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  • Blog Post: IP Development Best Practices: Declarative, Imperative or Both?

    When I first started working with Opalis (now Orchestrator) and the SDK, I was taught that you could create activities (and Integration Packs) using the declarative approach or the imperative approach. The way it was relayed, these were two mutually-exclusive paths toward the same end goal. As I work...
  • Blog Post: Orchestrator Quick Tip: What’s the Maximum Size of Parameters?

    I see this question on internal discussions list every now and then, so I thought I'd answer it here to be helpful. The question was: Is there a maximum length for string parameters in the Initialize Data activity? And if the answer is “yes” – what would the maximum length for string parameters be? Let...
  • Blog Post: Implementing Your Own Runbook Input Parameter Validation Checking

    Using the “Initialize Data” activity at the beginning of a runbook allows you to provide input parameters to any runbook. This greatly enhances the flexibility of a runbook by allowing it to be called by another runbook or via the web service, and the input parameters supplied to vary the data being...
  • Blog Post: Community Spotlight: Putting a “Send Popup” Activity Back in Orchestrator

    In the previous Opalis release, we shipped a standard activity called “Send Popup”, which used the Windows messaging system to create a popup on a user’s desktop. We removed that activity because the method we used was incompatible with Windows Server 2008 (it only worked on older platforms). However...
  • Blog Post: Community Spotlight: Configuration Manager 2007 IP on CodePlex

    One of our favorite community members, Ryan Andorfer, has updated his community IP for Configuration Manager 2007 to work with Orchestrator, and I thought I’d highlight this IP for everyone. You may know Ryan from his previous IP’s (available on CodePlex) for Active Directory, Exchange, VSphere, Scheduled...
  • Blog Post: Stepping through Custom Activity Code using the Debugger

    One of the first questions people have when they start writing custom Orchestrator activities using the SDK is “How do I step through my code?”. After all, activities are not executables, they’re just classes. And, it’s not until the classes are packaged with the Orchestrator Integration Pack Wizard...
  • Blog Post: Want to Use .NET 4.0 with Orchestrator Toolkit IPs? Here’s How!

    One of our most awesome test guys on the Orchestrator Team, Zhenhua Yao, who has delivered such goodies as the TFS IP and a PowerShell IP on our CodePlex site , has done it again! Anyone who has built an IP using the Orchestrator SDK knows that you need to set your project to .NET 3.5 or it won’t work...
  • Blog Post: Make Your PowerShell Script Activities Go “Splat”!

    There are always interesting shortcuts and magical techniques to discover in PowerShell, and “splatting” is one of them. Splatting allows you to bundle a set of parameters into a hashtable and then simply using it as single parameter to a PowerShell function or cmdlet. For example, instead of specifying...
  • Blog Post: OIT Quick Tip: Using PowerShell Switch Parameters in CLI Activities

    One of the common parameter types in PowerShell is the switch parameter. It’s basically a Boolean (true/false) type of parameter, and you either add it to the command line or not. Here’s an example: get-scoevents get-scoevents –formatXML The above command does the same thing in either case, it just formats...
  • Blog Post: Creating Single-Instance Runbooks without Queuing

    One of the cool things about Orchestrator is that it can automatically handle multiple-instance threading of runbooks or queue them up depending on your need. For instance, you may have a runbook that processes new users to be added to Active Directory, and for a large company, you might have several...
  • Blog Post: Adding an Options Menu Configuration to Custom Activities

    Yesterday, I wrote about how to debug a custom activity using Visual Studio . Today I’m going to show you how to add an item to the Options Menu so that you can have a reusable configuration setting that can be used across multiple activities in an IP. This is typically used for configuring connection...
  • Blog Post: Creating and Using Local Variables in a Runbook

    One of the features in Orchestrator is “Variables”. These are globally-available, statically-defined values (hence the running joke that they’re not actually “variables”, they’re “constants”). They provide a good way to define values that you re-use over and over throughout a number of activities and...
  • Blog Post: Finding Out “How Did I Get Here?” in a Runbook

    I recently saw a new feature suggestion in the Orchestrator feedback on Connect and I realized that we can actually accomplish the requested functionality today in Orchestrator, so I thought I’d share how. Here is the feedback from the customer: There are times when it would be very helpful to know which...
  • Blog Post: Community Spotlight: New Configuration Manager Extension to Invoke Orchestrator Runbooks via Right-Click Action

    I just saw this come through my email and I had to share it, and I admit I’m a little jealous and a little relieved at the same time. You see I have had the idea of writing an extension to Configuration Manager to launch Orchestrator runbooks via the right-click menu for some time now, and have never...
  • Blog Post: Dynamically Modifying Design-Time Properties of an Activity

    In the last post , I showed how to create a configuration for an activity that shows up in the options menu. I also showed how you can use that configuration setting to modify the actions of the activity at runtime. In this post, I’ll show you how to modify design-time actions by using the imperative...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Checking PowerShell Scripting Abilities on a Computer

    I do lots of PowerShell scripting, both inside runbooks and in stand-alone scripts. I have my own little virtual lab with a bunch of VMs and a domain controller that has a group policy assigned to enable the right PowerShell scripting settings on all the domain-joined computers, so I really don’t run...
  • Blog Post: Fun with PowerShell v3 “Robust Sessions” in Runbooks

    A couple of weeks ago, Karl Prosser posted an interesting article on using PowerShell v3 with Orchestrator .And, while at MMS last week, I had an opportunity to sit down and run through one of the PowerShell v3 hands-on labs that were available. In that lab, I found out about the new capabilities around...