An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to gostips@gmail.com.

May 28, 2009

Customize Google Using Server-Side Scripts

Google's services have a lot of powerful features, but they can't offer all the options requested by users. A popular way to customize Google services is using Greasemonkey scripts: some of the most popular scripts are included in Firefox extensions like Customize Google or Better Gmail. While user scripts can help you tweak Google features, they need to be installed on each browser you use and they can be easily be rendered useless after Google changes the code.

A different approach to extend Gmail's functionality was Gmail Labs, which allowed you to pick add-ons that are dynamically integrated in Gmail. Depending on the Gmail add-ons that you select, you'll run one of the many possible customized versions of Gmail. For now, only Gmail engineers add Google Labs features.

I'm sure that many Greasemonkey users would like to add upload a script to Gmail or Google Docs so that it's saved on Google's servers and it no longer requires Greasemonkey. Ideally, the script should use Google APIs instead of manipulating the DOM directly.

Google Scripts is answer to this problem, it's a way to extend the functionality offered by services like Google Docs, Gmail or Google Calendar.
With scripts, you can:

* Create your own custom spreadsheet functions
* Automate repetitive tasks (e.g. process responses to Google Docs forms)
* Link multiple Google products together (e.g. send emails or schedule Calendar events from a list of addresses in a Spreadsheet)
* Customize existing Google products (e.g. add custom buttons or menus to run your own scripts)

The scripts help you add macros to a Google spreadsheet by writing some JavaScript code in Google's script editor. "Google Apps Script provides the ability to automate a variety spreadsheet actions, such as reading and changing values in cells and ranges, changing formats and formulas, and creating custom functions," explains Jonathan Rochelle.


But the feature goes beyond spreadsheet macros. "Users write scripts in JavaScript using libraries designed to provide a powerful interface with Google products. If you already are a JavaScript developer, a key difference is that scripts run on Google Servers instead of user browsers. As a result, direct operations on the client-side DOM are not supported, although some restricted functionality is provided. Your code executes server-side, and operates on the Google products you've coded for."


For now, Google Scripts is not publicly available, but you can apply to become a tester if you have a Google Apps account.


{ via Google Blogoscoped }

22 comments:

  1. News sounds great, but that testing application screen looks a bit "phishy" to me. Notice that it is hosted on Google Sites, not Google itself, and the fact that the signup screen is just a Google Spreadsheet form. Add to the fact that it just doesn't have Google's look and feel to any of the pages, and it has phishing all over it. If you have used it and it works that is great, but I know I won't be putting my username and password there...

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Anthony:
    The form is linked from a Google site and it doesn't require to enter your password. You only need to enter your name, your email address and the domain used in Google Apps.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Add to the fact that it just doesn't have Google's look and feel to any of the pages, and it has phishing all over it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Haha, oh, I guess I should have looked a little more closely... Still, seems odd that they would go that route instead of having it hosted the way they normally do. Thanks for the correction and heads up, though.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting that the tutorial is great for sending SPAM.

    ReplyDelete
  6. also gr8 features to customize Google at:
    http://www.deeperweb.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. This isn't live yet. Looks awesome though. I've helped write some custom enterprise apps on top of Microsoft Excel for my employer using C#+VSTO. I tried to port to the C#/Java Google spreadsheet API, but it was limited. This looks very promising. Too bad we can't try it out just yet.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Can I load/unload data to BigTable for Google AppEngine apps to use?

    We have a Google spreadsheet GUI in the cloud, custom extensions, all we need is to be able to integrate with a full blown data store (BigTable) and custom web apps (AppEngine).

    This would be *AMAZING* if it had that functionality. As-is, this is a big omission.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cool!

    Now it will be even easier to create RSS feeds etc from within Docs.

    ReplyDelete
  10. All we need is to be able to integrate with a full blown data store and nothing else.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The signups are now closed, hopefully they will make it public soon.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We have a Google spreadsheet GUI in the cloud, custom extensions, all we need is to be able to integrate with a full blown data store (BigTable) and custom web apps (AppEngine).

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good information about how to stop snoring. I checked your website and found important. Get The Ex Back

    ReplyDelete
  14. The form is linked from a Google site and it doesn't require to enter your password. You only need to enter your name, your email address and the domain used in Google Apps.

    ReplyDelete
  15. ...sending emails from spreadsheet...cool!

    ReplyDelete
  16. What?...you can send emails from spreadsheets! Never heard of that before or have i been hiding behind a rock?

    ReplyDelete
  17. I like how I can customize my spreadsheet with Google scripts. Makes it easier for repetitive tasks.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Greasemonkey scripts makes using my Google docs so much easier. I love how things just keep getting better and better with Google!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Coooll Add to the fact that it just doesn't have Google's look and feel to any of the pages, and it has phishing all over it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Interesting that the tutorial is great for sending SPAM. ?????

    ReplyDelete
  21. I like how I can customize my spreadsheet with Google scripts. Makes it easier for repetitive tasks. very nice

    ReplyDelete