ConfigMgr Build 1710 –Run Task Sequence (Preview Feature)

In ConfigMgr Build 1710, the Run Task Sequence step feature has entered pre-release.

Pre-release as a ‘term’ needs some definition.

Pre-release means a feature is fit for production use and has been well tested by Microsoft, has Microsoft Support fully behind it, but its a feature that is still being fleshed out, has a low customer uptake and thus a narrow telemetry surface.

If things go wrong with a Pre-release feature, the Product Group are all over it like a rash when prompted, so as to get things working and the feature made even more stable, but as the features stand, they are actually, even though the term Pre-release hints at non-production, production ready features.

Pre-release means production ready. So enabling the ability to use Pre-release features on your Site server does not invoke beta code or put the other features in peril, that’s what Technical Preview is for, code that hasn’t been ironed out fully yet and rated production ready.

Before a feature hits Pre-release you can kick the tyres in the Technical Previews in a non-production Hierarchy, and then plan to switch that feature on for the production Hierarchy when the feature arrives in Current Branch as Pre-release, or wait a while longer for it to move out of Pre-release.

Most of us will only switch on Pre-release for a Hierarchy if we’re going to use some of the features, makes perfect sense, it is a Hierarchy Setting:

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Now, not all of you have, but all of you should have, a test lab running Current Branch, since it is a perfect place to switch on Pre-release and catch up on and review for production usefulness features as they drop into the Current Branch code base, for those that are running Technical Preview, many of these features will already be familiar.

The idea for Run Task Sequence seems to have originated with a UserVoice item being raised by Jerry and signed off as completed by David James (Djam) in the Product Group:

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The circle of community\customer and Product Group\Microsoft is there for all to see, suggest a good idea, and if it gets enough votes it becomes production code.

Participation is not like trying to win a national lottery, UserVoice certainly is not based on luck of the draw, votes and product group interest make suggesting ideas and getting a success a real possibility for everyone. I suggest if you have a good idea to put it on UserVoice here.

I can see Run Task Sequence being quite a handy feature in the OSD space, but should forewarn everyone, don’t go chaining task sequences together for the sake of it, have a real use-case rather than just carving things out because you can, adding complexity can cripple, keep it simple.

From the documentation we get these key points to digest:

  • The parent and child task sequences are effectively combined into a single policy that the client runs
  • The environment is global. For example, if a variable is set by the parent task sequence and then changed by the child task sequence, the variable remains changed moving forward. Similarly, if the child task sequence creates a new variable, the variable is available for the remaining steps in the parent task sequence
  • Status messages are sent per normal for a single task sequence operation
  • The task sequences write entries to the smsts.log file, with new log entries that make it clear when a child task sequence starts

Chaining task sequences together requires a new step deposited in General called Run Task Sequence, as shown below:

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I have a Task Sequence called Parent (Main) which is going to be a root Task Sequence, and below I’ve told it to chain to Child (No1) Task Sequence:

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I’ve told the Child No1 Task Sequence to chain to Child No2

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Here’s a list of what I built:

Task Sequence Name
Parent (Main) – Links to Child (No1)
Child (No1) – Links to Child (No2)
Child No2 – Is linked too but links to nothing

I deleted Child No1, and when opening Parent (Main) to edit, I received this prompt:

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And get the usual un-configured step notification for the Run Task Sequence step that we’re use too when content is removed in a Task Sequence:

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There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to view the topology of chaining that’s taking place in Task Sequences, I figure a community tool could do this easily, visualise the relationships, in the meantime Microsoft will iterate this feature and flesh it out a bit more I hope, a new tab in the properties for a Task Sequence so we can see its relationships without having to pour over the Steps to find where it makes the call, or an easy list to access showing all relationships.

Be great to hear how you are carving up Task Sequences using this new feature, what do you split on …