Use Nuget to Share PowerShell Modules in your Enterprise

Nuget is not just for developers! If you are an IT Pro, you can use it as well. Nuget is a relatively new tool from Microsoft that provides the ability for people to easily share and use code. Microsoft is marketing it to developers as the way to share and use Open Source code in Visual Studio Projects. It does a great job at this and is really starting to take off in the developer community. But we, IT Pros, can take it and use it for PowerShell Modules.

So why would you want to use Nuget to source your enterprise scripts?

  • Versioning– You can match your Module Version numbers with the Nuget Package version
  • Dependencies – In a Nuget Package, you can say this package depends on this package, so check to see if its installed and if not, please install it for me.
  • At least 10 other cool things that I haven’t discovered yet.
    Nuget is a client server application. You can save a bunch of packages up on a server, and you use the client to download and install these packages. Microsoft hosts a Nuget server that currently has around 1500 published packages that you can use.

Last week at Teched Scott Hanselman gave a talk on using Nuget in the Enterprise.  The quick version of the talk is that you can host your own internal Nuget Server. In fact, all you really need to do is set up a file share. The other key is that all you need to access the packages on a Nuget Server is the Nuget command line tool

After seeing this talk, I was thinking this could be a great tool to distribute and share PowerShell Modules with the rest of my IT Department. What I didn’t know was whether or not it would be easy to package up a module and then install it using Nuget. So I started playing. As an example, I am going to use a Module I wrote to manage my work items in TFS.

The first thing to do is download the Nuget command line tool. After you download it, be sure to unblock it because it was downloaded from the Internet. I put the file in a directory in my documents folder and created an alias to it.

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Once that is set up, you can start creating a package. There are a couple things you need to do if you are using the command line version of Nuget.

First, you need to create a spec file.  You can do this with the command nuget spec, as shown below. You can see that it creates an XML file.

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There are all kinds of properties here that you can set. I am going to leave everything as default for demo purposes, except that I am going to rip out the dependency node and change the tag values to something more reasonable. This could obviously be automated very easily, but I simply used good old notepad2.

Now the dependency node is gone and tags are updated.

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Once we have this we can create the package, again using nuget.exe. I really should mention that there are conventions for structuring a package. You can read all about it on http://nuget.org. I am going to completely ignore them because all I really care about the PowerShell Module.

Nuget.exe has a parameter called pack. You can specify a directory to package up by specifying the basepath parameter, the spec file, and the output directory.

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Now I have a package called tfs.1.0.nupkg. NUPKG is the extension for Nuget Package. All this really is a zip file. In fact,you can rename this to tfs.1.0.zip and unzip the contents. In there is all the files for my modules.

OK, so now that I have a package, I need to put it somewhere where people can access it and pull it down with a Nuget client. There are tons of articles on how to create your own Nuget Server. http://docs.nuget.org/docs/creating-packages/hosting-your-own-nuget-feeds.

If you just want to use a file share, you can do that. Or you can actually build a NuGet Server Web Site. I guarantee that you won’t have to write any code, but you would have to install Visual Studio Express, or get a developer to build a quick app for you. NuGet server itself is a Nuget Package. With Visual Studio installed, I had my NuGet Server up and running in under 10 minutes. 

After you set up your Nuget Server, there is a directory where you can place your packages. It is appropriately named, “Packages.” Here is the directory where I have all my files for my local instance of IIS. You can see that I have two packages up here, one for the DataOnTap Module and the one we just created.

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Here is the client listing the available packages from this source.

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For the sake of demonstration, I created a folder called c:\modules and used nuget.exe to install my module there.

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The only thing wrong with this is that the folder name contains the version and the nupkg file is still around. This can all be cleaned up pretty easily, manually, using PowerShell, or probably with some Nuget options I haven’t found yet.

I will be testing this out this week too see what else I can come up with. I am looking forward to seeing how versioning works. Also, I want to wrap some of this functionality with Advanced Functions.

If you install Visual Studio and Nuget, you will also get a set of PowerShell cmdlets to manage packages. However, as of right now the Module is not a separate download. I’ll look into this and let you know what else I find. I am sure there will be at least one or two follow up posts on this as I learn more about NuGet.

Comments (1) -

search engine 1/13/2015 1:49:19 PM

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

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