PSDay.UK Tickets are on sale

Following a lot of hard work by the organising folks Gael Colas, Ebru Cucen, Daniel Krebs and Johnathan Medd, we are pleased to announce that the PSDay.UK tickets are now on sale.

If you just want to go and get a ticket click here

PSDayUKCover

PSDay.UK

The first of the PSDay events, PSDay.UK will be held in London on Friday 22nd September 2017. Here is a calendar invite for you .ics so that you can book out the time. You will find further events happening around Europe and the world in the future.

We will be running two tracks at PSDay.UK this year

  • PowerShell Zero to Hero
  • DevOps with PowerShell

These sessions will provide you with a whole day of learning from renowned industry experts as well as the opportunity to network with your peers. We have chosen these tracks to enable people to sharpen and broaden their PowerShell skills and knowledge and see how it is being used in real-life situations.

Whilst we are not quite ready to release the agenda, we can promise you that we have some fantastic sessions and also some brilliant VIPs as well lined up. Keep an eye on the website for more details.

Location

PSDay.UK will be held at

Skills Matter | CodeNode, 10 South Place, London, EC2M 7EB, GB

Social Media

Follow the @PSDayUK twitter account and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PSDayUK/ and keep yourself informed on this fantastic new event.

Let us know that you are coming using the hashtag #PSDayUK

Tickets

We have released our Early Bird tickets right now so don’t delay, head over to the site and book your place now before they all go.

Looking forward to seeing you in September, come up and say hi.

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Using PowerShell to check if your password has been in a breach

We know that we need to keep our credentials secure. We know that we should not re-use our passwords across different services. Hopefully, by now, most readers of this blog are aware of Troy Hunts excellent free service https://haveibeenpwned.com/ which will notify you if your email has been found in a breach. If not, go and sign up now.

Recently Troy announced on his blog

This blog post introduces a new service I call “Pwned Passwords”, gives you guidance on how to use it and ultimately, provides you with 306 million passwords you can download for free and use to protect your own systems.

So I thought I would write a quick PowerShell script to make use of it and place it on the PowerShell Gallery

You can install it using

Install-Script -Name Get-PwnedPassword

You will be asked if you want to add ‘C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Scripts’ to your PATH environment variable if this is the first script you have installed

Then load it into your session with a period and a space.

. Get-PwnedPassword.ps1

and check some old passwords. Take notice of the screen shot below in which Troy states that you should not send your password currently in use to any third party sites including this one.

Get-PwnedPassword

There was a game on Twitter which involved finding ‘interesting’ passwords that people have used! Search for it, it’s nsfw by the way!

passwords.png

UPDATE

After posting this Jos made a comment

and Mathias added

Which is a good point. You don’t want you co-workers or friends seeing your Passwords over the shoulder. So I have updated the script to prompt for a Password and convert it to secure string and added a hash parameter as the API also allows you to pass the SHA1 hash of a password.

passwords2.png

Which is a bit better I think. Thank you guys.

UPDATE 2 – This actually broke the script meaning that every password came back as pwned as I was not decoding the securestring correctly. I have fixed this with version 1.2 which you can get if you have already installed the script by running

Update-Script Get-PwnedPassword

Thanks to Henkie and Russell for letting me know

There is also a good use case for us technical folk to assist our none-technical friends with their password usage. You can visit this page

https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords

and get them to put their old password in the box (look at the screenshot for advice on current passwords) and see if their password has been used in a breach or not and use this as a means to have a discussion about password managers

pwnedpasswords.png

 

I Hate Interviews – TSQL2sDay

tsql2sday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Kendra Little and is on the topic of interviews 

I hate interviews as an interviewee. I have had many memorable experiences with them. Even writing this blog post has been challenging as I relive some of them. I haven’t shared a lot of the worst ones!

When I was a lad

My first interview was for a waiter/washer up at a local country pub aged 15 or so. I stumbled and stammered and stuttered my way through and I think it was only because they needed someone that evening that I got the job.

When I was 17 I wanted a car and whilst doing my A-Levels I got a job at a local private school to achieve this. It was about a 10 minute cycle from my college to the school and I was so nervous that about half-way I was incapable of riding my bike and had to walk. I then was faced with two people interviewing me which I was not expecting or prepared for. I remember nothing of the interview other than leaving it soaking in sweat.

