Leveraging Advanced Features in Google Sheets

January 4, 2021

A spreadsheet is a computer program/application used to store data, analyze and organize it in a tabular format. These applications are vital in our day to day activities. Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice, and OpenOffice are other examples of spreadsheets.

Being offered by Google, along with other applications, Google spreadsheet is available to all users with Gmail accounts. This application interfaces with other applications to increase their overall effectiveness. Developers need to consider available ways to utilize the features of Google Spreadsheets efficiently.

Online/offline access

Google offers most of the services online, making them accessible from any part of the world. It allows an offline capability for some applications like Google spreadsheet to increases service availability. To turn on offline access, navigate to Google Drive, click on Settings on the top right, and switch on the offline setting. To set a document available offline, navigate to Google Drive, right-click on it, and turn on the “Available offline” feature.

Offline Access

Complement data collection

Google Forms are customizable, and the data collected can be exported easily into a Spreadsheet. Google spreadsheet can be unlinked to prevent the form from submitting data to it.

Link to Google form

Develop web applications

Google offers a programming language called Google Apps Script that is available to enable spreadsheet data processing and make it open to the public via web applications. Google App Script heavily uses JavaScript that is commonly used and thus makes it a versatile language.

It’s flexible to use and can adapt to changes in technology. The language lets you read, update, and manipulate Google application data using scripts. Interfaces can also be built to help provide feedback and collect user inputs. It also allows developers to tap into other applications service.

Deploy web appliction

Mobile application development

Google offers AppSheet mobile applications used to host mobile applications developed from the spreadsheet tab. This app does not require any coding skills (its drag and drop), unlike other code-driven platforms.

The application development follows the following steps:

  • Data preparation.
  • Connecting spreadsheet data to AppSheet to create an app.
  • Refine the app data usage.
  • Refine how the app displays data.
  • Add workflows, actions, and reports to the app.
  • Define the app’s security settings.
  • Testing app with real users.
  • Deployment and sharing the app.
  • Improving the app and getting feedback.

Sheets is a mobile application developed by Google to enable the editing of Google sheets on mobile devices with small screens such as tablets and mobile phones.

Mobile app

Collaboration

The ability to share spreadsheets with other users and have a real-time interaction is a great feature. It allows for multiple and simultaneous uses of a document by users. Access can also be determined by rights to view, comment, edit, and own. Sharing can be done with a group or it can be made public by sharing the link.

Google also allows editors to see the version history to view the edits and changes made to cells, sheets, or even the whole spreadsheet and go back to a particular time in history. It enhances the collaboration feature and makes edits trackable and traceable to specific users. Google sheet comes with a chat window that allows collaborators to side chat and shares their views. It also shows the users that are online or available per session.

Collaboration

Ease of use / Availability and security

To access Google spreadsheets, the user only requires a Google email account as it comes with all other applications. Unlike many other applications that demand the file to be saved manually, Google sheet autosaves in Google drive, thereby saving users the worry of losing the document in the case of power loss.

Google spreadsheet has a few menus, thus considered user friendly. The application security is heightened via the capability to enable 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) in Google email. Updates release becomes an entirely seamless process with the application being online.

Cost

The application is offered for free with only a Gmail email registration as a requirement.

Add-ons

Google encourages developers to publish add-ons for the Google spreadsheet. The add-ons are hosted in the Google marketplace and serve various purposes ranging from data entry, manipulation, and analysis to display. Developers can read, edit, visualize, and format data and use Google App Script to directly access the REST API.

It is possible to create menus, sidebars, and custom dialogue using CSS and HTML. An excellent example of an add-on is Hunter, which is for Google Sheets and helps find, organize, and verify professional email addresses. It also allows pulling email addresses given first name, last name, and the organization domain.

Add-on

APIs support

Application programming interfaces are essential for interacting with other applications/systems. Google spreadsheet can connect to Google docs, forms, and other Google products and perform data transfer or update periodically based on user request.

Google App Script can work with many applications, thus forming a core point in achieving this functionality. There are defined methods in Apps Script to connect to external and internal applications like databases (such as MySQL, Google Cloud Storage,SQL, Oracle, etc.), Google sheet user interface (UI).

G Suite (Google Workspace)

G Suite was changed to Google Workspace. It’s a collection of Google products and services, with the primary focus being collaboration and productivity. It allows organization administrators to manage their user emails and control the application and add-ons they may install.

The emails are therefore customized to the Google Workspace account. Besides, Google expands the limits from ordinary Gmail accounts to the plan the organization subscribes to.

Conclusion

Developers have researched for a better and easier way to automate their processes. Analysis, data storage, and organization remain key considerations in modern-day activities.

Google has continuously improved its spreadsheet to provide the best product a spreadsheet can offer. The spreadsheet is readily available, cost-effective, offers real-time access, and helps organize and collaborate. They supplement the tool with excellent services by Google, add-ons, mobile app, web app, etc.

References

  1. wallstreetmojo.com
  2. helpdeskgeek.com
  3. tallyfy.com
  4. tillerhq.com
  5. spreadsheetpoint.com
  6. ionos.com
  7. blog.tcea.org
  8. appsheet.com
  9. developers.google.com/apps-script/
  10. developers.google.com/gsuite/
  11. support.google.com/docs/

Peer Review Contributions by: Lalithnarayan C


About the author

Peter Ndegwa

Peter Ndegwa is a software developer with a focus to transform and automate business processes. He is passionate about the web and mobile application development as a full-stack developer. Further, he is a master of Google applications with a vast knowledge of Google add-ons and web development. As an MSc. Computer Science student, his key interest is artificial intelligence (AI) specifically machine learning (ML).

This article was contributed by a student member of Section's Engineering Education Program. Please report any errors or innaccuracies to enged@section.io.