PowerShell Cookbook vs PowerShell in Action

The ACoupleOfAdmins blog recently posted a book review of the PowerShell Cookbook (and were kind enough to also write an Amazon Review.) They bring up some excellent points. Mainly,

The Windows PowerShell Cookbook will stay on my shelf as a reference book (for the code samples), but I would look to other resources first (e.g. Windows PowerShell In Action by Bruce Payette), if you need a resource to help learn PowerShell.

I thought long and hard about the depth and breadth of the book. One theme they're picking up on is that the PowerShell Cookbook is not a language focused book, and does not go into gritty detail about each language feature. This is intentional, as I wanted the book to have a very clear and unique value. We already have one PowerShell in Action, so there's really not a need for another.

One thing that's missed by the review is the implicit False Dichotomy -- that you should only have one book on PowerShell. The PowerShell Cookbook is intended to be a reference book (for its code samples and pre-packaged solutions,) while PowerShell in Action is intended to be a guided PowerShell tutorial. There is very little overlap between Bruce's book and the PowerShell Cookbook, and both provide significant value.

Since both Bruce and I wrote books with the intention to benefit the PowerShell community, it would not be in the best interest of anybody to have competing books!

5 Responses to “PowerShell Cookbook vs PowerShell in Action”

  1. Steven Murawski writes:


    Thank you for taking the time to address my review. I absolutely love the power, range, and versatility of PowerShell and really
    have enjoyed the O’Reilly Cookbook series. I’m not very eloquent and perhaps I came across incorrectly, but the point I was heading
    for was that I would use PowerShell In Action to learn PowerShell and the Windows PowerShell Cookbook for the excellent example
    scripts, not as only owning one or the other.

    The other point I tried to make was that I missed the level of content I previously enjoyed in other Cookbooks in the Discussion
    part of the solution. It could be unfair of me to expect that level of content in all topics, but I’m human and am prone to having
    high expectations.

    What did not fail to meet my expectations was the script solutions. Thank you for some masterful examples on using PowerShell to
    accomplish various tasks. My favorite is how to invoke a PowerShell expression on a remote PC. I have had trouble getting a
    PowerShell session started using PSExec (it would hang), but your solution seems to cover that problem.

  2. Greg Milner writes:

    Lee, I whole-heartedly agree. I own both Powershell in Action and The Powershell Cookbook and they are two different animals. It’s apples and oranges. These two books don’t compete but rather complement each other.

    Furthermore, having looked over most of the books out there on Powershell, I can say if you can only have (or can only afford) two powershell books, the should be Powershell in Action and The Powershell Cookbook; one for learning, the other for reinforcement and reference.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for an excellent book.

    Greg Milner
    Portland, Oregon

  3. Fredrik Lindberg writes:

    I too agree!

    I just bought the Powershell Cookbook and havent put it down since I got it! It is surely to be a classic!
    Hopefully you will write more books!

    I agree with Steven about the script solutions. They really illustrate the spirit of Powershell and how to
    think "Powershell".



  4. Chrissy LeMaire writes:

    Hey Lee 🙂
    I have three PowerShell books — the two you mentioned and Wrox’s Professional PowerShell by Andrew Watt. All three definitely have a distinct purpose. Professional PowerShell is a great way to learn the "how" quickly, Bruce’s book provides the "why" and your book is a useful repository of code samples needed once the PowerShell projects actually begin. I recommend all three to those who ask.

    I’m glad that O’reilly updated the name, btw.

    Hope you and your family are doing well. I spoke to my parents about you and poutine just yesterday. We were considering a trip to Seattle after my torso brace comes off. I finally had shoulder surgery – my partial robot body is a trip but I’m feeling tons better.


  5. Joel McBeth writes:

    Thanks for this. I was surprised when I actually found results for “Powershell cookbook vs powershell in action.” But this has convinced me to start out with PowerShell in Action. I like Manning as a publisher and the books I have from them are great but PowerShell Cookbook has a 3rd edition that covers PowerShell 3, so it was a tough decision.

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