Nerves

As a young man I interviewed for numerous jobs and things got progressively worse for me. I would get so incredibly nervous. I could not sleep or eat before an interview. This meant I often was feeling very nauseous and tired during an interview. I would arrive incredibly early and have to waste time wandering around, giving me more time to think about how nervous I was and, of course, making it worse. Obviously I wouldn’t give a good impression and didn’t get the jobs which meant more interviews and more nerves.

I tried many things, I sought advice and information from many sources and approached the situation in a number of different ways without much change to my internal responses.

Preparation, Practice, Knowledge and Distraction

To this day I hate interviews even after 20 years of having to do them. I can still get so overcome by nerves that I forget even the simplest and most obvious things such as what the N in DNS stands for or what the question is that I should be answering.

To minimise this, I try my best to prepare as well as I possibly can. I learn and revise the things I think I will need to show that I know by reading the job descriptions and adverts carefully.

I also split the whole process into separate boxes. Revising and researching a company and a job was one part. Getting ready and travelling and arriving was another and the actual interview was then just the last part consisting of talking to some people. This definitely reduced the overall stress and improved my performance in interviews.

A previous shop provided interviewer training and needed volunteers to be interviewed for those courses. I volunteered as often as I was able to and treated them as realistically as was feasible. This helped me a lot and also enabled me (sometimes) to view an interview as just a chat. If you suffer with nerves and this is available I would recommend doing so. If not, ask someone who interviews for some practice interviews and treat them as realistically as you feel is necessary.

A wise person told me to remember that interviewers are people too and also that good interviewers will recognise nerves and assist the interviewee. After all, they are trying to find the right person to fulfil their needs and want to know if you meet their requirements for that position.

Another wise person told me, during an interview, that it was ok to ask for clarification about a question. A decade or more of interviews before I knew that. It enables me to pull back from a spiral of nerves making me gabble and to be able to return to the question required. When I find that I am rambling in my answer or that the answer has disappeared from my mind I ask the interviewer for clarification and get some much needed breathing space.

To reduce the impact of nervousness before the interview I learnt to distract myself in the couple of hours prior to an interview. I have been known to go and see a film if a cinema is close to the interview or do the weekly shopping. Anything that can occupy my mind without risking me being late. This may be of no use to many people but it works for me.

The other side of the table

As an interviewer, I hope that I recognise when people are nervous and am able to assist them and also coax out the information that I need to be able to make the best decision about the candidate for the position.

Interviewing is tiring.

When I worked in secure units we would sometimes spend 2 continuous days interviewing. It is hard work. You need to look after yourself in these situations. It is important to drink plenty of water, to ensure that you eat and at least get up and stretch in between interviews. The very last person you interview might be the perfect candidate don’t miss that because you have switched off.

You are being interviewed too

The person that you are interviewing is also interviewing you. They are considering if they want to come and work for your company with the people they meet. That might only be the people in the interview so it is important I think to ensure that you make a good impression as well. During a day of interviewing many candidates try to reset before each person.

Being courteous, attentive and professional is important during the interview even if the interviewers recognise that the person is not suitable for that role within 2 minutes. They may be ideal for another position or you may come across them later in your career. Leave a good impression.

Preparation

A shop I worked at employed a new DBA who had impressed the manager in interview with their knowledge as they had passed a lot of exams. The manager was very pleased and looking forward to the new arrival. This changed quite quickly when it became obvious that the new DBA was missing some basic knowledge about installing SQL Server and creating new databases which was a significant part of their role. A lot of time was wasted by the other DBAs in the team re-doing and re-checking the work that this person had done and team dynamics went downhill very quickly (although I did learn a lot about Policy Based Management from this experience!)

When I was working in secure units focusing on people with Autism we knew that communication skills both verbal and none-verbal were vital to all members of our team. We had an excellent set of questions and scenarios early in the interview to establish peoples capabilities in these areas and this allowed us to close off interviews early when we could see that the candidate did not meet our requirements as well as ensuring we employed people with the right skills for a very challenging workplace.

Before the interviews for a replacement DBA the manager asked how to avoid a repeat of that situation. I described the situation above and as a team we identified the basic skills, knowledge and approaches that we wanted in our future team members and designed a set of questions and scenarios so that candidates could demonstrate them. This was excellent for ensuring the entire team felt that they had some input into the recruiting process and also added confidence in the new team member. I think it was an excellent piece of team management as well.

