Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Creating a Graphical User Interface (GUI) with Powershell

One of the first things I wanted to do when I started learning Powershell was to create a simple graphical user interface (GUI) that I could use to automate some of my day to day tasks. One main task in particular that took up a lot of my time was creating new user accounts. The process involved creating an Active Directory account, attaching a new mailbox to the Active directory account, adding the new account to security and distribution groups, and also sending a notification email to the new account requester with all the information in it. Doing this process manually was incredibly time consuming, and I knew there had to be a better way.

By using Powershell, I created a script that prompts with several input boxes and list boxes where I can enter all the required details to create a user account. All these inputs are saved as variables, and can then be used to run a single command to perform all the necessary steps.

Here is a screenshot of one of the input boxes that is presented during the script:

By repeating this prompt for first name, last name, office, department, title, phone number, password etc, I was able to quickly and easily collect all the information I needed to create an Active Directory account using the dsadd command - which also runs as part of the script once all the information has been collected.

Once I had an Active Directory account created, I was then able to create a mailbox and attach it to the Active Directory account using the Enable-Mailbox cmdlet.

And finally, once the Active Directory account and mailbox were created,  I could add the user to any required security/distribution groups, and send all the new account information via email to the requester. (I will cover each these topics in more detail in future blog posts.)

One of the most valuable things you can teach yourself with Powershell is how to create input boxes and list boxes for the collecting of information you require to run a command. Some examples of such commands are creating user accounts (as I just discussed), enabling or disabling ActiveSync on a mailbox, or enabling/disabling email forwarding. The possibilities are endless, though most of mine focus around the Active Directory/Microsoft Exchange technologies.

This Technet Article is what I used to get started on input boxes and highly recommend it as a starting point as the article breaks down each line of code and explains what it does.

Once you learn how to create, modify and use input boxes, you can apply the same lines of code over and over again within all your scripts - invest the time to learn it and it will save you time in the end, and open up enormous possibilities/options for your Powershell scripting.

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