How to fix ‘CliXml’ in parameter input Azure Automation

Azure Automation, Start-AutomationRunbook, parameters, & CliXml…

I’m not going to explain what Clixml is, or what it means, nor am I going to explain exactly why this issue is happening (mainly because I don’t have a clear answer for you).

I’ll give you the solution and a possible way to make this easier for you.

To prevent CliXml parameter input, embed it in double quotes "$ParameterInput"

Yes, that simple…

In stead of this:

$Variable = Get-Variable DebugPreference
$Params = @{"string3"=$Variable}
Start-AutomationRunbook -Name 'RunbookName' -Parameters $Params

Do this:

$Variable = Get-Variable DebugPreference
$Params = @{"string3"="$Variable"}
Start-AutomationRunbook -Name 'RunbookName' -Parameters $Params

The double quotes embedded $Variable"$Variable" is the only difference…

To walk through it completely, I first show what happened and then we look at better solutions later

The function below is an example.
I request a variable and then I pass it in the -Parameters parameter (which is a HashTable, also known as Dictionary) for Start-AutomationRunbook (internal Azure Automation cmdlet).

$runbookName = 'Test2'
$Variable = Get-Variable DebugPreference
$Params = @{"string1"="ValueForPosition1";"string2"="ValueForPosition2";"string3"=$Variable}
Start-AutomationRunbook -Name $RunbookName -Parameters $Params

After I ran this, I see that the runbook has started, but when I open it I see CliXml in the String3 input.
This is the $Variable object I passed in the String3 parameter.

Somewhere within Azure Automation it is converted to CliXml.

How to fix 'CliXml' in parameter input Azure Automation
How to fix ‘CliXml’ in parameter input Azure Automation

And when I open the input it gets even worse…

It looks like it’s JSON & XML. Fortunately, only the wrapper around it has become JSON and the property CliXml contains the input (unfortunately still CliXml).

{"CliXml":"<Objs Version=\"\" xmlns=\"\">\r\n <Obj RefId=\"0\">\r\n <TN RefId=\"0\">\r\n <T>System.Management.Automation.PSVariable</T>\r\n <T>System.Object</T>\r\n </TN>\r\n <ToString>System.Management.Automation.PSVariable</ToString>\r\n <Props>\r\n <S N=\"Name\">DebugPreference</S>\r\n <S N=\"Description\">Dictates the action taken when a Debug message is delivered</S>\r\n <S N=\"Value\">SilentlyContinue</S>\r\n <S N=\"Visibility\">Public</S>\r\n <Nil N=\"Module\" />\r\n <S N=\"ModuleName\"></S>\r\n <S N=\"Options\">None</S>\r\n <Obj N=\"Attributes\" RefId=\"1\">\r\n <TN RefId=\"1\">\r\n <T>System.Management.Automation.PSVariableAttributeCollection</T>\r\n <T>System.Collections.ObjectModel.Collection`1[[System.Attribute, System.Private.CoreLib, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=7cec85d7bea7798e]]</T>\r\n <T>System.Object</T>\r\n </TN>\r\n <LST>\r\n <S>System.Management.Automation.ArgumentTypeConverterAttribute</S>\r\n </LST>\r\n </Obj>\r\n </Props>\r\n </Obj>\r\n</Objs>"}

Let’s take a look at the runbook that is started

The runbook’s content and output:

param (

Write-Output $String1
Write-Output $string2
Write-Output $String3

<Objs Version="" xmlns="">...   

Besides the fact that we can convert the XML to a PSObject ourselves, we can do little else here.

In addition, converting Xml to a PSObject is difficult. I wouldn’t burn my fingers on it (unless the XML is always the same)

So, what’s causing the CliXml?

But then why is this happening? At first I thought I had a semi answer, but unfortunately it is not correct because it also occurs in PS5.

I assumed that something went wrong while converting the parameters to an object because PS7 is built on dotnet core.
I’m guessing there’s still something wrong here, but unfortunately I can’t put my finger on it.

Parameters as JSON is a good substitute!

The maximum parameters for Runbooks is 50 parameters.

Maximum runbook parameters50If you reach the 50-parameter limit, you can pass a JSON or XML string to a parameter and parse it with the runbook.
Azure Automation, Start-AutomationRunbook, parameters, & CliXml…

Now, of course, you’re almost never going to reach this, but I don’t like limitations.
The solution for this is 1 parameter that contains JSON which you then pars in your runbook to a PSObject.

Take a look at the example below:

$runbookName = 'Test2'
$Variable = Get-Variable DebugPreference
$JsonString = @{
	String1 = 'String1'
	String2 = 'String2'
	String3 = $Variable
} | ConvertTo-Json -Compress
$Params = @{"Json"="$JsonString"}
Start-AutomationRunbook -Name $RunbookName -Parameters $Params

Instead of adding 3 parameter values I have 1 JsonString, which I converted to JSON with ConvertTo-Json.

then I pass this in the -Json parameter, and then it’s up to the runbook you call to parse the JSON to a PSObject.

See below the runbook that is called and the result:

param (

$Content = ($Json) | ConvertFrom-Json
Write-Output $Content

String1 String3
------- -------                                                                
String1 @{Name=DebugPreference; Description=Dictates the action taken when a D…

Published by

Bas Wijdenes

My name is Bas Wijdenes and I work as a PowerShell DevOps Engineer. In my spare time I write about interesting stuff that I encounter during my work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *