Pausing Long-Running PowerShell

I recently developed a PowerShell script that was going to run for a few days.

Given it was going to run for so long, I really wanted to be able to pause it if necessary to prevent having to start all over again. Not only that, but ideally I wanted others to be able to pause it too.

The script was running in bite-size batches so my initial thinking was to add a Start-Sleep at the start of each batch and look for keyboard input. However, this only works if it is running as a service account so others can log in to access the script window.

I decided to combine this concept with checking the content of a text file. If it contains YES then just carry on as usual, otherwise, sleep and then check again.

This means that anybody can edit the text file, change the contents and save it – and the script will gracefully pause when it gets to the next convenient point.

To start it up again then anybody with access can just edit the text file, set the value to YES, and the script will start up again as if nothing happened when it gets to the end of the current sleep.

$batchNum = 1;
$continueFile = 'continue.txt';
Write-Host "Starting . . .";
do {
  Write-Host "Batch $batchNum";
  do {
    $continue = Get-Content $continueFile;
    if ($continue -ne 'YES') {
      Write-Host "Pausing for 10 seconds - to restart ensure continue.txt = YES";
      Start-Sleep 10;
    } else {
      Write-Host "Continuing . . .";
  } while ($continue -ne 'YES')
  Start-Sleep 10;
} while ($batchNum -lt 1000)
Write-Host "Finished . . .";

Of course, if you really need to then you can always CTRL+C to cancel the script at any stage too, but this is a simple way to not only allow the script owner to pause but allow others to pause too.

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Power BI – Maps

OK, so it has been a while since my last post.  Too busy?  Lack of inspiration? Tired fingers?  Lots of excuses but I finally got around to dusting off the keyboard so brace yourself for some Power BI.

If any of you have not yet taken a look at Power BI then you are missing a treat.  It has come a long way since the early days of the Excel plug-in with a great desktop app which is free to download – so what are you waiting for?  I will be presenting a workshop and session at the Digital Workplace Conference in Sydney coming up in August so you have no excuses.  Well maybe just finish reading this first?

Maps can really give your data some visual context and they are really easy to do in Power BI but there are a few little tips to prepare your data so that is what I am going to focus on today.

The first thing I am going to do is grab the Australian States and Territories from a web page.

Select Get Data and choose Web as the source.  Then paste in a good URL for your data:


Clicking OK will take you to the Navigator page which lets you choose which data on the page you would like to include.  In this case I want the Statistics table so I tick that and click Load:


So now we have some geographic data we are ready to create a map right?  Well not quite.  The problem is that there seem to be other geographic places around the world with the same names, so just creating a map as it is will likely give you some unexpected results – and using abbreviations is even worse.

The first thing I want to do is add a column to our data.  I could do this through the Data view but I want to try out a cool new feature so use Edit Queries and select Add Column from the tabs at the top of the page.  Select the State / Territory column and then choose Column From Examples -> From Selection:


Type into the first row of the column created:

Australian Capital Territory, Australia

You will notice that Power BI automatically assumes you want the same pattern applied to all the other rows too:


Click, OK then Close and Apply and you now have a column which also references the country.  Even I could not confuse that with Victoria in South Africa.

One last step.

Select the new column – I have left it with the default name Combined – and from the Modelling tab choose Data Category -> State or Province:


We are now ready to create our map.  In the Report view click on the Combined column and Land Area km2 and then choose the Map or the Filled Map:


Nice work!  We got to load data from a web site, add a column by example, correctly categorise our data and create a chart.  Not bad for a few minutes work!

Have fun – and do come say hello at the conference if you are attending.

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Missing out on Intellectual Property

If your organisation is using shared folders with restricted access then you will almost certainly not be realising the potential value of your intellectual property.

Take a look at my post on the Cost of Information Silos and then try calculating with figures from your own organisation.

You will probably be surprised at how much you are missing out on!

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Set JSLink on a Site Column With JSOM

I remain very impressed with JSLink and what it can do, particularly related to individual site columns.  While preparing a presentation for the local Office 365 Saturday event here in Brisbane, Queensland I realised that while it is easy to connect a JSLink script to a site column using PowerShell, there have been many occasions on client sites where I have been limited to Site Collection administrator access permissions with no access to a server.

