Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Some feedback on the new Exchange PowerShell cmdlets

As someone who has been working pretty much dedicated with Exchange since ~2000 I have witnessed quite a few changes. The single most important one is the move to PowerShell as the primary management interface. The Exchange team was the first within Microsoft to switch for the full 100% to PowerShell and at least two version of Exchange have seen their release slightly delayed because they had to wait for the PowerShell version GA first.

While all other products continued to implement PowerShell as well and used the same set of professional standards there were significant differences to notice between the various implementations. I always preferred the way how the Exchange team implemented PowerShell. Identity is always positional parameter 1, Get cmdlets without a parameter return the first 1k of results or whatever is the default value of ResultSize for that cmdlet and destructive cmdlets (Set, Remove, New) always support the -WhatIf switch. I’m sure that every Exchange admin once tried to run Get-ADuser and discover that the cmdlet doesn’t return any values unless you specify a value for -Filter.

Personally I always preferred the consistent and user friendly implementation in Exchange. Maybe that’s why it bothers me that Microsoft no longer applies the same standard to new cmdlets that are being added in Exchange and Exchange Online.

An example is Get-FoucesedInbox and Set-FoucesedInbox:


The first example shows that the -Identity parameter no longer is a the first positional parameter, a positional parameter can be omitted and PowerShell assumes the first value after the cmdlet to be meant for the first positional parameter. This can be a bit annoying because Exchange admins are no longer used to specify the -Identity parameter because they never had to.

What’s more serious is that Set-FoucesedInbox no longer accepts the -WhatIf switch. -WhatIf tells the cmdlet to perform all prerequisite checks but not to make the actual changes. This parameter is essential for admins to check their syntax before running the actual cmdlet.

Some other examples of cmdlets that did not receive the -WhatIf switch are:



Exchange Online

Set-Clutter X X
Set-CompliancePolicySyncTenantInfo X X
Remove-BlockedSenderAddress   X
Remove-CompliancePolicySyncNotification X X
Set-OMEConfiguration   X
New-ReportSchedule   X
Set-ReportSchedule   X

As you may notice they were all added in the last few years.

While I understand that the industry has changed and Microsoft’s priorities are different in the ‘cloud first’ era, I do urge the Exchange Team to keep focus on what made them successful in the first place: excellent quality and always strive to deliver the best. Please do not forget to think of the people that are actually working with the product.