Script Tips

Actions Speak Louder

Keep abreast of what's happening using a function that logs and optionally displays script actions.

What the heck did that script do!? No matter; if you are being asked by a victim of your script or you're asking the question yourself, there is nothing handier than a script that can record what it's doing. I often use the same function to post status during script execution. Of course, sometimes you'll want to log something but not display the script's status. To handle this I pass not only what should be logged to the function, but also if it should be displayed so it can be handled case by case by the same function.

Following best practices, let's use a variable to identify the log file. That way, you can easily change it in the future or be able to vary the name if you're using the script elsewhere with another script:

sLogFile = "c:\temp\mylog.txt"

If later, you decide that you want the ability to force not to display anything regardless of how you called the function, here's a line that sets a global variable to override the setting:

ForceQuiet = False

Because the File System Object is something you will typically make use of in a script outside this simple function call, let's place the part that creates the object in the body of the script so that it's available to any functions in your script (as well as the one you're writing now):

Set oFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")

And now for the actual function:

Function LogAction (sMessage, IsVisible)
   Set oLogFile = oFSO.OpenTextFile(sLogFile, 8, True)
   oLogFile.WriteLine Date() & " " & Time() " | " & sMessage
   If IsVisible And Not ForceQuiet Then
      WScript.Echo sMessage
   End If
End Function

The function uses the File System Object to open a text file (and creates it if the file doesn't exist) and then writes in the date and time followed by the message that is passed by the script's actions. If IsVisible is true (also passed to the function) and if the ForceQuiet variable is not true, the message written to the log is also echoed to the screen. The function should be called like this:

LogAction "Starting Script", False
LogAction "Mapping Drives", True

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Just call this function whenever you perform an action in your script and if things should go wrong, you'll see just where the problem is!

Inventory Script Feedback
Bob, I read your inventory script column and I'm really fired up to use it. I copied what you had in the article; however, when I run it I get an error at the line that starts with "Set oReg = GetObject ". It stops at that line and says there is an invalid character on that line at 1. I guess this would be the "S," but why? I've tried both a capital and small S, and have tried the script without the Set. Nothing seems to work. What am I missing?
-- Brian

It may be the & in that line -- I use &_ to tell VBScript to continue the line of code on the next line. It's helpful for readability and if copied and pasted it should work, but getting stuff from HTML can result in odd issues from time to time. To ensure you get it the way I intended, you can use the one I posted here.
-- Bob

Thank you very much! Is there a way to pipe the results of the output to a text or .csv file either at the end of the scan of each registry key or at the end of scanning all of the keys?
-- Brian

A good suggestion. I’ve added a second version of the file that generates a text file. This should be enough to get you in the right direction.

About the Author

Bob Kelly is president and co-founder of, home to an integrated suite of scripting tools and a shared library of scripts and language help. He has authored books on scripting and desktop administration and several white papers. Bob also owns and operates, where he writes and produces videos on topics related to software deployment.

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