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Running Windows PowerShell Commands in a Workflow

Published: June 24, 2013

Updated: June 24, 2013

Applies To: Windows PowerShell 3.0, Windows PowerShell 4.0, Windows Server 2012 R2



To run commands or expressions in a workflow that are valid in Windows PowerShell, but not valid in workflows, run the commands in an inlineScript activity. You can use also an inlineScript activity to run Windows PowerShell scripts (.ps1 files) in a workflow.

The inlineScript activity runs commands in a standard, non-workflow Windows PowerShell session and then returns the output to the workflow. It is valid only in workflows.

The commands in an inlineScript script block run in a single session and can share data, such as the values of variables. By default, the InlineScript session runs "out-of-process," that is, it runs in its own process, not in the workflow process. However, you can change this default by changing the value of the OutOfProcessActivity property of the session configuration.

The following diagram shows the syntax of the inlineScript activity.

inlineScript {<script block>} <WorkflowCommonParameters>

Because it is an activity, but not a cmdlet, the inlineScript activity has the activity common parameters, but it does not have the Windows PowerShell common parameters.

When creating inlineScript commands, remember that the commands in an InlineScript script block do not have the features of a workflow, such as automatic multi-computer management. To run the commands in inlinescript activity on remote computers, you need to establish and manage connections to the remote computer from within the inlinescript block and then run the commands remotely.

An inlineScript script block can include all valid Windows PowerShell commands and expressions, including commands, expressions, and syntax that are not otherwise valid in a workflow. The commands and expressions in the script block share all state and data, including the values of variables.

You can place an inlineScript activity anywhere in a workflow or nested workflow, including inside a loop or control statement or a Parallel or Sequence script block.

The inlineScript activity has the activity common parameters, including PSPersist. However, the commands and expressions in an inlineScript script block do not have the features of workflows, such as checkpointing ("persistence") or the activity common parameters.

By default, the variables that are defined in a workflow are not visible to the commands in the InlineScript script block. To make workflow variables visible to the InlineScript, use the $Using scope modifier.

The following example shows how to make the values of top-level workflow variables available to the commands in an inlineScript script block.

workflow Test-Workflow
{
    $a = 3

    # Without $Using, the $a workflow variable is not visible
    # in inline script.
    InlineScript {"Inline A0 = $a"}
    
    # $Using imports the variable and its current value.
    InlineScript {"Inline A1 = $Using:a"}
}

PS C:\> Test-Workflow
Inline A0 = 
Inline A1 = 3

InlineScript commands can change the value of the variable that was imported from workflow scope, but the changes are not visible in workflow scope. To make them visible, return the changed value to the workflow scope, as shown in the following example.

workflow Test-Workflow
{
    $a = 3

    # Changes to an InlineScript variable do not affect
    # the workflow variable.
    InlineScript {$a = $using:a+1; "Inline A = $a"}
    "Workflow A = $a"

    # To change the value in workflow scope, return the new value.
     $a = InlineScript {$a = $Using:a+1; $a}
     "Workflow New A = $a"
}   

PS C:\> Test-Workflow
Inline A = 4
Workflow A = 3
Workflow New A = 4

securitySecurity Note
Troubleshooting Note: A statement with the $Using scope modifier should appear before any use of the variable in the InlineScript script block. In Windows PowerShell 3.0, the $Using scope modifier can appear anywhere in the InlineScript script block, but this behavior might change in future versions of Windows PowerShell.

To improve reliability, the commands in an InlineScript script block run in their own process, outside of the process in which the workflow runs, and then return their output to the workflow process. To direct Windows PowerShell to run the InlineScript activity in the workflow process, remove the InlineScript value from the OutOfProcessActivity property of the session configuration, such as by using the OutOfProcessActivity parameter of the New-PSWorkflowExecutionOption cmdlet.

The following command sequence shows how to remove the InlineScript value from the OutOfProcessActivity property and then to restore the value to the Microsoft.PowerShell.Workflow session configuration by deleting the session configuration, and then running the Enable-PSRemoting cmdlet to recreate it.

#To run InlineScript in the workflow process
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> (Get-PSSessionConfiguration Microsoft.PowerShell.Workflow).OutOfProcessActivity
InlineScript
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> $o = New-PSWorkflowExecutionOption -OutOfProcessActivity ""
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> Set-PSSessionConfiguration Microsoft.PowerShell.Workflow -SessionTypeOption $o -Force
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> (Get-PSSessionConfiguration Microsoft.PowerShell.Workflow).OutOfProcessActivity
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> 

#To restore the default setting and run InlineScript out of process
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> (Get-PSSessionConfiguration Microsoft.PowerShell.Workflow) | Unregister-PSSessionConfiguration -Force
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> Enable-PSRemoting -Force
WinRM is already set up to receive requests on this computer.
WinRM is already set up for remote management on this computer.
[ADMIN]: PS C:\> (Get-PSSessionConfiguration Microsoft.PowerShell.Workflow).OutOfProcessActivity
InlineScript

The following workflow uses an InlineScript activity to run a Windows PowerShell script (.ps1 file) in a workflow.

Workflow Test-Workflow
{
    InlineScript 
    {
        \\Server01\Share01\Get-AssetData.ps1 -All
    }    
} 

The InlineScript in the following workflow includes commands that are valid in Windows PowerShell, but not in workflows, including the use of the New-Object cmdlet with the ComObject parameter. The results are returned to the workflow so they can be used in workflow activities.

workflow Test-Workflow
{
    $ie = InlineScript 
    {
New-Object -ComObject InternetExplorer.Application 
-property @{navigate2="www.microsoft.com"}
    }
    $ie.LocationName    
} 

PS C:>Test-Workflow
Microsoft Corporation: Software, Smartphones, Online, Games, Cloud Computing, IT Business Technology, Downloads

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