Automate & Extend with Apps Script (Google Cloud for Student Developers)

Posted by Wesley Chun (@wescpy), Developer Advocate, Google Cloud

In the previous episode of our new Google Cloud for Student Developers video series, we introduced G Suite REST APIs, showing how to enhance your applications by integrating with Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. However, not all developers prefer the lower-level style of programming requiring the use of HTTP, OAuth2, and processing the request-response cycle of API usage. Building apps that access Google technologies is open to everyone at any level, not just advanced software engineers.

Enhancing career readiness of non-engineering majors helps make our services more inclusive and helps democratize API functionality to a broader audience. For the budding data scientist, business analyst, DevOps staff, or other technical professionals who don’t code every day as part of their profession, Google Apps Script was made just for you. Rather than thinking about development stacks, HTTP, or authorization, you access Google APIs with objects.

This video blends a standard “Hello World” example with various use cases where Apps Script shines, including cases of automation, add-ons that extend the functionality of G Suite editors like Docs, Sheets, and Slides, accessing other Google or online services, and custom functions for Google Sheets—the ability to add new spreadsheet functions.

One featured example demonstrates the power to reach multiple Google technologies in an expressive way: lots of work, not much code. What may surprise readers is that this entire app, written by a colleague years ago, is comprised of just 4 lines of code:

function sendMap() {
var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();
var address = sheet.getRange('A1').getValue();
var map = Maps.newStaticMap().addMarker(address);
GmailApp.sendEmail('[email protected]',
'Map', 'See below.', {attachments:[map]});
}

Apps Script shields its users from the complexities of authorization and “API service endpoints.” Developers only need an object to interface with a service; in this case, SpreadsheetApp to access Google Sheets, and similarly, Maps for Google Maps plus GmailApp for Gmail. Viewers can build this sample line-by-line with its corresponding codelab (a self-paced, hands-on tutorial). This example helps student (and professional) developers…

  1. Build something useful that can be extended into much more
  2. Learn how to accomplish several tasks without a lot of code
  3. Imagine what else is possible with G Suite developer tools

For further exploration, check out this video as well as this one which introduces Apps Script and presents the same code sample with more details. (Note the second video emails the map’s link, but the app has been updated to attach it instead; the code has been updated everywhere else.) You may also access the code at its open source repository. If that’s not enough, learn about other ways you can use Apps Script from its video library. Finally, stay tuned for the next pair of episodes which will cover full sample apps, one with G Suite REST APIs, and another with Apps Script.

We look forward to seeing what you build with Google Cloud.

Google Cloud for Student Developers: Accessing G Suite REST APIs

Posted by Wesley Chun (@wescpy), Developer Advocate, Google Cloud

Recently, we introduced the “Google Cloud for Student Developers” video series to encourage students majoring in STEM fields to gain development experience using industry APIs (application programming interfaces) for career readiness. That first episode provided an overview of the G Suite developer landscape while this episode dives deeper, introducing G Suite’s HTTP-based RESTful APIs, starting with Google Drive.

The first code sample has a corresponding codelab (a self-paced, hands-on tutorial) where you can build a simple Python script that displays the first 100 files or folders in your Google Drive. The codelab helps student (and professional) developers…

  1. Realize it is something that they can accomplish
  2. Learn how to create this solution without many lines of code
  3. See what’s possible with Google Cloud APIs

While everyone is familiar with using Google Drive and its web interface, many more doors are opened when you can code Google Drive. Check this blog post and video for a more comprehensive code walkthrough as well as access the code at its open source repository. What may surprise readers is that the entire app can be boiled down to just these 3-4 lines of code (everything else is either boilerplate or security):

    DRIVE = discovery.build('drive', 'v3', http=creds.authorize(Http()))
files = DRIVE.files().list().execute().get('files', [])
for f in files:
print(f['name'], f['mimeType'])

Once an “API service endpoint” to Google Drive is successfully created, calling the list() method in Drive’s files() collection is all that’s needed. By default, files().list() returns the first 100 files/folders—you can set the pageSize parameter for a different amount returned.

The video provides additional ideas of what else is possible by showing you examples of using the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides APIs, and those APIs will be accessed in a way similar to what you saw for Drive earlier. You’ll also hear about what resources are available for each API, such as documentation, code samples, and links to support pages.

If you wish to further explore coding with G Suite REST APIs, check out some additional videos for the Drive, Sheets, Gmail, Calendar, and Slides APIs. Stay tuned for the next episode which highlights the higher-level Google Apps Script developer platform.

We look forward to seeing what you build with Google Cloud!

Mail merge with the Google Docs API

Posted by Wesley Chun, Developer Advocate, Google Cloud

Students and working professionals use Google Docs every day to help enhance their productivity and collaboration. The ability to easily share a document and simultaneously edit it together are some of our users’ favorite product features. However, many small businesses, corporations, and educational institutions often find themselves needing to automatically generate a wide variety of documents, ranging from form letters to customer invoices, legal paperwork, news feeds, data processing error logs, and internally-generated documents for the corporate CMS (content management system).

Mail merge is the process of taking a master template document along with a data source and “merging” them together. This process makes multiple copies of the master template file and customizes each copy with corresponding data of distinct records from the source. These copies can then be “mailed,” whether by postal service or electronically. Using mail merge to produce these copies at volume without human labor has long been a killer app since word processors and databases were invented, and now, you can do it in the cloud with G Suite APIs!

While the Document Service in Google Apps Script has enabled the creation of Google Docs scripts and Docs Add-ons like GFormit (for Google Forms automation), use of Document Service requires developers to operate within the Apps Script ecosystem, possibly a non-starter for more custom development environments. Programmatic access to Google Docs via an HTTP-based REST API wasn’t possible until the launch of the Google Docs API earlier this year. This release has now made building custom mail merge applications easier than ever!

Today’s technical overview video walks developers through the concept and flow of mail merge operations using the Docs, Sheets, Drive, and Gmail APIs. Armed with this knowledge, developers can dig deeper and access a fully-working sample application (Python), or just skip it and go straight to its open source repo. We invite you to check out the Docs API documentation as well as the API overview page for more information including Quickstart samples in a variety of languages. We hope these resources enable you to develop your own custom mail merge solution in no time!