PowerShell 2.0 CTP3: Modules, in Practice – .NET Interfaces

This is a bit of a hardcore example of the power that modules have brought to the table in v2.0. First, a little background - PowerShell’s type adaptation system has always ignored the concept of interfaces. Frankly, it never really needed to pay them any attention. The adapted view of any instance of a .NET class is just an aggregate of all its methods; the most derived instance is the default, and only, view. This is the most simple and most frequently used view. However, this all goes to hell when you bring in the notion of explicit interfaces.

Explicit Interface Definitions

Here’s an example of a C# class, Test, with two interfaces: IFace, and IFaceEx. I’ve put this whole example in PowerShell script so you can easily test it without firing up Visual Studio. Add-Type cmdlet to the rescue!

if (-not ("Test" -as [type])) {    
    add-type @"
        public interface IFace {
            string Hello(string name);
            string Goodbye();
        public interface IFaceEx {
            string Hello(string name);
            string Goodbye();
            string Prop1 {
        public class Test : IFace, IFaceEx {
            public string Hello(string name) {
                return "Hello" + name + " from IFace";
            public string Goodbye() {
                return "Goodbye from IFace";
            string IFaceEx.Hello(string name) {
                return "Hello " + name + " from IFaceEx";
            string IFaceEx.Goodbye() {
                return "Goodbye from IFaceEx";
            private string _prop1 = "Foo";
            string IFaceEx.Prop1 {
                get { return _prop1; }
                set { _prop1 = value; }

If you new up an instance of Test, you’ll see that the explicit interface definitions are hidden. Any calls to Hello(string) will invoke the IFace implementation.

There is no way to call IFaceEx.Hello without using reflection!

So, this is where the beauty of modules can help us. The following function will take an instance of a .NET class, and the interface you want a  reference to, and will return a PSCustomObject with ScriptMethods and ScriptProperties bound to that interface’s contract. You don’t have to do this only with explicit interfaces, any interfaces will work ;-)

Introducing Get-Interface

A script is worth a thousand words.

function Get-Interface {

#   Allows PowerShell to call specific interface implementations on any .NET object. 
#   Allows PowerShell to call specific interface implementations on any .NET object. 
#   As of v2.0, PowerShell cannot cast .NET instances to a particular interface. This makes it
#   impossible (shy of reflection) to call methods on explicitly implemented interfaces.   
#.Parameter Object
#   An instance of a .NET class from which you want to get a reference to a particular interface it defines.
#.Parameter InterfaceType
#   An interface type, e.g. [idisposable], implemented by the target object.
#   // a class with explicitly implemented interface   
#   public class MyObj : IDisposable {
#      void IDisposable.Dispose()
#   }
#   ps> $o = new-object MyObj
#   ps> $i = get-interface $o ([idisposable])
#   ps> $i.Dispose()      
#   A PSCustomObject with ScriptMethods and ScriptProperties representing methods and properties on the target interface.
#   AUTHOR:    Oisin Grehan http://www.nivot.org/
#   LASTEDIT:  2009-03-25 11:35:23

        [ValidateScript( { $_.IsInterface } )]

    $private:t  = $Object.GetType()
    try {
        $private:m  = $t.GetInterfaceMap($InterfaceType)

    } catch [argumentexception] {
        throw "Interface $($InterfaceType.Name) not found on ${t}!"

    $private:im = $m.InterfaceMethods
    $private:tm = $m.TargetMethods
    # TODO: use param blocks in functions instead of $args
    #       so method signatures are visible via get-member
    $body = [scriptblock]::Create(@"
        param(`$o, `$i)    
        `$script:t  = `$o.GetType()
        `$script:m  = `$t.GetInterfaceMap(`$i)
        `$script:im = `$m.InterfaceMethods
        `$script:tm = `$m.TargetMethods
        # interface methods $($im.count)
        # target methods $($tm.count)
            for ($ix = 0; $ix -lt $im.Count; $ix++) {
                $mb = $im[$ix]
                function $($mb.Name) {
                    `$tm[$ix].Invoke(`$o, `$args)

                $(if (!$mb.IsSpecialName) {
                    Export-ModuleMember $($mb.Name)

    write-verbose $body.tostring()    
    # create dynamic module
    $module = new-module -ScriptBlock $body -Args $Object, $InterfaceType -Verbose
    # generate method proxies - all exported members become scriptmethods
    # however, we are careful not to export getters and setters.
    $custom = $module.AsCustomObject()
    # add property proxies - need to use scriptproperties here.
    # modules cannot expose true properties, only variables and 
    # we cannot intercept variables get/set.
    $InterfaceType.GetProperties() | % {

        $propName = $_.Name
        $getter   = $null
        $setter   = $null
        if ($_.CanRead) {
            # where is the getter methodinfo on the interface map?
            $ix = [array]::indexof($im, $_.GetGetMethod())
            # bind the getter scriptblock to our module's scope
            # and generate script to call target method
            $getter = $module.NewBoundScriptBlock(
                [scriptblock]::create("`$tm[{0}].Invoke(`$o, @())" -f $ix))
        if ($_.CanWrite) {
            # where is the setter methodinfo on the interface map?
            $ix = [array]::indexof($im, $_.GetSetMethod())
            # bind the setter scriptblock to our module's scope
            # and generate script to call target method
            $setter = $module.NewBoundScriptBlock(
                    "param(`$value); `$tm[{0}].Invoke(`$o, `$value)" -f $ix))
        # add our property to the pscustomobject
        $prop = new-object management.automation.psscriptproperty $propName, $getter, $setter
    # insert the interface name at the head of the typename chain (for get-member info)
    $custom.psobject.TypeNames.Insert(0, $InterfaceType.FullName)
    # dump our pscustomobject to pipeline
Here's how to use it, with our example Test class as added earlier:
$if = Get-Interface (new-object test) ([ifaceex]) -verbose
$if.Hello("Oisin") # returns Hello Oisin from IFaceEx

$if.Prop1 = "Test" # property setter
$if.Prop1 # propery getter

Have fun!

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About the author

Irish, PowerShell MVP, .NET/ASP.NET/SharePoint Developer, Budding Architect. Developer. Montrealer. Opinionated. Montreal, Quebec.

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