Tag Archives: Why Not?

Run _Anything_ with Flow. PowerShell Triggers

Want to start PowerShell commands from a Tweet? Yeah you do, and you didn’t even know you wanted to.

Earlier this month, a great Flow of the Week was posted that highlighted the ability to use a .net filesystemwatcher to kick off local processes. This sparked an idea – I think we can expand on this and basically run anything we want. Here’s how:

First, let’s start with the Connected Gateway. The link above goes into a bit of detail on how to configure the connection. Nothing special there.
Second, on the Connected Gateway, run this PowerShell script:

This script sets up a FileSystemWatcher on the C:\temp\WatchMe\Flow.txt file. The watcher will only perform an action if the file is changed. There are several options for the “Changed” parameter – Created, Deleted, Renamed, Error, etc… Once created, the watcher will look at the last line of the c:\temp\WatchMe\Flow.txt file, and launch a PowerShell process that takes that last line as the input.

Third – This is the best part. Since we have a FileSystemWatcher, and that watcher is reading the last line of the C:\temp\WatchMe\Flow.txt file and kicking that process off, all we have to do is append a line to that file to start a PowerShell session. Flow has a built-in connection for FileSystem. You can see where this is going. Create a new Flow, and add an input action – I am fond of the Outlook.com Email Arrives action. Supply a suitable trigger in the subject, and add the ‘Append File’ action from the FileSystem service. Here is how mine is configured:

The only catch with this particular setup is that the body of the email needs to be in plain text – Windows 10 Mail app, for example, will not send in plain text. The body of the mail is the PowerShell command we want to run. For example, maybe we want PowerShell to get a list of processes that have a certain name, and dump those to a text file for parsing later. Simply send an email that has the body of “get-process -name chrome|out-file c:\temp\ChromeProcesses.txt”. Here is what that results in:
Before we send the email:

The Email:

After a few minutes – an new folder appears!:

The contents of the text file:

Think about what you could do with this – Perhaps you want to do an Invoke-WebRequest every time a RSS Feed updates. Maybe start a set of diagnostic commands when an item is added to Sharepoint. Kick off actions with a Tweet. If you want full scripts to run instead of commands, change the Action section of the FileSystemWatcher to “PowerShell.exe -file $content”. Easy as pie.

‘Why Not?’ Series – PowerShell, IFTTT, and Smartthings

Ever wanted to turn your kitchen lights off from a command line?


In another addition of my ‘Why Not?’ series, I explore how to bring the power of IFTTT and SmartThings to PowerShell.

SmartThings is a home automation suite that consists of a central hub, z-wave or Zigbee switches, outlets, light bulbs, smoke detectors, water sensors, etc… Thousands of devices exist that integrate with the SmartThings system, and it has an accessible API. I swear, this is not a paid advertisement. It just happens to be the system I use in my home automation. One night I was sitting at home wondering why I had to use an app or even my Harmony remote to turn off the lights in my man-cave. I was working on a PowerShell script, and that’s when it hit me – ‘Why Not?’ – Why can’t I use PowerShell to turn those off these lights?

Let’s assume you have SmartThings setup in your home already, and that you have signed into the https://graph.api.smartthings.com/ portal at least once. If that is done – we simply need to head over to IFTTT. If you need a primer on IFTTT, head here: https://ifttt.com/wtf. Yeah, I am NOT going to change that link – it’s awesome. If you already have an IFTTT account, sign in. If not, sign up. Once signed in, we will want to add a new channel. The channel we want to add, ironically enough, is called SmartThings. Click on the “Channels” link, search for SmartThings, and click on the Icon (should be the only one returned if you search correctly). Click the Icon.

Now click on the GIANT connect button on the right hand side. It will take you to the SmartThings Api login page. Sign in, and you are greeted with this:
Pick the Hub/Location that you want to integrate with IFTTT. When you do, you are shown a list of devices connected to your SmartThings hub:
Select the devices you want to control, and press the “Authorize” button. You will be taken back to IFTTT. Don’t try to add any recipes yet – we need one more channel to make this work. In order to get IFTTT to trigger, we can use either the DO channel/app (which I am going to ignore in this demo), or we can use the Maker channel. Search for, and add the Maker channel just like we did for the SmartThings channel.
When you add the Maker Channel, a key is automatically generated for you. Keep this key handy – we will be using it soon. I am not showing you my key, cause I barely know you guys – and it is unique to my recipes.

Great – now what? Let’s add a recipe!! Click the “Create a New Recipe button”, and you are shown the typical IFTTT recipe builder page that looks like:
Click on the “this” portion, and search for/select the Maker channel:
Pick the “Receive Web Request” tile. We now need to name our trigger. These will be unique to each device, and unique to the function we are calling. For example, if I want to turn on and off my Man-Cave Lights, I need to specify two unique triggers. Leave out spaces in this name.
Create the trigger. BOOM – we are back the equation:
Click the ‘THAT’ section. We are dropped back to the channel search page – this time it’s the search for the Action channel – type in and select ‘SmartThings’. You should see a list of all the fun things that SmartThings brings to IFTTT.
Choose the ‘Switch On’ tile. You can now pick the switch you want to interact with. In my example I will choose ‘Man Cave Lights’
One final step – click “Create Recipe”. Done! Now, create another new recipe, following the same steps, except name the Maker trigger something like ‘Man_Cave_Lights_Off’, and make sure you select the ‘Switch Off’ tile in the action section. You should now have 2 recipes – one for turning the lights on, another for turning the lights off. If you check the My Recipes section, you should have something along the lines of these two:

We are done in IFTTT for the moment – let’s head over to PowerShell.

This is pretty straight-forward, actually. We need to craft a URL with this format: https://maker.ifttt.com/trigger/{event}/with/key/{key}. The {event} is the Maker event we specified when we created the recipe – they {key} is the unique key that was generated when we added the Maker channel. All we need to do is craft the URL and send the web-request.

Again, we use the -UseBasicParsing parameter to keep from firing up IE initial config. If we have done everything right, we should be greeted with something along the lines of:
Congratulations! You’ve fired the Man_Cave_Lights_On event

Want proof? Here you go!


Once you add the Maker Channel, it opens a world of possibility up when it comes to IFTTT. For example, I later added my Harmony remote as a channel and was able to turn my AV system on and off and perform a large number of automations from PowerShell. Oh, the trouble we will get into….

‘Why Not?’ Series – PowerShell and Steam – An Exercise in Invoke-WebRequest

During my day job I tend to get into situations where I have to make PowerShell connect to systems and applications that are atypical. A lot times, the easiest way to integrate PowerShell and these systems is the humble invoke-webrequest. It’s not a big stretch to bring that home to the ‘fun’ projects. In that vein – let’s make PowerShell talk to Steam – because ‘Why Not?’.

Steam has a pretty well documented web api, and as such, this is a pretty easy integration to get get going. I will mostly be using invoke-webrequest, since the API we are dealing is the Steam Web API. The API is mainly documented here. Another GREAT resource is this site. I won’t dig into the client side API in this post – that post is coming soon.

Let’s start by doing something simple. Let’s get a list of the api interfaces. A simple invoke-webrequest can get the data. By default, the Steam Web Api will return data in a json format, but for our demonstration I am going to get it in an XML format.

I am using the ‘-UseBasicParsing’ switch in order to not have to initialize the IE engine and avoid performing IE initial setup. You will notice that I use the [xml] prefix to tell PowerShell to expect an XML return, and in the url I specify the xml format. Other valid formats to use in the url include json (default if nothing is specified), and vdf. If we examine the $interfaces variable, we can eventually dig down to this:

Lots of interfaces here, but one immediately catches the eye – ISteamApps. How do we access that one? Well, we would need to look at the methods associated with that interface.

There we go – looks like 2 GetAppList methods, and 2 others. If we were to dig a bit deeper, we would see that the GetAppList methods are version 1 and version 2. Let’s use version 2 for this example. Now that we know the Interface (ISteamApps) and the method (GetAppList), we can craft the web request as documented in the Steam Web Api.

This is a very similar request to the first one we used to get the interfaces, only we are now supplying the interface and the method. Notice the v0002 portion – it’s the version. Again we told the request to use the XML format.

<and many many many more>

Wow – we just pulled back a list of every game published to Steam. I am not sure what the status has to be (Alpha, Beta, Pre-Order, etc..), but you can see the list is very extensive – almost 29000 games when I wrote this post. We stored this data in the $app variable so we only have to pull it once (really don’t want to tick off Gabe by pulling this multiple times).

Now that we have this, what good is it? Well, for a good portion of the Web Api’s, we will need to know an AppID. If we wanted to get the AppID for a specific game, we can do something like this:

There we go – Kerbal Space Program (KSP) has AppID of 220200 for the main (non-demo) game. Great! Why don’t get see if we can get the latest news on KSP? Remember our $interfaces variable? One of the interfaces was ISteamNews. Looking at the methods on ISteamNews we find this:

Look familiar? As you can guess, there is a v0001 and v0002 version of the same method. Crafting the URL is pretty easy at this point, except when we try like we did previously, we get this:

Apparently there is a parameter that is missing. How do we find that? Well, we have to dig in a bit:

There we go – a list of the parameters that the interface expects. The only mandatory one (optional = false) is the appid. Let’s try our web request again, but supply the appid this time:

Notice how we have the interface set(ISteamNews) and the method (GetNewsForApp), and the version (v0002), as well as supplied the appid (220200). That leaves us with something like this:

<And much much more>

Great – what do we actually have? If we go a gettype() on $kspnews.appnews.newsitems.newsitem we find it’s an array. That makes it fairly simple to manipulate via the pipeline:

It’s a small leap to pull back the details for a particular news article. For example, if we wanted to see the details on the 1.1.2 patch, we can do this:

Pretty nifty – you can manipulate the content from there as normal html.

Getting the news is one thing, but what if you wanted to get a bit more data – something a little more exciting like the number of players actually _playing_ the game at the moment. Again – a simple invoke-webrequest can pull that – this time using the ISteamUserStats interface:

There you go! We just pulled back the live player count for a steam game using PowerShell! This invoke is slightly different than the previous ones – here we are pulling the data in a json format, piping that to a ConvertFrom-Json cmdlet, and only selecting the response property. From that we pull the player_count.

One more example using invoke-webrequest – lets pull the Achievement percentage for a particular game. In this case, we can’t use KSP because that particular game doesn’t track achievements. Instead, we will use Team Fortress 2 (appid 440). Note that this interface/method uses the parameter gameid, not appid. Don’t ask why, because I have no idea.

There are plenty of interfaces and interfaces you can pull – GetGlobalStatsForGame, UpToDateCheck (check to see if an app version is up to date), GetServerInfo (check Web API server status), GetWorldStatus (Specific for TF2), etc… Using the appropriate UserID, and the Steam Web API Key, you can even use ISteamUser to get Friends lists, get player profile information, find players achievements for a particular game, and more! Steam has done a great job supplying this API, and with PowerShell, you can access this data with little more than a simple invoke-webrequest.