How To Write a Console Application in PowerShell with Add-Type

How To Write a Console Application in PowerShell with Add-Type

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Windows PowerShell CTP3 has a lot of very cool things.  CTP2 introduced the Add-Type cmdlet, which allowed you to dynamically compile C# in PowerShell.  It was actually possible to use the CompilerParameters to Add-Type to make a console application, but it wasn't particularly easy.  In CTP3, we've made this a lot easier to do.

There's now an -OutputType parameter for Add-Type.  It can either output a Library (the default), a ConsoleApplication, or a WindowsApplication.  Check out this really quick "Hello World" program built using Add-Type.

Add-Type -OutputType ConsoleApplication -OutputAssembly HelloWorld.exe @"
using System;

public class MyProgram
    public static void Main(string[] args) {
        Console.WriteLine("Hello World");

Hope this Helps,

James Brundage [MSFT]

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  • Very Cool .... I was trying to think when would you want to do this ?

  • There's no value in marking the class and the Main() method 'public'.

  • PowerShell Team is trying to make admins learn C#.

    How fearful this plan is!

  • @Smith

    > PowerShell Team is trying to make admins learn C#.

    Absolutely not!

    Now we do want to make it super easy to learn C# for those Admins that want to (some will) but we have zero interest in forcing admins to learn C#.

    We provide functions like these so that DEVELOPERS (or advanced scripters) can use PowerShell to provide the right abstractions to Admins.

    Jeffrey Snover [MSFT]

    Windows Management Partner Architect

    Visit the Windows PowerShell Team blog at:

    Visit the Windows PowerShell ScriptCenter at:

  • @Jeffrey

    It's just a joke, of course:)

  • I very quickly run into this little gem of an error....

    I'm running v2.0 ctp3 just downloaded!

    just copied the string and pasted it to ps...

    What did I do wrong!

    Unrecognized token in source text.

    At line:1 char:72

    + Add-Type -OutputType ConsoleApplication -OutputAssembly HelloWorld.exe  <<<< @"

       + CategoryInfo          : ParserError: (:) [], ParentContainsErrorRecordException

       + FullyQualifiedErrorId : UnrecognizedToken

  • @ lcr

    You did nothing wrong, because the text is not preformatted, here documents @"


    End up with an extra non-standard space at the end of the first line, which will often break it (it's a strange copy/paste behavior from Internet Explorer)

    Simply delete the last character on the line.


    I think the case of writing a WindowsApplication is more interesting that the case of ConsoleApplication, but one reason you might want to do this is to expose the information in a way that's easier for a command script, VBScript, or JScript to handle.

    It's also valuable if systems administrators want to use the power of PowerShell to make a task easier, but want to protect their individual scripts a little more.

    Hope this Helps,

    James Brundage [MSFT]

  • James Brundage posted a blog entry How To Write a Console Application in PowerShell with Add-Type which

  • What is a use case for this?

    Why would this help an admin to protect their scripts? I could do the same by writing the code in .cs file and running csc.exe.

    The assumption seems to be that admins WANT to write C# (or VB.NET for that matter). Is that what you are aiming for?

  • @Alexander

    Speeding up parts of a script would be a use for this, check the 'burn-console' and 'invoke-inline' scripts at:,month,2005-12.aspx

  • Performance benefits are one case, but in that case it would be better to compile C# and use it in PowerShell.

    Making a console application is a simplified example of the more interesting example, packing a script into any application this way.

    Your company (Sapien) makes a gui builder.  You could use this technique to pack what gets created with your gui builder so that the final customer is unaware of its scripted origins.

  • We are doing that, but I don't see how being able to compile C# from within PowerShell does anything for that. You can't compile PowerShell into an assembly. Or am I missing something?

  • I'm trying to use this with a C# snippet that parses an XML (I know I can do it directly Powershell, but I want to test this out). I'm using CTP3. The problem is that when I try to add-type the snippet it doesn't find the System.Xml namespace. I've tried "-UsingNamespace" with no luck. So, neither of the following works:

    Add-Type -TypeDefinition "using System.Xml;"

    Add-Type -TypeDefinition "using System.Xml;" -UsingNamespace "System.Xml"

    Obviously, the class that I'm using is bigger than that but it triggers the same problems. Why wouldn't this work?


  • @ alex:

    You can compile PowerShell into an assembly (that's why the parameter is -outputAssembly), as well as a console application, as well as a windows application

    @ stephen

    You don't have the Xml assembly referenced.

    I normally use this trick to reference types I've already got:

    Add-Type '


    ' -ReferencedAssemblies ([XML].Assembly)

    Each type has an assembly property, and it's easier to use a type you to get the assembly than it is to remember the full assembly names (at lesat for me)

    Hope this helps,

    James Brundage [MSFT]

  • hi,it seems my powershell doesn't support Add-Type cmdlet, when i run the scripts, the shell return some error info, which means can't recognize Add-Type as cmdlet.

    Can somebody tell me why this pheno happens?

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