While I live in hope that one day Microsoft might add that simple text field to the properties of a site column in the browser, I figured it must be possible using JavaScript with JSOM.

And of course it is . . .

var context = new SP.ClientContext.get_current();
var web = context.get_web();
var field = web.get_availableFields().getByTitle("My Site Column");
field.set_jsLink("~sitecollection/Style Library/custom/MyJSLink.js");
var jsl = field.get_jsLink();

This can be run from the console in a browser – just make sure you use your site column name and set the path to your script. You do also need to be logged in as a Site Collection administrator. Oh, and it works for Office 365 too.

There is also a copy on GitHub if you prefer.

Happy JSLinking!

Posted in JSLink, Office 365, SharePoint | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Site Column Display Templates – KPIs

Furthering my theme of Site Column Display Templates, this is really simple but one that I will definitely reuse over and over.

Site Column
Title: kpiIcon
Type: Choice [Red, Yellow, Green]

This site column can now be added to any list or library as usual.

Display Template
You can copy or download the complete display template from GitHub.

var paylord = paylord || {};
paylord.kpi = paylord.kpi || {};

paylord.kpi.viewFieldTemplate = function(ctx) {
var kpi = ctx.CurrentItem[ctx.CurrentFieldSchema.Name];
var suffix = "";
if (kpi == "Green") {
suffix = "0.gif";
} else if (kpi == "Red") {
suffix = "2.gif";
} else {
suffix = "1.gif";
var ret = "<img title="&quot; + kpi + &quot;" src="/_layouts/images/kpidefault-&quot; + suffix + &quot;" alt="" />";
return ret;

(function () {
var fieldCtx = {};
fieldCtx.Templates = {};
fieldCtx.Templates.Fields = {
"kpiIcon": {
"View": paylord.kpi.viewFieldTemplate,
"DisplayForm": paylord.kpi.viewFieldTemplate



Told you it was simple. The scoping object is set up to keep it behaving nicely then my function checks the selected choice value (Red, Yellow or Green) and returns an image using the standard SharePoint icons.

In this case I have not made any change to the edit mode but applied my function to both the View and Display modes.

The ability to add the JSLink property through the UI to a Site Column seems to have been forgotten by Microsoft so I am hoping we can encourage them to make this simple enhancement – add your vote through User Voice.

In the meantime we are stuck with using a few lines of PowerShell:

$web = Get-SPWeb "http://sitename"
$field = $web.Fields["kpiIcon"]
$field.JSLink = "~sitecollection/Style Library/custom/KPI.js"

Choosing the KPI value is not changed at all so is a standard radio button:
Choosing KPI

When in display or view mode the KPI is displayed as an icon:

Completely reusable by anybody with the ability to add columns to list or libraries – a great and simple addition to any SharePoint environment.

Posted in SharePoint | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Display Templates – Colour Picker

Following on from my recent post which explores the potential of using Display Templates with Site Columns I wanted to expand on that concept with another idea that has proved a challenge in SharePoint – a colour picker.

There are several times in the past I have wanted to allow a user to choose a colour – perhaps for a particular category in a list driven menu. Display Templates let me do just this.

Site Column
Name: ColourPicker
Type: Single line of text

As usual, you can give this a friendly display name by editing after it has been created, but that is all you need to do for the site column. It is ready to be added to any list or library and will hold the hex value of the selected colour.

Display Template
You can get the full Display Template here on GitHub. Note that I have extended the basic concept to also display the RGB values just in case you need them. As is my usual approach I have saved my file into a custom folder inside my Style Library.

