TSQL2sDay – Folks Who Have Made a Difference

tsql2sday

This months TSQL2sDay is an absolute brilliant one hosted by Ewald Cress

the opportunity to give a shout-out to people (well-known or otherwise) who have made a meaningful contribution to your life in the world of data.

Fabulous, fabulous idea Ewald, I heartily approve

Now this is going to be difficult. There are so many wonderful people in the #SQLFamily who are so gracious and generous and willing to share. I am also lucky enough to be part of the PowerShell community which is also equally filled with amazing people. I do not want to write a novel or a massive list of people, I don’t want to risk missing someone out (Ewald, I’m beginning to question whether ‘fabulous’ should become ‘tricky and challenging’ !!)

So after consideration I am only going to talk about 4 wonderful people and the effect they have had on my life, my career and my community involvement but know that I truly appreciate the input that all of the peoples have had and the amazing friendships that I have all over the world. There is no order to this list, these are 4 of the people in equal first with all the other people I haven’t mentioned. This post should really scroll sideways. Interestingly I noticed after writing this that they are in reverse chronological order in my life!

The Hair!

At PASS Summit this year many people came up to me and said “Hey, Beard ……..” The first person who called me that is an amazing inspiring bundle of talented energy called Chrissy LeMaire

Many moons ago, we exchanged messages over social media and email, chatted after a PowerShell Virtual Group presentation and then one day she asked me to join as an organiser for the Virtual Group.

When dbatools was in it’s infancy she asked me to help and since then has given me interesting challenges to overcome from introducing Pester and appveyor to the dbatools development process to creating continuous delivery to our private PowerShell gallery for our summit pre-con forcing me to learn and implement new and cool things. Our shared love of enabling people to do cool things with PowerShell is so much fun to do 🙂

She is so generous and giving of her time and knowledge and has an amazing capability to get things done, whether by herself or by encouraging and supporting others.

We have presented at many conferences together, both SQL and PowerShell and we have the best of times doing so. It is so refreshing to find someone that I am comfortable presenting with and who has the same passion and energy for inspiring people. (It’s also fun to occasionally throw her off her stride mid-presentation (Thank you Cathrine 🙂 )

I am proud to call her my buddy. You are so inspiring Chrissy.

Thank you Ma’am

Amazing Couple

A few months after becoming a DBA I was the only DBA at the company as the others all left for various reasons. I was drowning in work, had no idea what I should be doing. I knew I didn’t have the knowledge and during that time I began to be aware of the SQL community and all the fine resources that it provides.

I then found out about a local user group and emailed the leader Jonathan Allen (He surprised me by reminding of this during our pre-con in Singapore a couple of weeks ago!) Jonathan and his wife Annette run the SQL South West user group and are also members of the SQL Bits committee, Annette is also the regional mentor for the UK. They give an awful amount of time and effort to the SQL Community in the UK. It took a few months before I even had the time to attend a user group and in those early days they both answered my naive questions and passed on so much of their technical knowledge and methodology to me and I soaked it up.

Later on, they invited me to help them to organise SQL Saturday Exeter, encouraged me to speak, gave me fabulous feedback and pointers to improve, encouraged me to volunteer for SQL Bits and have been incredibly supportive. I love them both very much. Neither like having their photo taken so I can’t embarrass them too much.

Next time you see them give them a hug.

Thank you J and A

The First One

Andrew Pruski dbafromthecold and SQL Containers Man

At the time I am talking about he was not a member of the SQL Community although he possessed all of the qualities that describe such a person. Now he is an established blogger and speaker and attender of SQL events.

He is one of the DBA’s who left me on my own!! He is the first SQL DBA I ever worked with. The person who taught me all those important first bits of knowledge about being a SQL DBA. He imparted a great amount of knowledge in a few months with great patience to an eager newbie.

