Dynamic parameters, ValidateSet and Enums

Good intentions often get muddled with very complex execution. The last time the government tried to make taxes easier, it created a 1040 EZ form with a 52-page help booklet.
— Brad D. Smith

I suppose that many of you have heard about Dynamic Parameters, but thought of them as too complicated to implement in real-life scenarios. Just look at the amount of code you have to write to add one simple parameter with dynamic ValidateSet argument.

Recently I had to write a fair amount of functions which use Enum‘s values as parameters (Special Folders, Access Rights, etc). Naturally, I’d like to have this parameters validated with ValidateSet and have tab-completion as a bonus. But this means to hardcode every enum’s member name in the ValidateSet argument. Today’s example is a function, that returns Special Folder path. It accepts one parameter Name, validates it values against all known folders names and returns filesystem paths. Here is how it looks with hardcoded ValidateSet:

function Get-SpecialFolderPath
        [Parameter(Mandatory = $true, ValueFromPipeline = $true, ValueFromPipelineByPropertyName = $true, Position = 0)]
            'Desktop', 'Programs', 'MyDocuments', 'Personal', 'Favorites', 'Startup', 'Recent', 'SendTo',
            'StartMenu', 'MyMusic', 'MyVideos', 'DesktopDirectory', 'MyComputer', 'NetworkShortcuts', 'Fonts',
            'Templates', 'CommonStartMenu', 'CommonPrograms', 'CommonStartup', 'CommonDesktopDirectory',
            'ApplicationData', 'PrinterShortcuts', 'LocalApplicationData', 'InternetCache', 'Cookies', 'History',
            'CommonApplicationData', 'Windows', 'System', 'ProgramFiles', 'MyPictures', 'UserProfile', 'SystemX86',
            'ProgramFilesX86', 'CommonProgramFiles', 'CommonProgramFilesX86', 'CommonTemplates', 'CommonDocuments',
            'CommonAdminTools', 'AdminTools', 'CommonMusic', 'CommonPictures', 'CommonVideos', 'Resources',
            'LocalizedResources', 'CommonOemLinks', 'CDBurning'

        $Name | ForEach-Object { [Environment]::GetFolderPath($_) }

Not fancy, to say the least.

Sidenote: if you wonder, did I typed all this ValidateSet argument, the answer is no. Here is trick that I’ve used to get all enum’s members strings enclosed in single quotes and comma-separated. Just copy and paste this snippet to the PowerShell console and get formatted enum list in your clipboard:

PS C:\Users\beatcracker> "'$([Enum]::GetNames('System.Environment+SpecialFolder') -join "', '")'" | clip

As you see, the ValidateSet above is as bad as you can get: it’s large, it’s easy to make typo and it’s hardcoded. Whenever the new special folder is added to the Windows or it doesn’t exists in previous versions of OS this code will fail.

Continue reading