While with the time and knowledge we can write a lot of the things we’ll use in Powershell, it’s often not worth it to re-invent the wheel. There’s a group of Powershell coders who have put together the Powershell Community Extensions – a set of Powershell aliases, functions, and other useful code to make working with Powershell a little easier.
For example, there’s a built-in function to split a string. Functions and DLLs are included to read and write ZIP files. There are even some Cmdlets written to allow easy reading and writing from the clipboard or MSMQ. While not all of this will be immediately useful, it’s definitely worth having around.
Installation should be pretty straightforward. Make sure all instances of Powershell are closed. The recommended install is performed using the MSI file. If you want the latest version, you’ll have to unzip the file into your Documents\Windows Powershell\Modules folder. After that, you can import the module using “Import-Module PSCX”. There is supposed to be a way to customize what you actually import as well so you don’t load items you’ll never use. The details should be on the Powershell Community Extensions site.
While I’m at it, I’d like to give props to John D. Cook who has written a short pamphlet called Day 1 With Powershell which lists a lot of little things that he wished he’d known before starting. There is some good, basic information in it, including configuration, some basics behind Powershell decisions (like = vs –eq), and some pointers to other Powershell sites. I’d recommend it if you’re just getting started with Powershell as it could give you some pointers on how to proceed past the basics.