More than that, he showed me that to succeed in IT, you need to do more than just an everyday 9-5, that it requires more time than that. He instilled in me (without realising it) a work ethic and a thirst for doing things right and gaining knowledge that I still have today. He inspired me when I was faced with trying to understand the mountain of knowledge that is SQL Server that it was possible to learn enough. He taught me the importance of testing things, of understanding the impact of the change that is being made. He showed me how to respond in crises and yet was still willing to share and teach during those times.

He has had a greater impact on me than he will ever know and I have told him this privately many times. I will never forgive him for abandoning me all those years ago and yet that is a large part of what made me who I am today. I was forced to have to deal with looking after a large estate by myself and needed to learn to automate fast and he just about left me with the skills to be able to accomplish that.

Massive shout out to you fella. Thank you

All the Others

Seriously, there are so many other people who I wish I could thank.

Every single one of you who blogs or speaks or records webinars that I have watched – thank you.

All of the organisers who ensure that events happen – thank you

All of the volunteers who assist at those events – thank you.

That group of amazing European speakers at the first SQL Saturday Exeter I attended. The cool group, my wife still reminds me of how I came home from that event so inspired by them. How incredibly generous and welcoming they were and how they welcomed me into their group even though I didn’t feel worthy to share their table. They taught me about the lack of egos and humbleness that defines the SQL family. I am proud to call them my friends now. Thank You (You know who you are)

We have a great community, may its ethos continue for a long time.

Comparing Agent Jobs across Availability Group Replicas with PowerShell

On the plane home from PAS Summit I was sat next to someone who had also attended and when he saw on my laptop that I was part of the SQL Community we struck up a conversation. He asked me how he could compare SQL Agent Jobs across availability group replicas to ensure that they were the same.

He already knew that he could use Copy-DbaAgentJob from dbatools to copy the jobs between replicas and we discussed how to set up an Agent job to accomplish this. The best way to run an Agent Job with a PowerShell script is described here

Compare-Object

I told him about Compare-Object a function available in PowerShell for precisely this task. Take these two SQL instances and their respective Agent Jobs

agentjobcompare.png

So we can see that some jobs are the same and some are different. How can we quickly and easily spot the differences?

Those three lines of code will do it. The first two get the agent jobs from each instance and assign them to a variable and the last one compares them. This is the output
comparison.png
The arrows show that the first three jobs are only on the Bolton instance and the bottom three jobs are only on the default instance.

What If ?

 Another option I showed was to use the -WhatIf switch on Copy-DbaAgentJob. This parameter is available on all good PowerShell functions and will describe what the command would do if run WARNING – If you are using the old SQLPS module from prior to the SSMS 2016 release -WhatIf will actually run the commands so update your modules.
We can run

and get the following result

which shows us that there are two jobs on Rob-XPS which would be created on the Bolton instance

And if they have been modified?

Thats good he said, but what about if the jobs have been modified?
Well one thing you could do is to compare the jobs DateLastModified property by using the -Property parameter and the passthru switch
This is going to return the jobs which are the same but were modified at a different time
sortedjobcompare.png
so that you can examine when they were changed. Of course the problem with that is that the DateLastModified is a very precise time so it is pretty much always going to be different. We can fix that but now it is a little more complex.

Just the Date please

We need to gather the jobs in the same way but create an array of custom objects with a calculated property like this
and then we can compare on the Date field. The full code is

This will look like this

datecompare.png
Which is much better and hopefully more useful but it only works with 2 instances

I have more than 2 instances

So if we have more than 2 instances it gets a little more complicated as Compare-Object only supports two arrays. I threw together a quick function to compare each instance with the main instance. This is very rough and will work for now but I have also created a feature request issue on the dbatools repository so someone (maybe you ?? ) could go and help create those commands

which looks like this. It’s not perfect but it will do for now until the proper commands are created

compare agent jobs.png

Using Plaster To Create a New PowerShell Module

Chrissy, CK and I presented a pre-con at PASS Summit in Seattle last week

20171031_083328.jpg

Tracey Boggiano T | B came along to our pre-con and afterwards we were talking about creating PowerShell modules. In her blog post she explains how she creates modules by copying the code from another module (dbatools in this case!) and altering it to fit her needs. This is an absolutely perfect way to do things, in our pre-con we mentioned that there is no use in re-inventing the wheel, if someone else has already written the code then make use of it.

