PowerShell updatable help updated!

Summary: A recent update to Windows PowerShell help removed parameter data types from the syntax block. This is now fixed.

Hello all you Windows PowerShell enthusiasts!

As you know, Downloadable Help for Windows PowerShell has been available since Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduced it with Windows PowerShell 3.0. It’s a great thing for us as Technical Writers because it enables us to update the Help after it has shipped. None of our old Help methods that shipped on the box allowed that. Because any text on the box had to be locked for translation months before the product shipped, and the engineering teams were still working on the product, it almost guaranteed that the Help was obsolete before it even shipped and we never could fix it.  With Downloadable Help we can fix it!  But it also means that we can introduce errors – and we recently did.

Some of you might have noticed that we recently updated some of the Downloadable Help files for several modules.  These files unfortunately were flawed by a bug in our build tools. This bug caused all the data types of parameters to be missing from the Syntax block at the top of the get-help output, although they were still listed in the parameter descriptions shown by Get-Help –Full and Get-Help –Detailed. The problem also affects all of the modules we’ve produced for the Preview release of Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows PowerShell 4.0.

If you used any of these files and wondered about the missing data types, I apologize for the confusion and resulting loss of productivity that their absence might have caused. We know that you use and value the get-help information and that errors there can make using the cmdlets successfully much more difficult. As soon as we discovered the problem we got our tools team working on a fix and it was released to production yesterday. As of this writing we have fixed and republished the 12 .cab files for modules from Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 and Windows PowerShell 3.0. The affected cabs were:

CimCmdlet, Hyper-V, IScsi, Microsoft.PowerShell.Core, Microsoft.PowerShell.Management, Microsoft.PowerShell.Utility, MMAgent, PSScheduledJob, PSWorkflow, PSWorkflowUtility, ServerManager, and WindowsServerBackup.

We’re still working to fix all of the pre-release .cab files for Windows 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 and Windows PowerShell 4.0,  and the .cab for the WssCmdlets module in Windows Server Essentials 2012.  We’ll be working on them right up until the 4th of July holiday here in the U.S. and hope to have them all fixed and republished by then.  All of the files will have higher version numbers than their predecessors, so a simple Update-Help -Force will address this on all of your computers once the new files are live on the Download Center.

Please be sure to let us know whenever you find something in our documentation that is broken or wrong.  We listen to all of the feedback we get. We can’t always implement every change that is suggested to us, but I promise that we’re listening and we take your suggestions seriously!  If you have feedback, suggestions, or just want to tell us that we’re doing a good job, please email us at write-help@microsoft.com.

Dave Bishop

Senior Technical Writer

Windows PowerShell Documentation Team

Comments (4)

  1. mredwilson says:

    @Angela Underwood — Awesome! I am glad you are following along with my new PowerShell Step by Step book 🙂 And you are right, updatable help is an awesome feature. Keep in touch, and let me know how you are doing with the book.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info. It is great to see some problems being resolved so efficiently. I (and others) however have the problem that UPDATE-HELP does not work when the user's computer connects to the internet via a web proxy requiring credentials. INVOKE-WEBREQUEST has no problems so why does UPDATE-HELP ?

    Cheers from Tasmania.

  3. Angela Underwood says:

    I was just following your new book Windows PowerShell 3.0 Step by Step and did that yesterday.  Neat.

  4. Desmond Lee [leedesmond.com] says:

    Is there an ETA for native, non-US Help in PowerShell v3 (or v4 for that matter) e.g. German? Currently, Update-Help -force -UICulture "en-us" is the workaround to get English language help on a German Windows installation.


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