Home > PowerShell, TeamCity, Visual Studio 2010 > Finding TODOs and Reporting in PowerShell

Finding TODOs and Reporting in PowerShell

December 28, 2011

After @andyedinborough shared a blog post on how to report TODOs in CruiseControl.NET, I figured there HAD to be a snazzy way to do this with TeamCity.

I already have TeamCity configured to dump out the results from our Machine.Specifications tests and PartCover code coverage (simple HTML and XML transforms) so another HTML file shouldn’t be difficult. When we’re done, we’ll have an HTML file, so we just need to setup a custom report to look for the file name. For more information on setting up custom reports in TeamCity, checkout this post (step 3 in particular).

Let’s Dig In!


The code! The current working version of the code is available via this gist.

The code is designed to be placed in a file of it’s own. Mine’s named Get-TODO.ps1

Note: If you want to include this in another file (such as your PowerShell profile), be sure to replace the param() into function Get-TODO( {all the params} ).

The the script parameters make a few assumptions based on my own coding standards; change as necessary:

  • My projects are named {SolutionName}.Web/.Specifications/.Core and are inside a directory called {SolutionName},
  • By default, it includes several file extensions: .spark, .cs, .coffee, .js, and .rb,
  • By default, it excludes several directories: fubu-content, packages, build, and release.

It also includes a couple of flags for Html output–we’ll get to that in a bit.

	#this is appalling; there has to be a better way to get the raw name of "this" directory. 
	[string]$DirectoryMask = 
	[array]$Include = 
	[array]$Exclude = 
	[string]$FileName = "todoList.html")

Fetching Our Files

We need to grab a collection of all of our solution files. This will include the file extensions from $Include and use the directories from $DirectoryMask (which the default is everything from the current location).

$originalFiles = 
	gci -Recurse -Include $Include -Path $DirectoryMask;

Unfortunately, the -Exclude flag is…well, unhappy, in PowerShell as it doesn’t seem to work with -Recurse (or if it does, there’s voodoo involved).

How do we address voodoo issues? Regular expressions. Smile Aww, yeah.

$withoutExcludes = $originalFiles | ? {
	if ($Exclude.count -gt 0) {
		#need moar regex
		[regex] $ex = 
			# 1: case insensitive and start of string
			# 2: join our array, using RegEx to escape special characters
			# the * allow wildcards so directory names filter out
			# and not just exact paths.
			# 3: end of string
			#  1                   2										3
			'(?i)^(.*'+(($Exclude|%{[regex]::escape($_)}) -join ".*|.*")+'.*)$'
		$_ -notmatch $ex
	else { 

Breath, it’s okay. That is mostly code comments to explain what each line is doing.  This snippet is dynamically creating a regular expression string based on our $Exclude parameter then comparing the current file in the iteration to the regular expression and returning the ones that do not match.  If $Exclude is empty, it simply returns all files.

Finding our TODOs

Select-String provides us with a quick way to find patterns inside of text files and provides us with helpful output such as the line of text, line number, and file name (select-string is somewhat like PowerShell’s grep command).

$todos = $withoutExcludes | 
	% { select-string $_ -pattern "TODO:" } |
	select-object LineNumber, FileName, Line;

Let’s take all of our remaining files, look at them as STRINGs and find the pattern "TODO:".  This returns an array of MatchInfo objects. Since these have a few ancillary properties we don’t want, let’s simply grab the LineNumber, FileName, and the Line (of the match) for our reporting.

Now that we have our list, let’s pretty it up a bit.  PowerShell’s select-object has the ability to reformat objects on the fly using expressions.  I could have combined this in the last command; however, it’s a bit clearer to fetch our results THEN format them.

$formattedOutput = $todos | select-object `
	@{Name='LineNumber'; Expression={$_.LineNumber}}, `
	@{Name='FileName'; Expression={$_.FileName}}, `
	@{Name='TODO'; Expression={$_.Line.Trim() -replace '// TODO: ',''}}
  1. LineNumber: We’re keeping this line the same.
  2. FileName: Again, input->output. Smile
  3. TODO: Here’s the big change. "Line" isn’t real descriptive, so let’s set Name=’TODO’ for this column. Second, let’s trim the whitespace off the line AND replace the string "// TODO: " with an empty string (remove it).  This cleans it up a bit.

Reporting It Out

At this point, we could simply return $formattedOutput | ft -a and have a handy table that looks like this:


Good for scripts, not so good for reporting and presenting to the boss/team (well, not my boss or team…). I added a -Html and -FileName flag to our parameters at the beginning just for this. I’ve pre-slugged the filename to todoList.html so I can set TeamCity to pickup the report automagically.  But how do we build the report?

PowerShell contains a fantastic built-in cmdlet called ConvertTo-Html that you can pipe pretty much any tabular content into and it turns it into a table.


if ($Html) {
	$head = @'
	body{	font-family:Segoe UI; background-color:white;} 
	table{	border-width: 1px;border-style: solid;
			border-color: black;border-collapse: collapse;width:100%;} 
	th{		font-family:Segoe Print;font-size:1.0em; border-width: 1px;
			padding: 2px;border-style: solid;border-color:black;
	td{		border-width: 1px;padding: 2px;border-style: solid;
			border-color: black;background-color:white;} 
	$solutionName = 

	$header = "<h1>"+$solutionName +" TODO List</h1><p>Generated on "+ [DateTime]::Now +".</p>"
	$title = $solutionName +" TODO List"
	$formattedOutput | 
              ConvertTo-HTML -head $head -body $header -title $title |
              Out-File $FileName
else {

Our html <head> tag needs some style. Simple CSS to address that problem.  I even added a few fonts in there for kicks and placed them in $head.

As I mentioned before, my solutions are usually the name of the project–which is what I want as the $title and $header. The $solutionName is ugly right now–if anyone out there has a BETTER way to get the STRING name of the current directory (not the Path), I’m all ears.

We take our $formattedOutput, $header, $title and pass them into ConvertTo-Html. It looks a bit strange that we’re setting our ‘body’ as the header; however, whatever is piped into the cmdlet appends to what is passed into body. It then parses our content out to the $FileName specified.


%d bloggers like this: