The Azure PowerShell team has unveiled Az Predictor, a handy command line helper aimed at easing casual users into the often complicated cmdlet world of PowerShell.
Az Predictor will strike terror into the hearts of hair-shirted PowerShell users who have carefully memorised the 4,000 or so cmdlets exposed by Azure PowerShell (which average around 10 parameters each.) Aimed at those lacking instant recall of all the possible permutations, it makes for an easier command line experience.
Rather than requiring a user to reach for the documentation, or scroll through the pages spat out by a help parameter, Az Predictor instead behaves for all the world like a text mode version of Intellisense. A listview mode will show several suggestions below the command line with the complete parameter set displayed while inline mode shows a suggestion in faint text on the command line as the user types.
The Az Predictor is also aware of the context of the user’s session and so will have a crack at making more appropriate suggestions rather than throwing up a range of simple matches.
We took the preview out for a spin and came away impressed by the functionality. Other autocomplete services have been around for a while (tab completion has been a thing in PowerShell for over a decade and even the venerable
cmd has some very basic features) but the extra help made command line Azure tinkering considerably more bearable.
The contextual awareness is neat and, while not as spookily accurate (or hilariously inaccurate) as Visual Studio’s IntelliSense, it cut down on the frequency of trips to the online help to find a particularly esoteric parameter.
“We worked closely with the PowerShell team to have Az be the first module that leverages this new interface,” explained Damien Caro, Microsoft Program Manager.
The Predictive Intellisense used by Az Predictor is implemented in the PowerShell engine and presented through the PSReadLine module. Getting things working requires popping on some beta software (this is preview code after all) in the form of PowerShell 7.1 Preview 7 and PSReadline 2.2 Beta 1.
More annoying is the requirement for an internet connection, although the team is planning support for disconnected environments.
If you spend more time than you’d like trying to find your way through Azure PowerShell’s byzantine maze of cmdlets, Az Predictor is a handy tool to have. ®