The biggest take away from this post, I hope, is preparation. For both sides of the table preparation is a vital part of any interview process. Also if you see me all dressed up and in the queue for a film I am probably very nervous and won’t want to chat!!

Make sure that you go and visit the round-up post that Kendra posts on her blog to read further posts on the interviewing process from others in the SQL Community. You can also find all the archives at http://tsqltuesday.com/

 

 

 

Any resemblance to any living people in this post apart from myself is complete co-incidence

 

 

 

 

Presentation Nerves

My previous post on interviews and a number of conversations this year inspired me to write this post. I am lucky enough to have been selected to speak at numerous events over the past few years and I am really lucky because I thoroughly enjoy doing them. The feedback I receive from those sessions has been wonderful and it seems that in general most people really enjoy them.

This leads to some misconceptions though. Recently people have said to me “Oh I am not like you, I get far to nervous to do a session” and also “I am so glad that you get just as nervous as me before presenting I thought it was just me” even though I have blogged about this before. I think it is important for newer speakers as well as more established ones to know that more presenters than you realise get very nervous before they speak.

Many don’t publicise this (which is fine) but I will. I get nervous before I speak. I know that it doesn’t show when I start my presentation but it is there. My stomach does back flips, my hands shake, I forget to bring things to the room. I worry that I will make a catastrophic mistake or that I’ll open my mouth and nothing will come out.

It’s ok. It doesn’t last very long, it’s gone at the moment I start speaking. Other speakers need a few moments into their session before they stop really feeling those nerves but it goes.

Whenever I am involved in a conversation about nerves and presentations on twitter I respond in the same way

I love this quote by Joan Jett (young people link) To me it means that you should be nervous before speaking because that energy will ensure that you give a good presentation. If you get up to do a presentation and you are blasé or complacent about it this will be obvious to your audience and not in a good way.

So what to do?

Practice

You can’t just approach a presentation knowing that you will be nervous and expect it to be ok. You need to have a background of confidence that your presentation will turn out ok.

You need to practice.

You need to practice your presentation.

You need to practice your presentation out loud.

You need to practice your presentation out loud more than once.

You have to get used to hearing your own voice when presenting. It can be off-putting hearing yourself blathering on and you don’t want that to surprise you or interrupt your flow. This will also help with projecting away from your screen and into the room if you practice correctly. Imagine all the people in the room and try to speak in their direction with your head up and not pointing down at the screen.

You also need to practice your timings, so that you know that your session will fit in the allocated time. Make notes of your timings at certain points in your presentation so that when you are presenting your session you can be aware of whether you are still on your expected time. Some people will speak faster in their actual session than the practice and some slower. As you practice and learn you will understand your own rhythm and cadence and be able to alter it if required. This will help you to build that confidence that your presentation will be ok.

More Practice

You need to practice.

You need to practice your demos.

You need to practice your demos more than once.

Being able to reset your demos and run them through will teach you more skills. Using Pester to make sure your environment is in place correctly will help.

Run your demos with your machine set up as it will be for the presentation. If you need to have PowerPoint, SSMS, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code and three SQL instances running then practice with them all running. You should do this so that your timings when running your demos are the same as when you actual present your session. This is even more important if you are doing a webinar as that software will require some of your machines resources which may slow your demo down.

Knowing that your demos are consistently repeatable and how long they will take will also help to give you the confidence that your presentation will be ok.

Deal with them

If we accept that you will have nerves and that’s not a bad thing you have to be able to deal with them, to use them to make your presentation rock.

This is a distinctly personal thing and I have no idea what will work for you. You will have to try some things and see if they work or not. Recently I found a new way for myself

Normally I like to be in the room I will be presenting in before I do my session as this gives me something that I can listen to, I can see and feel the layout of the room and also usually prepare my laptop with the correct programmes and run Pester to make sure all is as it should be for my demos. In Portugal I was chatting with someone and missed the start of the session and because of the room layout I did not want to disturb the presenter before me. Slava Oks was giving a presentation which I started to watch and it was so mind-melting I completely forgot that I was presenting in the next time slot! Surprisingly, I had almost no time to be nervous and for this time that was a good thing. The fact that I had already opened my presentation and run my Pester tests also helped.

Some speakers like to be amongst the hustle and bustle of a common area. Some like the peace and quiet of a speaker room or work area. Some put their headphones on. Some go outside. Some pace up and down. Some sit quietly. Many sit in a session in the room. Find the one that works for you.

