Name collisions, PSBase and other mad PowerShell internals

Sometimes, we can discover name collisions in PowerShell

Consider example

$xml1 = [xml] "<tag />"
$xml2 = [xml] "<tag name='attributeValue' />"

When we call


we get tag

but when we call


we get attributeValue

That’s happened because of the name collision XmlNode.Name property vs automatic NoteProperty name constructed from the attributes

So the question is how to get tag name from $xml2 as well. It took me about 15 minutes to find the answer when similar issue occurred in one of our deployment scripts.

I don’t want to just show the answer, I want to discuss the way I discovered it. BTW, I could not find anything useful in Google or StackOverflow. You’re more than welcome to point me if you can find anything else instead of this blogpost 🙂

So let’s start from

$xml2.tag | Get-Member -Force

It has many hidden members that’s visible only because of the -Force parameter

We can see that we have method called get_Name, and as we can easily guess, all the properties always come with get_Property and set_Property methods

So if we call


we will get expected result tag

Besides that, when I was looking into output of Get-Member -Force I found some interesting properties like PSBase, according to Get-Member documentation:

— PSBase: The original properties of the .NET Framework object without extension or adaptation. These are the properties defined for the object class and listed in MSDN.

So alternative solution will be


Let’s consider more complex synthetic case

$xml3 = [xml] "<tag psbase='attributeValue' />"

How can we retrieve value for psbase attribute?

Naive approach


won’t work, because of the another collision, PSBase is a special property.

Well, we can use attribute approach

For PowerShell 3 we can use


works as expected

But this won’t work in PowerShell 2

[ : Unable to index into an object of type System.Xml.XmlAttributeCollection.
At line:1 char:22
+ $xml3.tag.Attributes[ <<<< "psbase"].Value
    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (psbase:String) [], RuntimeException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : CannotIndex

and we will do this in more complex way

($xml3.tag.Attributes | Where-Object { $_.Name -eq "psbase" }).Value

Or we can have some tricky code which doesn’t require to know that we deal with XmlNode.

In order to test that I tried different approaches

I tried

New-Object PSObject -Property @{ psbase = "abc" }

but this fails with

New-Object : The member name "psbase" is reserved.
At line:1 char:11
+ New-Object <<<<  PSObject -Property @{ psbase = "abc" }
    + CategoryInfo          : NotSpecified: (:) [New-Object], ExtendedTypeSystemException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : PSObjectMembersMembersAddReservedName,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.NewObjectCommand

Then I ended up with another synthetic example

Add-Type -TypeDefinition "public class MyTest { public string psbase = `"abc`"; }"
$x = New-Object MyTest

$x.psbase does not return what we want to get (abc)

Note, that I used public field instead of property. Otherwise we could use get_psbase approach

That’s tricky one.

And the solution I found is

($x.PSObject.Members | Where-Object { $_.Name -eq "psbase" }).Value

returns abc as expected

Similarly, for XmlNode this also works.

($xml3.tag.PSObject.Members | Where-Object { $_.Name -eq "psbase" }).Value

Another approach for $x is to use reflection


We could use reflection because it is a fair property of the object.

I could not invent the example which would have only NoteProperty named psbase.
For this case reflection won’t work and only approach with PSObject.Members will work there.

I know this all is weird, but if you understand that, you will have better understanding of some PowerShell hidden traps.

Please send me more weird things if you know any…

Stay tuned

About mnaoumov

Senior .NET Developer in Readify
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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