I already have the ISE, do I need… ?

PrimalScript, PowerShell Studio or any other tool in the PowerShell universe you can think of?

We get this question a lot, so I thought I’d give you a few highlights. First and foremost, this is not a game of ISE or not. The ISE is an important tool for your everyday work and you should be as familiar with it as you can. It is a far better shell then ye olde DOS style CLI (Command Line Interface) and your ideal place for shooting off cmdlets to computers near and far.

It is also not a bad tool to write a quick script with ten or so lines. Or twenty. Don’t get hung up on the number, that is an individual preference.

The ISE has a few things that make it less desirable for writing larger scripts. It’s syntax coloring is rigged to color everything as a command.


So you get complete nonsense colored as if it were a valid command. That defeats the purpose of syntax coloring. I type code really fast. If I hit a delimiter, like space, tab, a dot or a parenthesis and the word I just typed doesn’t change color I pause. Because it means I made a typo. For something with a few lines that is perfectly fine, but if you need to debug a 2000 line script someone else wrote you need all the help you can get.


PrimalScript for example will not color things that are not valid commands in the current profile, which brings me to another point. If you need to develop scripts for other computers that have modules that you don’t have locally or cannot install locally, the ISE will not give you any intellisense or help. Yes, you can remote. We know. But what if you are not connected, remoting is not allowed or you simply can’t always wait for the long connection times? PrimalScript and PowerShell Studio have a mechanism to work with different machine profiles and color syntax and show help based on what that other computer has available.

The ISE is also not a tool to develop user interfaces for your help desk or lesser administrators. I mean, sure you can type UI code in the ISE for hundreds of lines, but remember, you didn’t want to type code all day, otherwise you would have become a programmer. So PowerShell Studio would be your logical choice for that type of task. It sure makes it easier. If you haven’t tried it, go ahead, go for it.

The ISE also has no means of packaging and deploying your scripts and associated files. It just wasn’t meant for that kind of task. PowerShell Studio and PrimalScript are designed for developing and deploying solutions. They also work fine for your ten or twenty line scripts. But neither was meant to be a replacement for the ISE.

The ISE has a continuous runspace, which is really a requirement if you want it to work as a console. For developing scripts with the usual code – test – debug cycle you need a reset of your runspace after each iteration. Otherwise you would never get repeatable results.

Try remote debugging a server halfway around the globe with the ISE. You can’t. That’s what PrimalScript and PowerShell Studio do if you need it.

Picking the right tool for the job is not a religious style endeavor where you only get to pick one and have to swear allegiance to it for the rest of your life. You pick what you need and you change as you progress. There is always overlap between tools and the same is true for the ISE compared to any of our editor products. But each also has their strong points and their purpose. You need to decide what you need and where you are with your skill set and your requirements. The answer to the initial question is usually “yes”. You need more than one tool. Maybe not today. Maybe not even everyday. But just like your favorite hammer in your toolbox, the ISE can’t do everything.

So go check out what we have. Check out other tools. And if we don’t have what you need, talk to us.