A few deep breaths

Then just before you are giving your presentation take a few deep breathes, reassure yourself that it’s all good and go and be amazing.

Deep breaths will also be useful if you start to feel nervousness overtaking you during your session. Stop, take a deep breath and carry on.

Incidentally, during a presentation in Exeter at my first SQL Saturday I felt decidedly light-headed and as if I was going to pass out. I had literally forgotten to breathe!

What about…… ?

Don’t forget to leave time for questions at the end. Don’t practice to fill all of the allotted time with your presentation. You will need some time for the audience to ask you questions about your presentations.

Having people ask you questions is a good thing. It means that people are engaged in your presentation and interested in what you have shared. Well done, you have achieved what you set out to do and this is some validation

Repeat the question

Repeating the question that you are asked is recommended best practice for presentations but it has another advantage to you. It allows you a little thinking time to organise your thoughts and calm your nerves if needed.

I don’t know

It’s ok to answer a question with I don’t know. Follow up by asking if anyone in the audience can add some value or say I will research that and find out for you come and give me your contact details afterwards.

Feedback

Some events will provide you with feedback from your attendees. You can also ask your friends or other friendly community members for feedback on your session. Use this to improve. Don’t take all the feedback to heart. Look for trends in the data. Don’t let the poor feedback get you down and don’t let the good feedback go to your head (Remember the complacent quote at the top of this post!)

On a side note, whilst providing a score for feedback is useful, what is more useful is some reasoning behind the score. Remember also that the speaker is a human being with feelings. Be kind whilst being constructive.

Your knowledge

Don’t let worry about nerves prevent us from hearing the great knowledge and experience that you have to share. You wont be alone in feeling nervous and you can help yourself to overcome those nerves and get as much out of speaking as I do.

You will find members of the SQL community wiling to help you if you visit the SQL Community Slack you can ask questions in #presentingorspeaking

 

Announcing PSDay.UK – Whats a PSDay?

On Thursday evening I attended the joint London WinOps and PowerShell User Group. It was an excellent evening with two great sessions by Jaap Brasser and Filip Verloy.

PSDay.UK

There was also an exciting announcement about PSDay.UK  https://psday.uk

PSDay.UK is a one day PowerShell event providing the opportunity for you to spend a whole day learning PowerShell from renowned experts from the UK and international speaking community. It will be held at

Skills Matter | CodeNode, 10 South Place, London, EC2M 7EB, GB

on

Friday 22nd September 2017  .ics

We will be running two tracks

  • PowerShell Zero to Hero
  • DevOps with PowerShell

Register your interest

Please go and visit the website and have a look and register your interest to get further notifications about the event.

Follow the @PSDayUK twitter account and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PSDayUK/ and keep yourself informed on this fantastic new event.

Want to Speak at PSDay.UK ?

We already have some fantastic speakers lined up but we would like to invite people to send us submissions for more sessions. If you have a PowerShell talk that will fit into one of the tracks and experience of delivering sessions at events please send us submissions via the website.
If you have questions about speaking feel free to contact me via twitter at @sqldbawithbeard

What is a PSDay ?

The International PowerShell community has three main global events which run over a number of days with top notch international speakers and Microsoft PowerShell team members, delivering in-depth information about the latest PowerShell trends and technologies, and connecting national communities with another.

There are a number of other PowerShell events that have been organised by wonderful volunteers in numerous countries and we feel there is an opportunity to create national events which complement the global events and help PowerShell passionates and professionals to get in touch and learn from another with a similar branding of PSDay.

We foresee PSDays to be smaller one day national events promoting speakers from the host country supported by other international speakers with the aim of increasing the exposure of national PowerShell user groups as well as providing excellent PowerShell training.

There will be a board of PowerShell community folk set up who will approve requests to use the PSDay name and shield logo providing the event is professionally organized and offer help with technical questions, viral marketing, and experience. We hope that this will enable people to set up their own PSDay in their own country and increase the exposure of the PowerShell community as well as PowerShell knowledge whilst sharing resources, knowledge, experience and skills and ensuring a good standard of PowerShell community national events.

Further details of this will be forthcoming and we welcome offers of assistance from people with relevant experience

 

 

Writing Dynamic and Random Tests Cases for Pester

I have written a module SQLDiagAPI for consuming the SQL Server Diagnostics API with PowerShell. I blogged about how I used Pester to develop one of the functions . Whilst writing Get-SQLDiagFix I wrote some Pester Tests to make sure that the output from the code was as expected.

