Experimental Features

The Experimental Features support in PowerShell provides a mechanism for experimental features to coexist with existing stable features in PowerShell or PowerShell modules.

An experimental feature is one where the design is not finalized. The feature is available for users to test and provide feedback. Once an experimental feature is finalized, the design changes become breaking changes. Experimental features aren't intended to be used in production since the changes are allowed to be breaking.

Experimental features are disabled by default and need to be explicitly enabled by the user or administrator of the system.

Enabled experimental features are listed in the powershell.config.json file in $PSHOME for all users or the user-specific configuration file for a specific user.

Note

Experimental features enabled in the user configuration file take precedence over experimental features listed in the system configuration file.

The Experimental Attribute

Use the Experimental attribute to declare some code as experimental.

Use the following synxtax to declare the Experimental attribute providing the name of the experimental feature and the action to take if the experimental feature is enabled:

[Experimental(NameOfExperimentalFeature, ExperimentAction)]

The ExperimentAction parameter must be specified and the only valid values are:

  • Show means to show this experimental feature if the feature is enabled
  • Hide means to hide this experimental feature if the feature is enabled

Declaring Experimental Features in Modules Written in C#

Module authors who want to use the Experimental Feature flags can declare a cmdlet as experimental by using the Experimental attribute:

[Experimental("PSWebCmdletV2", ExperimentAction.Show)]
[Cmdlet(Verbs.Invoke, "WebRequest")]
public class InvokeWebRequestCommandV2 : WebCmdletBaseV2 { ... }

Declaring Experimental Features in Modules written in PowerShell

Module written in PowerShell can also use the Experimental attribute to declare experimental cmdlets:

function Enable-SSHRemoting {
    [Experimental("PSSSHRemoting", "Show")]
    [CmdletBinding()]
    param()
    ...
}

Mutually Exclusive Experimental Features

There are cases where an experimental feature cannot co-exist side-by-side with an existing feature or another experimental feature.

For example, you can have an experimental cmdlet that overrides an existing cmdlet. The two versions can't coexist side by side. The ExperimentAction.Hide setting allows only one of the two cmdlets to be enabled at one time.

In this example, we create a new experimental Invoke-WebRequest cmdlet. InvokeWebRequestCommand contains the non-experimental implementation. InvokeWebRequestCommandV2 contains the experimental version of the cmdlet.

The use of ExperimentAction.Hide will allow only one of the two features to be enabled at one time:

[Experimental("PSWebCmdletV2", ExperimentAction.Show)]
[Cmdlet(Verbs.Invoke, "WebRequest")]
public class InvokeWebRequestCommandV2 : WebCmdletBaseV2 { ... }

[Experimental("PSWebCmdletV2", ExperimentAction.Hide)]
[Cmdlet(Verbs.Invoke, "WebRequest")]
public class InvokeWebRequestCommand : WebCmdletBase { ... }

When the PSWebCmdletV2 experimental feature is enabled, the existing InvokeWebRequestCommand implementation is hidden and the InvokeWebRequestCommandV2 provides the implementation of Invoke-WebRequest.

This allows users to try out the new cmdlet and provide feedback then revert to the non-experimental version when needed.

Experimental Parameters in Cmdlets

The Experimental attribute can also be applied to individual parameters. This allows you to create an experimental set of parameters for an existing cmdlet rather than an entirely new cmdlet.

Here is an example in C#:

[Experimental("PSNewAddTypeCompilation", ExperimentAction.Show)]
[Parameter(ParameterSet = "NewCompilation")]
public CompilationParameters CompileParameters { ... }

[Experimental("PSNewAddTypeCompilation", ExperimentAction.Hide)]
[Parameter()]
public CodeDom CodeDom { ... }

Here is a different example in PowerShell script:

param(
    [Experimental("PSNewFeature", "Show")]
    [string] $NewName,

    [Experimental("PSNewFeature", "Hide")]
    [string] $OldName
)

Checking if an Experimental Feature is Enabled

In your code, you will need to check if your experimental feature is enabled before taking appropriate action. You can determine if an experimental feature is enabled using the static IsEnabled() method on the System.Management.Automation.ExperimentalFeature class.

Here is an example in C#:

if (ExperimentalFeature.IsEnabled("MyExperimentalFeature"))
{
   // code specific to the experimental feature
}

Here is an example in PowerShell script:

if ([ExperimentalFeature]::IsEnabled("MyExperimentalFeature"))
{
  # code specific to the experimental feature
}

See also

Enable-ExperimentalFeature

Disable-ExperimentalFeature

Get-ExperimentalFeature