Fixing Powershell’s Busted Resolve-Path Cmdlet

Usually, my PowerShell posts are effusive in their praise. However, who thought up this “feature” gets no praise from me:

PS»Resolve-Path ~missing.file
Resolve-Path : Cannot find path 'C:Usershpiersonmissing.file' because it does not exist.

In my opinion, this is a bad design. Resolve-Path assumes that if the filename being resolved doesn’t exist, then it must be an error. But in the script I’m building, I’m resolving the path of a file that I’m going to create. In other words, I know a priori that the file doesn’t exist. Yet Resolve-Path insists on throwing an error. I would have expected there to be some switch you could pass to Resolve-Path telling it to skip path validation, but there’s not.

And the worst thing is, I can see that Resolve-Path came up with the “right” answer – it’s right there in the error message!

Searching around, I found a thread where someone else was having the same problem. Jeffrey Snover – aka Distinguished Engineer, inventor of Powershell and target of Erik Meijer’s Lang.NET coin throwing stunt – suggested using –ErrorAction and –ErrorVariable to ignore the error and retrieve the resolved path from the TargetObject property error variable. Like Maximilian from the thread, using this approach feels fragile and frankly kinda messy, but I needed a solution. So I wrote the following function that wraps up access to the error variable so at least I don’t have fragile messy code sprinkled through out my script.

function force-resolve-path($filename)
  $filename = Resolve-Path $filename -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
                                     -ErrorVariable _frperror
  if (!$filename)
    return $_frperror[0].TargetObject
  return $filename

The script is pretty straightforward. –ErrorAction SilentlyContinue is PowerShell’s version of On Error Resume Next in Visual Basic. If the cmdlet encounters an error, it gets stashed away in the variable specified by ErrorVariable (it’s also added to $Error so you can still retrieve the error object if ErrorVariable isn’t specified) and continues processing. Then I manually check to see if resolve-path succeeded – i.e. did it return a value – and return the TargetObject of the Error object if it didn’t.

As I said, fragile and kinda messy. But it works.


I'm presuming two things here: 1) you want to test the path to the folder containing the file 2) you want to test if the file already exists before attempting the creation Why not use a couple of calls to test-path