Conceptualize Desired State Configuration: Part 2

Summary: Microsoft MVP, Will Anderson, talks about familiarizing yourself with DSC formatting and resources.

Good morning, Ed Wilson is here. Today we have Part 2 of Will Anderson’s awesome DSC series.

  Note   This is a seven-part series that includes the following posts:

The code used in this series can be downloaded from the Script Center Repository:
Conceptualize Desired State Configuration - Reference Script

Take it away Will…

I'm going to jump ahead here and say that it become vastly easier to find and install resources by using WMF 5.0, which went RTM in December 2015. So, if possible, I highly recommend downloading the latest version of WMF 5.0 and installing it on your system (see Installation Instructions). However, for those who can't, we'll be covering some of the differences that you'll need to know about during this series.

Formatting DSC

When you open the Windows PowerShell ISE, you can use CTRL+J or right-click in the scripting pane to open your collection of snippets. Let's start with the DSC Configuration (simple) snippet.

Image of menu

This snippet will give you the basic layout for a configuration. Let's take a quick look at the parts.

configuration Name

Pretty self-explanatory. This is the name of what we'll be calling our configuration. It's similar to how we declare a function in a PSScript. This configuration is going to be targeted at my SCCM distribution points, so I'm going to call this one CMDPConfig:

configuration CMDPConfig


 # One can evaluate expressions to get the node list

 # E.g: $AllNodes.Where("Role -eq Web").NodeName

 node ("Node1","Node2","Node3")


Next, we declare the nodes (servers) that we'll be targeting. You can use parameterization to target a system and use configuration data files to declare roles. Now I'm only targeting one type of server, so I'm going to use my test server name in the node declaration:

configuration CMDPConfig


 # One can evaluate expressions to get the node list

 # E.g: $AllNodes.Where("Role -eq Web").NodeName

 node ("lwincm02")


  # Call Resource Provider

  # E.g: WindowsFeature, File

  WindowsFeature FriendlyName


   Ensure = "Present"

   Name = "Feature Name"


  File FriendlyName


   Ensure   = "Present"

   SourcePath  = $SourcePath

   DestinationPath = $DestinationPath

   Type   = "Directory"

   DependsOn  = "[WindowsFeature]FriendlyName"




The next section is where the meat and potatoes of the configuration begin. This is where you begin declaring DSC resources and setting the desired configuration. The snippet gives you a couple of examples to work with, so we're going to take them apart and see how they work.

Let's look at the WindowsFeature resource example first, since for our distribution point, we'll need to configure some anyway:

   WindowsFeature FriendlyName


   Ensure = "Present"

   Name = "Feature Name"


WindowsFeature is the name of the DSC resource that we're calling. This resource can be found by using the following command:

PS C:\Windows\system32> Get-DscResource -Name WindowsFeature

ImplementedAs Name      ModuleName      Version Properties         

-------------        ----                       ----------             ------- ----------         

PowerShell  WindowsFeature   PSDesiredStateConfiguration 1.1  {Name, Credential, DependsOn, Ensure...}

As we can see, the WindowsFeature DSC resource is part of the PSDesiredStateConfiguration module, which is available without having to download and install additional modules. Note that there is a Properties value there. Let's explore that for a moment:

PS C:\Windows\system32> Get-DscResource -Name WindowsFeature | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Properties 

Name     PropertyType IsMandatory Values  

----            ------------        -----------   ------  

Name     [string]    True {}   

Credential   [PSCredential]  False {}   

DependsOn   [string[]]   False {}   

Ensure    [string]    False {Absent, Present}

IncludeAllSubFeature [bool]    False {}   

LogPath    [string]    False {}   

PsDscRunAsCredential [PSCredential]  False {}   

Source    [string]    False {}

The properties table gives you a list of all of the configurable properties available for a given DSC resource, in addition to whether they are mandatory and what values may be accepted. Pretty cool, but DSC resources do something even better for you when you use the Get-DSCResource cmdlet with the Syntax parameter:

PS C:\Windows\system32> Get-DscResource -Name WindowsFeature -Syntax

WindowsFeature [String] #ResourceName


 Name = [string]

 [Credential = [PSCredential]]

 [DependsOn = [string[]]]

 [Ensure = [string]{ Absent | Present }]

 [IncludeAllSubFeature = [bool]]

 [LogPath = [string]]

 [PsDscRunAsCredential = [PSCredential]]

 [Source = [string]]


Notice how the format of the output resembles that of the format of the Desired State Configuration example? This is by design. So now all you have to do is paste the output into your code as a template! We're going to do exactly that. But first, let's take a look at how the parameters are presented to us.

Reading DSC parameters

Mandatory parameters are listed without being encapsulated in angle brackets, and optional parameters have them, for example:


 Name = [string] #This is a mandatory parameter

 [Credential = [PSCredential]] #This is an optional parameter


Each parameter will also call out the value type that it's looking for. Like a PowerShell cmdlet, arrayed values will be annotated with a second set of angle brackets next to the value. Parameters that have a validated set of inputs will call out the valid inputs that the given parameter is looking for:


 Name = [string] #This can only take a single value

 [DependsOn = [string[]]] #This can take an array of values.

 [Ensure = [string]{ Absent | Present }] #This can only take Absent or Present as valid values.


You can also use hash tables to add multiple values and reuse instances of DSC resources. We'll get into that later—we're just getting started with some basic configurations for now. Now that we have some of the basics for how DSC resource providers work in a configuration script, we're going to gear up and build our first configuration.


Thank you, Will, for another awesome post. He will be back tomorrow with Part 3 of this series.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. Also check out my Microsoft Operations Management Suite Blog. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy

Comments (3)

  1. ML49448 says:

    Just an comment for those (like me) not running Windows 10. WMF 5.0 was yanked from the Download Center for earlier Windows Editions back in December. There was a bug which apparently is sufficiently complex that MS have not yet re-released the download

  2. Garry Trinder says:

    One/two minor things… "…being encapsulated in angle brackets…" / "… second set of angle brackets …" I’d call them square brackets and "……" as encapsulated in angle brackets. Or is this a Powershell ‘thing’? – Otherwise very interesting, thanks!

  3. Garry Trinder says:

    OK above comment seems to have been mangled a bit – and "….." as – should have read "…(less than sign)someval(greater than sign)…" – perhaps it was interpreted as code and ditched sorry

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