Announcing SevenZipCmdLine.MSBuild

This was a quick and dirty thing born out of necessity, and need to make zip files of PoshRunner so I could make its chocolatey package.

I made MSBuild tasks for creating 7zip and zip files out of the $(TargetDir) of an MSBuild project. There is a nuget package for it. Simply include it in your project via nuget and build it from the command line with the following command line:

%windir%\\framework\v4.0.30319\msbuild __PROJECT_FOLDER__\__PROJECT_FILE__ /t:SevenZipBin,ZipBin

This will create and project.7z in __PROJECT_FOLDER__\bin\Target. To see how to override some of the defaults, look at this msbuild file in PoshRunner.

Source code is available via a github repo, and patches are welcome!

PoshRunner now on SourceForge and Chocolatey

I’ve been periodically hacking away at PoshRunner. I have lots of plans for it. Some of these are rewriting some of it in C++, allowing you to log output to MongoDB and total world domination! However, today’s news is not as grand.

The first piece of news is I made a PoshRunner sourceforge project to distribute the binaries. To download the latest version, click here. Secondly, there is now a PoshRunner chocolatey package, so you can install it via chocolatey. Finally, there is not a lot of documentation on PoshRunner.exe, so here is the output of poshrunner -help.

Usage: poshrunner.exe [OPTION] [...]

   --appdomainname=NAME                                     Name to give the AppDomain the PowerShell script executes in.
   --config=CONFIGFILE                                      The name of the app.config file for the script. Default is scriptName.config
   -f SCRIPT, --script=SCRIPT                               Name of the script to run.
   -h, --help                                               Show help and exit
   --log4netconfig=LOG4NETCONFIGFILE                        Override the default config file for log4net.
   --log4netconfigtype=LOG4NETCONFIGTYPE                    The type of Log4Net configuration.
   --shadowcopy                                             Enable Assembly ShadowCopying.
   -v, --version                                            Show version info and exit

Announcing poshrunner.exe so MyScript.ps1 can use MyScript.ps1.config instead of powershell.exe.config

I have a tendency to do odd things with technology so that things don’t just work. When I point out the obscure edge cases I find, most people tell me, “well don’t do that.” I usually ignore them and dream of tilting windmills. Well today a windmill has been tilted, and this is the epic tale.

I’m a developer that fell in love with PowerShell. As such I often call .NET API functions from powershell scripts. This usually just works. However, it kind of falls apart when you have to use settings in the app.config file. This means its basically impossible call functions from a DLL that use NHibernate, Entity Framework or WCF Service references. (However, WCF Services can be called direcctly from PowerShell quite easily)

The solution is to run the PowerShell script in a new PowerShell Runspace in a second AppDomain that uses its own app.config. However, things quickly fall apart because you need to write three classes that inherit from PSHostRawUserInterface, PSHostUserInterface and PSHost respectively or else Write-Host will throw an exception.

Now all this is a lot scarier than it sounds. However, it stops two important groups of people from ever using PowerShell to call DLLs that absolutely require you to manipulate your app.config:

  • People scared off by the word AppDomain
  • People that realize they have better things to do than everything I described above

Lucky for these two groups of people, I wasted my time so they didn’t have to! The project is currently called AppDomainPoshRunner, and I ILMerge it (via IL-Repack) into poshrunner.exe. Right now poshrunner takes one command line argument, the path to a script. If the script exists it will run it in an AppDomain whose config file is scriptname.config. Log4net configuration is read from a file called ADPR.log4net.config in the same directory as poshrunner.config.

The full background is to long and convoluted for this post. This was all born out of a problem with calling New-WebServiceProxy twice in the same PowerShell console. I use log4net to write the console messages so this has the potential to be quite extendable. Then Stan needed to run PowerShell scripts from msbuild and was complaining to me about it over twitter. He didn’t like the hacky solution I had then. Eventually I realized this was the way to simplify my previous solution.

So download the zip file. Try it out. Complain to me when you find bugs!

TLDR; Unlike powershell.exe -file foo.ps1, which uses the shared powershell.exe.config, poshrunner.exe foo.ps1 uses foo.ps1.config, for great justice. Download it now!

My ideas for The Atlantis Interactive Schema Engine

I first became aware of the open source Atlantis Interactive Schema Engine on Febuary 24th 2011 thanks to a retweet by Paul Randal. Its a .NET assembly which contains most of the “heavy lifting” code related to the schema operations in their various products. Matt Whitfield, the sole proprietor of Atlantis Interactive, is going to setup an account on codeplex or one of the other forges so people can post bugs, feature requests, and of course patches. Personally, I have several ideas for feature requests. However, I have no channel at the moment for these requests besides emailing Matt. While Matt has been very responsive, I wanted the conversation to be more public, I talked to Matt and he agreed it was a good idea to create put them on this blog post. Please use the comments to add your own bugs, feature requests, or patches, or comment on my feature requests.

Now, here are the feature requests.

Integration with ILSpy

ILSpy is a free and open source .NET decompiler. Development was accelerated by the fact that Redgate Reflector ceased to be free. It would be great if the library could decompile CLR assemblies to C# with this tool. It would be great to produce a diff of the decompiled source of two CLR assemblies.

Powershell related improvements

Powershell Cmdlets

I’ve written about using the schema engine with  powershell previously. Its a relatively pleasant experience, but it could be improved with powershell cmdlets. I’m pretty new to powershell, so I don’t have a clear direction on where I’d like these to go. However, I might consider taking the initiative on this one.

Shortened namespaces for the Enums

Basically, in powershell you have no using statements, and the Enums that are used as parameters are several namespaces deep. It might not make sense to change them. However, I am just throwing this out there.

More flexibility for creating SchemaReaders

I’m looking to be able to do a few things:

  • Pass an existing connection object
  • Create a pooled connection string. While that doesn’t make sense for desktop apps, it might make sense if I was using the library from a web app. Being able to sync databases from a web app would be really cool.

Get the existing connection string from  SchemaCollection

Its self explanatory.

Be able to script a schema to a Microsoft Sql Server Project

I’d like to be able to point the library at a database and have a function in SchemaCollection that will script everything to a visual studio database project. Initially it would be easiest to hard code this functionality. However, it would probably be best if it was template (t4?) based so that you could easily support other database versions.

Naturally a long term possibility would be to be able to do a schema sync between databases and sql server projects.

Support for Mono

I actually started a port of this. Its very easy to get it to compile (comment out like 3 lines), but you do lose Geospatial support. For this reason, it might make sense to have separate mono and .NET builds. In my limited time testing it I could not get my linux vm to connect to SQL server, so I don’t know if it would actually work. I want to pursue this path a bit myself, even if it just leads to me filing upstream bugs in mono.

Support for other databases

It seems like the object model is pretty well organized. That being said I realize this exercise would be far from mechanical. I don’t think cross database compares will ever be practical on a whole database level.  Below are the specific databases I’d like to see supported.

Microsoft Access

I don’t actually see much of a case for this other than “it can be done” and all windows machines have support for the JetSQL engine.


Support for SQLite in .net is very good via System.Data.SQLite.


Its been a while since I used NPgsql, but its pretty stable and robust. That being said, there will always be edge cases here since postgres is so customizable and extensible.


So thats a tall list of requests. When we have an issue tracker I will be transferring them all there. Until then, use the comments.