Pester

For those that don’t know. Pester is a PowerShell module for Test Driven Development

Pester provides a framework for running unit tests to execute and validate PowerShell commands from within PowerShell. Pester consists of a simple set of functions that expose a testing domain-specific language (DSL) for isolating, running, evaluating and reporting the results of PowerShell commands

If you have PowerShell version 5 then you will have Pester already installed although you should update it to the latest version. If not you can get Pester from the PowerShell Gallery follow the instructions on that page to install it. This is a good post to start learning about Pester

The Command Get-SQLDiagFix

Get-SQLDiagFix  returns the Product Name, Feature Name/Area, KB Number, Title and URL for the Fixes in the Cumulative Updates returned from the SQL Server Diagnostics Recommendations API. One Fix looks like this

07 - Get-SQLDiagFix result.png

This is how I wrote the Pester tests for that command

Mocking the results

In my describe block for each function I mock Get-SQLDiagRecommendations. This is the command that each of the current available commands in the module use to get the recommendations from the SQL Server Diagnostic Recommendations API. I did this by creating a json file from the API and saving it in a json folder inside the tests folder

01 - JSON folder.png

I can then mock Get-SQLDiagRecommendations inside a BeforeAll code block using

Describe "Get-SQLDiagFix" -Tags Build , Unit, Fix {
BeforeAll {
    $Recommendations = (Get-Content $PSScriptRoot\json\recommendations.JSON) -join "`n" | ConvertFrom-Json
    Mock Get-SQLDiagRecommendations {$Recommendations}
}
This means that every time the code in the test calls Get-SQLDiagRecommendations it will not use the internet to connect to the API and return an object. Instead it will return the $Recommendations object which is loaded from a file on the file system. I am not, therefore, depending on any external factors and I have a known set of data for my test results.
I also have a set of mocks in my Output Context code block
Context "Output" {
BeforeAll {
    $Fixes = (Get-Content $PSScriptRoot\json\fix.JSON) -join "`n" | ConvertFrom-Json
    $Products = Get-SQLDiagProduct
    $Features = Get-SQLDiagFeature
}

The fixes.json is a file which was created from the recommendations.json and only contains the properties returned by GetSQLDiagFix which is what we are testing here. I can set variables for Products and Features using the commands from the module as these will call Get-SQLDiagRecommendations which we have already mocked.

Test All of the Fixes

I can now test that the code I have written for Get-SQLDiagFix returns the correct data without any parameters using this test with Compare-Object.

It "returns all of the fixes with no parameter" {
    Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix) $Fixes | Should BeNullOrEmpty
}
If there is no difference between the object returned from Get-SQLDiagFix and the $fixes object which uses the json file then the code is working as expected and the test will pass.

Test Cases

I learned about test cases from Mike Robbins blog post. Test cases enable you to provide a hash table of options and loop through the same test for each of them. Here is an example

There are the following products in the Recommendation API

  • SQL Server 2012 SP3
  • SQL Server 2016 SP1
  • SQL Server 2016 RTM
  • SQL Server 2014 SP1
  • SQL Server 2014 SP2
and I want to run a test for each product to check that the fixes returned from Get-SQLDiagFix for that product match the $fixes object filtered by Product for those products. Here is the code
$TestCases = @{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2012 SP3'},
@{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2016 SP1'},
@{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2016 RTM'},
@{ ProductName ='SQL Server 2014 SP1'},
@{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2014 SP2'}
It "Returns the correct results with a single product parameter <ProductName>" -TestCases $TestCases {
    param($productname)
    $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Product -in $ProductName}
    Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $productname) $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
}
You can click on the image below to see a larger, more readable version.
02 Test Cases.png

The $TestCases variable holds an array of hashtables, one for each product with a Name that matches the parameter that I use in the test and a value of the product name.

I wrote one test, one It code block.  I refer to the product in the title inside <> using the same name as the name in the hashtable. The test (It) needs a parameter of -TestCases with a value (in this example) of the $TestCases variable we have just defined. It also needs a param block with a parameter that matches the Name value from the hashtables.

