Mar 152011
 

With the scripting games coming up, I noticed that they will be adding stars to your work based on the addition of script help blocks that are compatible with the PowerShell “Comment Based Help”. Basically, this is a form of writing a comment block that works in conjunction with the get-help cmdlet that is included with PowerShell.

With this post I am hoping spread the information that this is possible just as much as the how to do it. I think that most script writers don’t even know it’s possible, and I’ll be honest that while I’ve know that you can do it, I don’t include in all of my own scripts.

So, you can add comment based help either to a script or to a function. It is my opinion that you do not need to add the help to a function within a script as no one will be able to run a get-help against it; however, using the format provided to label your functions is probably a good idea.

So, there are two ways to make a comment block and three places to put them.

You can start all the lines in a block with # or you can surround all the lines with <# ...comments... #>. Either form is fine, but the later might be easier for large block; however, the former might be easier to follow if browsing the code. I typically like to start my lines with # as I can quickly see where all the comments start and stop.

As far as where to place them, you can put them at the start of a function or script, at the end of a function or script,or just before the start of a function. Line breaks become very important as spaces between comments and their attached objects will detach them.

Now the comments need to follow the format:

# .KEYWORD
#  Content
#
# .SYNOPSIS
# This is an example of comment based help.

So what kind of keywords are there? This is taken from the help file:

    .SYNOPSIS
        A brief description of the function or script. This keyword can be used
        only once in each topic.

    .DESCRIPTION
        A detailed description of the function or script. This keyword can be
        used only once in each topic.

    .PARAMETER  <Parameter-Name>
        The description of a parameter. You can include a Parameter keyword for
        each parameter in the function or script syntax.

        The Parameter keywords can appear in any order in the comment block,but
        the function or script syntax determines the order in which the parameters
        (and their descriptions) appear in Help topic. To change the order,
        change the syntax.
 
        You can also specify a parameter description by placing a comment in the
        function or script syntax immediately before the parameter variable name.
        If you use both a syntax comment and a Parameter keyword, the description
        associated with the Parameter keyword is used, and the syntax comment is
        ignored.

    .EXAMPLE
        A sample command that uses the function or script, optionally followed
        by sample output and a description. Repeat this keyword for each example.

    .INPUTS
        The Microsoft .NET Framework types of objects that can be piped to the
        function or script. You can also include a description of the input
        objects.

    .OUTPUTS
        The .NET Framework type of the objects that the cmdlet returns. You can
        also include a description of the returned objects.

    .NOTES
        Additional information about the function or script.

    .LINK
        The name of a related topic. Repeat this keyword for each related topic.

        This content appears in the Related Links section of the Help topic.

        The Link keyword content can also include a Uniform Resource Identifier
        (URI) to an online version of the same Help topic. The online version
        opens when you use the Online parameter of Get-Help. The URI must begin
        with "http" or "https".

There are even more past that, but I think that covers the main group. If you want to see them all and get more detailed information go to PowerShell and run Get-Help about_Comment_Based_Help.

As well, there are several built in sections that are generated automatically: Name, Syntax, Parameter List, Common Parameters, Parameter Attribute Table, Remarks.

To get more information and some good examples go to PowerShell and run Get-Help about_Comment_Based_Help.

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