Introducing the Windows PowerShell ISE Preview

Today I’m pleased to share some exciting new plans that will change how we develop the PowerShell ISE so that it keeps up with the evolving needs of our users.  Those of you who saw the teaser at the end of the announcement of PowerShell for Visual Studio Code, this is the follow-up you’ve been patiently waiting for!

Here are the details:

A new preview release model for the PowerShell ISE

The biggest news is that we’ve developed a new strategy to ship a separate preview edition of the PowerShell ISE. This enables us to add new features and release them to all of you much faster than before.  Previously you had to wait for new Windows or WMF releases before you would get an updated ISE.  Thanks to the PowerShell Gallery, we can now ship the Windows PowerShell ISE Preview as often as we like!

How does this affect the built-in PowerShell ISE?

One useful aspect of this release model is that you can use both the built-in PowerShell ISE and the ISE Preview on the same machine at the same time.  This allows you to try out new ISE Preview features without disrupting any mission-critical work or demos that rely on the stable built-in release.  Eventually some of the new features shipped in the ISE Preview will appear in a future version of the built-in PowerShell ISE in Windows.  Our goal is to quickly iterate on new improvements in the ISE Preview with the help of early adopters so that we know we’re making the right changes before we integrate them back into the built-in ISE.

Installing the ISE Preview

Installing the ISE Preview is easy!  To install it system-wide, use this command in an elevated PowerShell prompt:

Install-Module -Name PowerShellISE-preview

You can also use the -Scope CurrentUser parameter if you’d like to install it only for your account.

Once the module is installed, you can launch the ISE Preview with the following alias:

isep

If you’d like to have Start Menu shortcuts created, you can use the following command:

Install-ISEPreviewShortcuts

These new shortcuts will launch the new ISE Preview directly out of its installed module path.

NOTE: If these commands are not found, you might need to run Import-Module PowerShellISE-preview first.
 

Current Limitations

  • Currently the ISE Preview only works with PowerShell v5 installed, either in-box with Windows 10 (RTM and November Update) or with WMF 5.0 Production Preview.
  • This preview release is English-only.  We want to be able to add new UI without involving the localization team until the new changes have stabilized.
  • Existing add-ons could have issues running in the new ISE Preview.  We’ve tested a couple of popular add-ons (ISE Steroids, Azure Automation Authoring Toolkit) and things generally seem fine.  Please feel free to send us feedback if you see add-on issues that only appear in the ISE Preview.
     

A new plan for PowerShell ISE feature development

You may notice after installing the ISE Preview that not much has changed; this is intentional!  This first release is meant to ensure that the new preview release model will work and that there are no major issues.  After the initial release, we hope to ship a new release roughly once per month with new feature improvements and bug fixes.  It will also be a lot easier to ship minor releases to address bugs that may appear due to new features.

Here are some improvement areas where we’ll be investing effort:

Add-on model improvements

The biggest area of investment will be improvements to the add-on model to make it easier for add-on authors to implement useful new features.  I’d also like to experiment with the addition of new official features which are developed as open-source add-ons from day one.  This will allow the community to get directly involved in the development of these new features.

The ultimate goal of these add-on improvements is to enable all non-core feature additions to be developed and updated independently of the core PowerShell ISE codebase.  This will allow the core ISE experience to remain minimal while easily being able to bring in powerful new tools developed both by Microsoft and the PowerShell community.  

Addressing UserVoice feedback

The other big area of investment will be to work on high-value improvements that address user feedback.  Now that we have an easy way to release new updates to the PowerShell ISE, we’d like to start tackling the  issues that have been filed on our UserVoice site. After this initial release, we’ll start chipping away at this backlog of feature requests prioritized by the number of votes each has received.  Please go check out the ISE and Tooling section of the PowerShell UserVoice site and go vote up all of the feedback items that you’d like to see us work on!
 

Let us know what you think!

We’re excited to hear what you think of this plan and the initial PowerShell ISE Preview release.  Please let us know in the comments section below!

 

David Wilson (@daviwil)
Senior Software Engineer
Windows PowerShell Team