a lot more flexible:

ps -F | awk '{ if($5 > 500) print }' | sort -r -k 64,70
UID        PID  PPID  C    SZ   RSS PSR STIME TTY             TIME CMD
me        8175  7967  0   965  1036   0 21:51 pts/0       00:00:00 ps -F
me        7967  7966  0  1173  2104   0 21:38 pts/0       00:00:00 -bash


Recommended Links

Piping and the Pipeline in Windows PowerShell

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