The expected test results are placed in a $results variable by filtering the $Fixes variable (defined in the BeforeAll code block above) by the parameter $Productname

The test will then run for each of the test cases in the $TestCases variable comparing the results of Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $Productname with the expected results from the $fixes variable

Here are the test results

03 - product test results.png

Multiple Products in Test Cases

I also want to test that Get-SQLDiagFix will work for multiple Products. I need to create TestCases for those too. I do that in exactly the same way

$TestCases = @{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1'},
@{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM'},
@{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM', 'SQL Server 2014 SP1'},
@{ ProductName = 'SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM', 'SQL Server 2014 SP1', 'SQL Server 2014 SP2'}
    It "Returns the correct results with multiple product parameter <ProductName>" -TestCases $TestCases {
        param($productname)
        $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Product -in $ProductName}
        Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $productname) $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
}
Which looks like this when the tests run
04 - mulitple product test results.png

Single Feature Dynamic Test Cases

Get-SQLDiagFix can also filter the fixes by feature area. The features are returned from Get-SQLDiagFeature. This means that I can create a test for each of the features by using the $features variable which was defined in the BeforeAll block as

$Features = Get-SQLDiagFeature

Then I can dynamically create test cases using

$TestCases = @()
$Features | Foreach-Object {$TestCases += @{Feature = $_}}
It "Returns the correct results with a single feature <Feature>" -TestCases $TestCases {
    param($Feature)
    $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Feature -in $Feature}
    Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix -Feature $Feature) $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
}

and the results look like

05 - single feature test results.png

Random Dynamic Multiple Feature Test Cases

I also need to test that Get-SQLDiagFix returns the correct results for multiple features and whilst I could create those by hand like the products example above why not let PowerShell do that for me?

I created 10 test cases. Each one has a random number of features between 2 and the number of features.  I can then write one test to make use of those test cases. This is how I do that

## Generate 10 TestCases of a random number of Features
$TestCases = @()
$x = 10
While ($x -gt 0) {
    ## We are testing multiples so we need at least 2
    $Number = Get-Random -Maximum $Features.Count -Minimum 2
    $Test = @()
    While ($Number -gt 0) {
        $Test += Get-Random $Features
        $Number --
    }
## Need unique values
$Test = $test | Select-Object -Unique
$TestCases += @{Feature = $Test}
$X --
}
It "Returns the correct results with multiple features <Feature>" -TestCases $TestCases {
 param($Feature)
 $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Feature -in $Feature}
 Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix -Feature $Feature) $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
 }

Now there are 10 tests each with a random number of features and the results look like this. Each time the test is run it will use a different set of features for each of the 10 tests but I will know that I am testing that the code will return the correct results for multiple features

06 - multiple features.png

Two Sets of Test Cases?

It is also possible for Get-SQLDiagFix to have one or more products and one or more features passed as parameters, which obviously also need to be tested to ensure the code is returning the correct results. As Pester is just PowerShell we can use normal PowerShell code. This means that I can test for a single product and a single feature using a foreach loop and Test Cases like this

foreach ($Product in $Products) {
    $TestCases = @()
    $Features = Get-SQLDiagFeature -Product $Product
    $Features | Foreach-Object {$TestCases += @{Feature = $_}}
    It "Returns the correct results for a single product parameter $Product with a single feature <Feature>" -TestCases $TestCases {
        param($Feature)
        $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Product -eq $product -and $_.Feature -in $Feature}
        Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $Product -Feature $Feature) $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
    }
}

To test for a single product and multiple features I use this code

 foreach ($Product in $Products) {
    ## Generate 10 TestCases of a random number of Features
    $TestCases = @()
    $x = 10
    While ($x -gt 0) {
        ## We are testing multiples so we need at least 2
        $Number = Get-Random -Maximum $Features.Count -Minimum 2
        $Test = @()
        While ($Number -gt 0) {
            $Test += Get-Random $Features
            $Number --
        }
        ## Need unique values
        $Test = $test | Select-Object -Unique
        $TestCases += @{Feature = $Test}
        $X --
    }
    It "Returns the correct results for a single product parameter $Product with a multiple features <Feature>" -TestCases $TestCases {
        param($Feature)
        $Test = (Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $Product -Feature $Feature)
        ## If there are no results Compare-Object bombs out even though it is correct
        ## This is a risky fix for that
        if ($Test) {
        $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Product -eq $product -and $_.Feature -in $Feature}
        Compare-Object $test $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
        }
    }
 } 

Because it is dynamically creating the values for the two parameters, I have to check that there are some results to test on line 23 as Compare-Object will throw an error if the object to be compared is empty. I need to do this because it is possible for the test to pick products and features in a combination that there are no fixes in the results.