I suggested however that she used the PowerShell module Plaster to do this. We didnt have enough time to really talk about Plaster, so Tracy, this is for you (and I am looking forward to your blog about using it to 😉 )

What is Plaster?

Plaster is a template-based file and project generator written in PowerShell. Its purpose is to streamline the creation of PowerShell module projects, Pester tests, DSC configurations, and more. File generation is performed using crafted templates which allow the user to fill in details and choose from options to get their desired output.

How Do I Get Plaster?

The best way to get Plaster is also the best way to get any PowerShell module, from the PowerShell Gallery

You can just run

If you get a prompt about the repository not being trusted, don’t worry you can say yes.

Following PowerShell’s Security Guiding Principles, Microsoft doesn’t trust its own repository by default. The advice as always is never trust anything from the internet even if a bearded fellow from the UK recommends it!!

The PowerShell Gallery is a centralised repository where anyone can upload code to share and whilst all uploads are analyzed for viruses and malicious code by Microsoft, user discretion is always advised. If you do not want to be prompted every time that you install a module then you can run

if you and/or your organisation think that that is the correct way forward.

What Can We Do With Plaster?

Now that we have installed the module we can get to the nitty gritty. You can (and should) use Plaster to automate the creation of your module structure. If you are going to something more than once then automate it!

I created a repository for my Plaster Template You are welcome to take it and modify it for your own needs. I created a folder structure and some default files that I always want to have in my module folder

module framework.png

So in my template I have created all of the folders to organise the files in the way that I want to for my modules. I have also included the license file and some markdown documents for readme, contributing and installation. If we look in the tests folder

tests folder.png

There are some default test files included as well.

But Plaster is more than just a file and folder template repository, if we look in the installation markdown file,  it looks like this

We can paramatarise the content of our files. This will create a very simple markdown showing how to find and install the module from the PowerShell Gallery which saves us from having to type the same thing again and again. Lets see how to do that

The Manifest XML file

The magic happens in the manifest file You can create one with the New-PlasterManifest command in the template directory

This will create a PlasterManifest.xml file that looks like this
You can see that the parameters and content tags are empty. This is where we will define the parameters which will replace the tokens in our files and the details for how to create our module folder.

Plaster Parameters

At present my parameters tag looks like this
So we can set up various parameters with their names and data types defined and a prompt and if we want a default value.
We can then use
in our files to make use of the parameters.

Plaster Content

The other part of the manifest file to create is the content. This tells Plaster what to do when it runs.

Mine is split into 3 parts

We can provide messages to the user with the message tag. I create the folders using the filesource tag
This part creates all of the required files. You can see that the static files (those which do not require any sort of parameterisation for the contents use the same file source tag as the folders with the source defined. The files that have content which is parameterised use a tag of templateFile Source telling Plaster to look inside there for the tokens to be replaced.
The last part of the content creates the module manifest.
which I have filled in with the parameters for each of the values.

Creating a new module at the command line

Now you can easily create a module with all of the required folders and files that you want by creating a directory and running

which looks like this

Its that easy 🙂

Create a module without prompts

You can also create a module without needing to answer prompts. We can prefill them in our parameter splat
Which will look like this

Make Your Own

Hopefully this have given you enough information and shown you how easy it is to automate creating the framework for your new PowerShell modules and parameterising them. Let me know how you get on and share your examples

Further Reading

Kevin Marquettes blog post is an excellent and detailed post on using Plaster which you should also read for reference as well as David Christians post which has some great content on adding user choice to the parameters enabling one plaster template to fulfill multiple requirements.