The invertColour function simply lets me show the hex value in display mode using a contrasting colour to the background which is my selected colour.

paylord.colourPicker.invertColour = function(hexTripletColor) {
    var color = hexTripletColor;
    //color = color.substring(1);         // remove #
    color = parseInt(color, 16);          // convert to integer
    color = 0xFFFFFF ^ color;             // invert three bytes
    color = color.toString(16);           // convert to hex
    color = ("000000" + color).slice(-6); // pad with leading zeros
    //color = "#" + color;                // prepend #
    return color;

To be able to show the RGB values of my selected colour, I also need to convert from hex:

paylord.colourPicker.hexToRgb = function(hex) {
    // Expand shorthand form (e.g. "03F") to full form (e.g. "0033FF")
    var shorthandRegex = /^#?([a-f\d])([a-f\d])([a-f\d])$/i;
    hex = hex.replace(shorthandRegex, function(m, r, g, b) {
        return r + r + g + g + b + b;

    var result = /^#?([a-f\d]{2})([a-f\d]{2})([a-f\d]{2})$/i.exec(hex);
    return result ? {
        r: parseInt(result[1], 16),
        g: parseInt(result[2], 16),
        b: parseInt(result[3], 16)
    } : null;

So now I bring those together with a template to display the selected value in view mode:

paylord.colourPicker.colourViewTemplate = function(ctx) {
	var colour = ctx.CurrentItem[ctx.CurrentFieldSchema.Name];
	if (colour == "") {
		colour = "353535";
	if (colour[0] == "#") {
		colour = colour.substring(1);
	var rgb = paylord.colourPicker.hexToRgb(colour);
	var title = "";
	title = "R:" + rgb.r + " G: " + rgb.g + " B:" + rgb.b;
	var fontColour = paylord.colourPicker.invertColour(colour);

	var ret = "<div title='" + title + "' style='background-color: #" + colour + ";color:#" + fontColour + ";padding: 0px 5px;'>" + colour + "</div>";
	return ret;

So now to focus on setting the colour. What I want to do is grab the current value or set a default if it is blank then ensure I set the class so my field is recognised by the colour picker:

paylord.colourPicker.colourEditTemplate = function(ctx) {
	var formCtx = SPClientTemplates.Utility.GetFormContextForCurrentField(ctx); 
	formCtx.registerGetValueCallback(formCtx.fieldName, paylord.colourPicker.getFieldValue.bind(null, formCtx.fieldName));
	var elId = "paylord-" + formCtx.fieldName;
	var colour = ctx.CurrentItem[ctx.CurrentFieldSchema.Name];
	if (colour == "") {
		colour = "#353535";
	var ret = "<input id='" + elId + "' class='color' value='" + colour + "'>";
	return ret;

And finally, I register my templates:

(function () {
	var colourCtx = {};
	colourCtx.Templates = {};
	colourCtx.Templates.Fields = {
		"Colour": {
			"View": paylord.colourPicker.colourViewTemplate,
			"DisplayForm": paylord.colourPicker.colourViewTemplate,
			"EditForm": paylord.colourPicker.colourEditTemplate,
			"NewForm": paylord.colourPicker.colourEditTemplate


Colour Picker Script
For the purposes of this example, I decided to go with a pure JavaScript colour picker rather than one dependent on jQuery. There are many to choose from out there so feel free to experiment and find one you like. I went with JSColor which is really easy to interface with as all I had to do was give the input field a class of “color”.

In this case, our template needs both the Display Template and the JSColor script so this introduces the ability to add multiple scripts to our Site Column. It is just the same as before but we separate each script we want to reference with a pipe ¦ character:

$web = Get-SPWeb "http://sitename"
$field = $web.Fields["ColourPicker"]
$field.JSLink = "~sitecollection/Style Library/custom/jscolor.js¦~sitecollection/Style Library/custom/ColourPicker.js"

The Resulting Column in Action

Colour Picker showing RGB hover text

Colour Picker showing RGB hover text

Colour Picker Showing Picker

Colour Picker Showing Picker

So here is the resulting column in display mode and edit mode. When you click on the input in edit mode then the colour picker appears and lets you choose the colour you like which then stores the hex value in the text field.

JSLink Property
Being able to add the JSLink through the standard browser interface settings for the site column would make this whole approach so much more flexible so I have raised it as a suggestion on User Voice – please add your vote.

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