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March 19, 2008

Google Spreadsheets Adds Gadgets, a Directory of Features

Google Spreadsheets, the most mature application from Google's online office suite, has suddenly become much better.

Now you can get email notifications when your collaborators make changes or edit some specific cells. You can also get notifications when someone submits new data using a form.

Google Spreadsheets autocompletes the value from a cell so it's much easier to enter repetitive data in a column.

If the existing features aren't enough for you, there's a new directory of gadgets that can be added to a spreadsheets and use existing data. You may remember the data visualization gadgets I found last month: they're part of this directory, which includes many other interesting gadgets. You can add interactive time series charts, Gantt charts, funnel charts, timelines, tables with filters and grouping, pivot tables, maps, search results and you can also create your own gadget that adds other missing features. As with any beginning, not all the gadgets work very well and the pivot table gadget created by Panorama doesn't seem to work at all.

To add a gadget, click on the "Insert" dropdown and select "Gadget". Each gadget can be embedded into web pages or added to iGoogle, which is extremely cool because the data is updated automatically.

Google Docs help center mentions a new visualization API connected with the new gadgets, but the documentation is not yet available. "The Gadgets-in-Docs for spreadsheets API should be used when you want to create user-facing features which are accessible from within the spreadsheet editor of Google Docs itself. This approach combines the Google Gadgets API with the Google Visualization API, to allow the developer to access data on the spreadsheet for use or presentation in practically any form they choose. Developers using this method should already be familiar with the development of Google Gadgets, and then only need to learn some basic additions provided by the Visualization API. Note that this approach currently only supports one-way interaction with the underlying spreadsheet (reading data), however, it has the advantage of enabling the publishing of gadgets created in a spreadsheet to other gadget-enabled sites, such as iGoogle."

If you find some interesting uses for the new gadgets, publish your spreadsheet and post a link in the comments.

{ via Blogoscoped Forum }

Update. A cool visualization gadget based on GapMinder World (you'll find in Google Docs as "motion chart"):


  1. that is exactly what i was writing in their feedback form :D

  2. it's strange that they don't allow to group data by rows but they only group them by cols by default, or did I miss sth? Some of the gadgets are the same with the charts but they lack options the charts already have!

  3. the Pivot works

  4. I've added a Gauge gadget that's pulling from a live feed of our support ticket spreadsheet. Definitely an addition to the Google Sites dashboard for our support group.

  5. This is a brilliant new feature - especially the ability to easily build gapminder-style motion charts. Now, if only web-based interfaces didn't suck (it'd be nice to have basic things from Excel like drag-and-drop)

  6. Google has outdone themselves again.

  7. Google seems to be using Adobe Flex, for example for the Motion Chart Gadget ('Is It Flex?' link)

  8. I'd like to mention another pivot table solution entering beta in the next couple weeks:
    demo at:


  9. Thanks for the tip :)

    Maybe I'm getting this wrong but how do you get to display the data "right".

    I mean the total is 72729 (visitors) not the sum on all 4 rows. Therefor the percentage of frequent buyers should be [2335/727.89=]~3.2% not 2% as shown there.

  10. Some how I can't get the Moving Booble into work. Other gadget work sometime but in general very slow.

    Is there any example of real data that need to make Moving booble work. The current instruction is a bit confusing

  11. i can't figure out how to use the gantt chart.

    for the other gadgeds, there is a help... unfortunately there is none for gantt...

    but after all: these features are great!:-)

    i m not sure if i'll use them often, but they are really nice to look at ;)

  12. same problem for me. there is no help for gantt charts!

  13. The Gantt gadget was created by a third-party: ViewPath. The format for your data should be:

    [Name of the task] [Start date] [Finish date]

  14. Thanks for the heads-up! One more thing to add to the post: You now have even more color choices when coloring cells or font. They added an extra pastel/greyish row that didn't use to be there.

  15. Excellent tool!
    One thing: it will be good if we can use logarithm scale. (but displaying correctly in the label = 0;10;100;1000....)

  16. Viewpath Gantt Gadget sucks. Finally figured out how to make it work (by reading user posts, because they don't provide any documentation) and now today not viewing. Also you can't print the resulting chart. Or export it. Disappointing -- such a needed tool!

  17. Doesn't work in Firefox.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. can you change the date field to months?

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  21. is there an add on for google docs that allows you to Group rows? If so, what is it?


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