The reason I have commented it as a risky fix is because if someone changes the code and Get-SQLDiagFix does not return any results then the test would not run and therefore there would be no information from this test that the code had a bug. However, in this suite of tests there are many tests that would fail in that scenario but be careful in your own usage.

I test for multiple products with a single feature and multiple products with multiple features like this

 $Products = @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1'),
 @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM'),
 @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM', 'SQL Server 2014 SP1'),
 @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM', 'SQL Server 2014 SP1', 'SQL Server 2014 SP2')
 foreach ($Product in $Products) {
     $TestCases = @()
     $Features = Get-SQLDiagFeature -Product $Product
     $Features | Foreach-Object {$TestCases += @{Feature = $_}}
     It "Returns the correct results for multiple products parameter $Product with a single feature <Feature>" -TestCases $TestCases {
         param($Feature)
         $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Product -in $product -and $_.Feature -in $Feature}
         Compare-Object (Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $Product -Feature $Feature) $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
     }
}
 $Products = @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1'),
 @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM'),
 @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM', 'SQL Server 2014 SP1'),
 @('SQL Server 2012 SP3', 'SQL Server 2016 SP1', 'SQL Server 2016 RTM', 'SQL Server 2014 SP1', 'SQL Server 2014 SP2')
 foreach ($Product in $Products) {
     ## Generate 10 TestCases of a random number of Features
     $TestCases = @()
     $x = 10
     While ($x -gt 0) {
         ## We are testing multiples so we need at least 2
         $Number = Get-Random -Maximum $Features.Count -Minimum 2
         $Test = @()
         While ($Number -gt 0) {
             $Test += Get-Random $Features
             $Number --
         }
     ## Need unique values
     $Test = $test | Select-Object -Unique
     $TestCases += @{Feature = $Test}
     $X --
 }
 It "Returns the correct results for multiple products parameter $Product with a multiple feature <Feature>" -TestCases $TestCases {
     param($Feature)
     $Test = (Get-SQLDiagFix -Product $Product -Feature $Feature)
     ## Annoyingly if there are no results Compare-Object bombs out even though it is correct
     ## This is a risky fix for that
     if ($Test) {
         $results = $fixes.Where{$_.Product -in $product -and $_.Feature -in $Feature}
         Compare-Object $test $results | Should BeNullOrEmpty
        }
    }
 } 

You can see all of the unit tests for the SQLDiagAPI module in my GitHub repository

The module is available on the PowerShell Gallery which means that you can install it using

Install-Module SQLDiagAPI

Using Get-SQLDiagFix to get information from the SQL Server Diagnostic API with PowerShell

The SQL Server Diagnostics Preview was announced just over a week ago It includes an add-on for SQL Server Management Studio to enable you to analyse SQL Server memory dumps and view information on the latest SQL Server cumulative updates for supported versions of SQL Server. Arun Sirpal has written a good blog post showing how to install it and use it in SSMS to analyse dumps.

There is also a developer API available so I thought I would write some PowerShell to consume it as there are no PowerShell code examples available in the documentation!

In a previous post I have explained how I created the module and a GitHub repository and used Pester to help me to develop the first command Get-SQLDIagRecommendations. At present the module has 5 commands, all for accessing the Recommendations API.

This post is about the command Get-SQLDiagFix which returns the Product Name, Feature Name/Area, KB Number, Title and URL for the Fixes in the Cumulative Updates returned from the SQL Server Diagnostics Recommendations API.

PowerShell Gallery

The module is available on the PowerShell Gallery which means that you can install it using

Install-Module SQLDiagAPI

as long as you have the latest version of the PowerShellGet module. This is already installed in Windows 10 and with WMF 5 but you can install it on the following systems

  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 SP1
  • Windows Server 2016 TP5
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

following the instructions here.

If you are not running your PowerShell using a local administrator account you will need to run

Install-Module SQLDiagAPI -Scope CurrentUser

to install the module.

If you can’t use the PowerShell Gallery you can install it using the instructions on the repository

API Key

To use the API you need an API Key. An API Key is a secret token that identifies the application to the API and is used to control access. You can follow the instructions here to get one for the SQL Server Diagnostics API.

01 - APIKey

You will need to store the key to use it. I recommend saving the API Key using the Export-CliXML command as described by Jaap Brasser here .

