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  • Blog Post: Orchestrator Quick Tip: Setting Environment Variables in CLI Activities

    Using the Orchestrator Integration Toolkit’s Command-Line Activity Wizard, you can create your own custom activities really easily just by using a simple command line or one-line PowerShell script. When creating activities, you can specify parameters that appear on the activity’s properties tab. When...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Using Encrypted Variables in Orchestrator

    Orchestrator 2012 introduced the capability to define a global Variable as encrypted. This now allowed admins to use variables to store passwords instead of typing them into lots of different places in runbooks. But if the variable is encrypted, how does it then un-encrypt the value to be used within...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Understanding Multi-Value Data and the Databus

    I saw a question in the forums around multi-value data and how someone could pass multi-value data in to a runbook via the Initialize Data activity. I was going to answer the question there but thought it would be better to post an article to reach a broader audience. When dealing with published data...
  • Blog Post: Orchestrator Quick Tip: “Null” value conditions

    There are times when you want to validate that the value of a property isn’t blank. For example, you could be checking the output value (published data) of an activity to make sure it’s not blank before proceeding. However, in the list of available comparisons, there isn’t a selection for “Is Null” or...
  • Blog Post: Cool Tool: New Command Line Utility to Start a Runbook

    I was talking with one of the other Program Managers on the team the other day about how he wanted to be able to launch a runbook as part of a remediation task in Operations Manager, and how it would be great if he has some command-line utility that would enable him to do that quickly via a simple command...
  • Blog Post: Psst! Here’s a Secret Way to Customize the Runbook Tester Window!

    If you’re like me, you use the Runbook Tester a lot. And, if you’re like me, you get annoyed by always having to resize the window to maximize one area or another. For me, I use the logging section more than anything, so I want to maximize the size of that part of the window. I also want the Runbook...
  • Blog Post: Understanding IP Installation: What Does Register/Unregister/Deploy/Undeploy Really Mean?

    One of the most foundational activities an Orchestrator admin does is installing Integration Packs. After all, Integration Packs provide the real value to Orchestrator because they allow you to extend its capabilities and let you connect to virtually anything so you can automate and orchestrator across...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Using the “Read Text Log” Activity

    I had someone contact me recently with some confusion about the Read Text Log activity in Orchestrator. It seems that it wasn’t quite working the way they expected and they were left scratching their head. So I put together a quick demo runbook and tested it out. I thought I’d share my experience just...
  • Blog Post: Cool Tool: Visualizing the Orchestrator Web Service

    One of our friends over on the Office365 team who does a lot of stuff with Orchestrator and PowerShell (and I mean deep stuff), Tim Bertalot, pointed out a cool Visual Studio add-on that lets you visualize the schema of a web service. The tool is called the Open Data Protocol Visualizer and is available...
  • Blog Post: Speeding up Runbooks by Improving Activity Loading Speed

    Even on the product team, there is a lot of information we don’t see that gets published about the product. Other arms of Microsoft like Customer Support are continually listening to customers and feed bugs and change requests to the product team, but they also publish KB articles and helpful tips about...
  • Blog Post: Using Windows Task Scheduler to Invoke Scheduled Runbooks

    This article is a follow-on to my previous post, Cool Tool: New Command Line Utility to Start a Runbook , where I talked about using the web service to quickly start a runbook with named parameters. Now it’s time to put that into action! Orchestrator administrators know that Orchestrator is not built...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: New Implicit ForEach in PSv3

    I saw this today in an email from PowerShell.com and had to pass it on… seems like PSv3 is going to have lots of little handy additions: Implicit Foreach in PSv3 PowerShell v3 Beta is available for quite some time now, so every now and then we start tossing in some PowerShell v3 tips. We'll clearly mark...
  • Blog Post: Best Practices: Which is Better… Monitoring or Triggering?

    One of the major pieces of functionality in Orchestrator and in many of the Integration Packs the ability to monitor something (a database, a server) and start a runbook when a certain condition occurs. The monitor activities are used extensively by customers in a wide array of scenarios. But is it the...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Enabling Link Text But Getting Rid of “Link”

    If you're like me, you like to put descriptive text in a link to describe what it does. Perhaps it's to indicate the conditions of a branching structure, like this: But what’s annoying is that when you turn on the Link text, every link has the word “Link” on it (as if you didn’t know it was a link)....
  • Blog Post: Understanding Sequential vs. Parallel Processing of Runbook Activities

    I saw a question in the forums the other day by a person who asked how you should expect activities in a workflow to be executed when one of the activities generates multi-value data. In other words, one of my activities returns a list of things. How do the next activities react? Will they run in parallel...
  • Blog Post: IPs and Activities and How Those are Represented in the Database

    Following some of my recent articles about how Integration Packs (IPs) are handled during registration, installation, and unregistration (see Understanding IP Installation: What Does Register/Unregister/Deploy/Undeploy Really Mean? ), and as a precursor to a new tool I will be unveiling this week (trying...
  • 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: Quick Tip: Error Handling Across Parent/Child Runbooks

    I got a question posed to me in the form of a design change request for Orchestrator. And, true to fashion for Orchestrator, I pointed out that what was being asked for as a feature could be solved by the existing product by just architecting the runbook in a certain way. The scenario posed was this...