I have a love/hate relationship with Google Spreadsheets. On the one hand, I love how easy it is to integrate Web data into spreadsheets, and how easy it is to share and collaborate with others. On the other hand, the limitations for integrating data and spreadsheet sizes drive me banonkers. Score one for Google, though — yesterday’s announcement of a script gallery for Google Spreadsheets may tip the balance back towards luv.
So how do these scripts work? You can get the technical details at this blog post, but I’m just thinking macro. If you want to see ’em at work open up a Google Spreadsheet, then choose Insert->Script. You’ll get a script gallery in a popup window.
Scripts are organized into several categories, including business, statistics, and personal finance. There’s also a “fun and games” section, because I know you’ve been longing for a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” calculator. Actually just glancing through the scripts I found several things that’ll be useful, like the “Text to Columns” script (convert text to columns splitting on whitespace or a designated splitter — THANK YOU!) and a script that populates a spreadsheet with my Google Contacts.
When you add a new script, often you will get a new menu item on your spreadsheet (sometimes a new function becomes available instead.) When you enact the script for the frist time it’ll check to see if any permissions are necessary, and if there are you’ll get a giant warning box for which you have to give access permission. (Like the Google Apps Marketplace, I don’t know how much trust to give those scripts that have been already been vetted by Google, so these boxes leave me confused.) Once you’ve given permission, the use of the installed menu items is usually pretty straightforward.
I really liked some of the scripts I found, but I was surprised at some of the empty categories in the script directory. Further, I was left unsure by the giant warning screens coming before script permissions. Since I tend to create large, occasionally intricate spreadsheets, I will approach adding these scripts with caution.
If you’re interested in learning about creating scripts of your own, you can review the documentation at http://www.google.com/google-d-s/scripts/service_sites.html.