Get-Credential | Export-CliXml -Path "${env:\userprofile}\SQLDiag.Cred"

You need to enter a username even though it is not used and then enter the API Key as the password. It is saved in the root of the user profile folder as hopefully, user accounts will have access there in most shops.

This will save you from having to enter the APIKey every time you run the commands as the code is looking for it to be saved in that file.

The Commands

Once you have installed the module and the APIKey it will be available whenever you start PowerShell. The first time you install you  may need to run

Import-Module SQLDiagAPI

to load it into your session. Once it is loaded you can view the available commands using

Get-Command -Module SQLDiagAPI

01 - SQLDiagAPI Commands.png

You can find out more about the commands on the GitHub Repository  and the Help files are in the documentation.

Get-Help

Always, always when starting with a new module or function in PowerShell you should start with Get-Help. I like to use the -ShowWindow parameter to open the help in a separate window as it has all of the help and a handy search box.

Get-Help Get-SQLDiagFix

02 - Get-Help Get-SQLDiagFix.png

Good help should always include plenty of examples to show people how to use the command. There are 12 examples in the help for Get-SQLDiagFix. You can view just the examples using

Get-Help Get-SQLDiagFix -examples

Get All Of The Fixes

The easiest thing to do is to get all of the available fixes from the API. This is done using

Get-SQLDiagFix

which will return all 123 Fixes currently referenced in the API.

03 get-sqldiagfix.png

That is just a lot of information on the screen. If we want to search through that with PowerShell we can use Out-GridView

Get-SQLDiagFix | Select Product, Feature, KB, Title | Out-GridView

05 Get-SQLDiagFix OutGridView Search.gif

Or maybe if you want to put them in a database you could use dbatools

$Fixes = Get-SQLDiagFix | Out-DbaDataTable
Write-DbaDataTable -SqlServer $Server -Database $DB -InputObject $Fixes -Table Fixes -AutoCreateTable

Get Fixes for a Product

If you only want to see the fixes for a particular product you can use the product parameter. To see all of the products available in the API you can run

Get-SQLDiagProduct

06 Get-SQLDiagProduct.png

You can either specify the product

Get-SQLDiagFix -Product 'SQL Server 2016 SP1' | Format-Table

07 Get-SQLDiagFix Product.png

or you can pipe the results of Get-SQLDiagProduct to Get-SQLDiagFix which enables you to search. For example, to search for all fixes for SQL Server 2014 you can do

Get-SQLDiagProduct 2014 | Get-SQLDiagFix | Format-Table -AutoSize

08 - Get-SQLDiagFix Product Search.png

Which will show the fixes available in the API for SQL Server 2014 SP1 and SQL Server 2014 SP2

Get The Fixes for A Feature

The fixes in the API are also categorised by feature area. You can see all of the feature areas using Get-SQLDiagFeature

Get-SQLDiagFeature

09 get-sqldiagfeature.png

You can see the fixes in a particular feature area using the Feature parameter with

Get-SQLDiagFix -Feature Spatial | Format-Table -AutoSize

10 - Get-SQLDiagFix by feature.png

or you can search for a feature with a name like query and show the fixes using

Get-SQLDiagFix -Feature (Get-SQLDiagFeature query) | Format-Table -AutoSize

11 - Get-SQLDiagFix by feature query.png

Get Fixes for a Product and a Feature

You can combine the two approaches above to search for fixes by product and feature area. If you want to see the fixes for SQL Server 2016  to do with backups you can use

Get-SQLDiagProduct 2016 | Get-SQLDiagFix -Feature (Get-SQLDiagFeature backup) | Format-Table -AutoSize

12 - Get-SQLDiagFix by feature adn product.png

No-one wants to see the words “…restore fails when….”! This is probably a good time to fix that.

Open the KB Article Web-Page

As well as getting the title and KB number of the fix, you can open the web-page. This code will open the fixes for all SP1 products in the feature area like al in Out-GridView and enable you to choose one (or more) and open them in your default browser

Get-SQLDiagProduct SP1 | Get-SQLDiagFix -Feature (Get-SQLDiagFeature -Feature al) `
| Out-GridView -PassThru | ForEach-Object {Start-Process $_.URL}
13 - Open a webpage.gif

 

There is a YouTube video as well showing how to use the command

 

You can find the GitHub repository at  https://github.com/SQLDBAWithABeard/SQLDiagAPI