Mar 31, 2016

Powershell and chef - how to view the script powershell_script resource is executing

So, I was troubleshooting passing arrays to powershell_script resource.

Troubleshooting powershell_script

First - the easy way. Just run chef-client -l debug. In debug logging, you can see the whole script, which might be enough.

What makes troubleshooting powershell_script difficult, is the way it works from inside chef. A temporary file is created, and immediately nuked after execution, making it somewhat difficult to see exactly what happened.

After some messing around, I realized a simple trick:
powershell_script 'script_name' do
  code <<-EOH
    copy $MyInvocation.ScriptName c:/chef_powershell_staging_file.ps1  EOH

Passing array node attributes to powershell_script:

Seems that in defining a generic array, ruby inserts square brackets [ ] which actually become part of the string when consumed by powershell_script, and powershell chokes on it.
default['test_cookbook']['array'] = 'string1','string2' 
default['test_cookbook']['array'] = %w(string1,string2)
In both of the above, Powershell will either throw an error or generally not work as expected
Missing type name after '[' 
What actually happens, is during resource declaration phase, the square brackets get escaped (you can see it via chef-shell by creating a simple bash or powershell_script resource)

chef:attributes (12.8.1)> default['test_cookbook']['array'] = 'string1','string2'=> ["string1", "string2"]
for example bash:
chef:recipe >bash 'some-bash' do
chef:recipe > code <<-EOH
chef:recipe"> $Array = #{node['test_cookbook']['array']}
chef:recipe"> EOH
chef:recipe ?> end
=> <bash[Set-VariableArray] .... @code: " $Array = [\"string1\", \"string2\"] \n" ... 
using native ruby:
default['a']['b'] = %w(a,b,c)
keeping the recipe the same, the resulting code will be:
... @code: " $Array = [\"a,b,c\"] \n" ... 

Solution - simple in retrospect - double quotes:
node.default['a'] = "'value1', 'value2', 'value3'"
In your recipe, you'll get an actual powershell array:

powershell_script 'script_name' do
  code <<-EOH
    Out-File -InputObject "#{node['a']}".GetType() c:/out.txt

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