Skip to main content

Citizen Development 2.0

In a previous post I looked at Google App Engine as a possible means for people at the University of York to quickly create what might pukingly be called "custom solutions" for themselves.

I made an RSS aggregator ( ) and whilst it's OK, I must say, having to design this site to handle caching and database calls suggested to me that this wasn't an "everyman" route... Google App Engine, it seems to me is a perfectly good platform for the committed closet geek, willing and able to quickly devour the python language and some low level web development concepts ( like data modelling, caching, task queues and the like)

So, recently I've been looking at much more entry level means to creating web applications. The idea is that I should be able to create a simple form that talks to the Google Homework Sites idea, in which a class of students get a Google Site created for them, in which they enter their homework, and later, their privileges are changed to "read only" so that they can't continue working past the deadline.

So... given that the above idea works at a code level, it'd be good if I could create a form that looked something like this...

... so that you can choose ( from a list of your sites ) which site you'd like to use as a template... then select which students should get a copy of the site ( to which they will be added as a "writer" ) and then when to close the sites for editing ( the deadline ).

Introducing AppScript GUI Builder ( EXPERIMENTAL!

A little known feature of Google Docs is the GUI Builder ( GUI stands for Graphical User Interface, meaning buttons and things ).

You can use GUI Builder from within a Google Spreadsheet AppScript or from with a Google Sites AppScript.

As you can see, it has text boxes and buttons and checkboxes and all the things you might need to create a simple form talks to a spreadsheet, or Google sites or other online tools.

I then discovered our SafariBooks account has an online copy of the O'Reilly book... Google Script: Enterprise Essentials. I'd been banging my head against ridiculously simple tasks in AppScript, this book has already straightened out a few kinks in my understanding.

Although I was originally embedding the GUI in a Google Site, the next step was to Publish As Service just the GUI.

Just people from the University of York can get to it here:

I'll let you know how I get on.


Popular posts from this blog

Writing a Simple QR Code Stock Control Spreadsheet

At Theatre, Film & TV they have lots of equipment they loan to students, cameras, microphone, tripod etc. Keeping track of what goes out and what comes back is a difficult job. I have seen a few other departments struggling with the similar "equipment inventory" problems. A solution I have prototyped uses QR codes, a Google Spreadsheet and a small web application written in Apps Script. The idea is, that each piece of equipment ( or maybe collection of items ) has a QR code on it. Using a standard and free smartphone application to read QR codes, the technician swipes the item and is shown a screen that lets them either check the item out or return it. The QR app looks like this. The spreadsheet contains a list of cameras. It has links to images and uses Google Visualisation tools to generate its QR codes. The spreadsheet looks like this. The Web Application The web application, which only checks items in or out and should be used on a phone in conjunctio

Inserting A Google Doc link into a Google Spreadsheet (UPDATED 6/12/2017)

This article looks at using Apps Script to add new features to a Google Spreadsheet. At the University of York, various people have been using Google spreadsheets to collect together various project related information. We've found that when collecting lots of different collaborative information from lots of different people that a spreadsheet can work much better than a regular Google Form. Spreadsheets can be better than Forms for data collection because: The spreadsheet data saves as you are editing. If you want to fill in half the data and come back later, your data will still be there. The data in a spreadsheet is versioned, so you can see who added what and when and undo it if necessary The commenting features are brilliant - especially the "Resolve" button in comments. One feature we needed was to be able to "attach" Google Docs to certain cells in a spreadsheet. It's easy to just paste in a URL into a spreadsheet cell, but they can often

A Working Booking System In Google Sheets

Working with Andras Sztrokay we had another go at a booking system. This time it was to enable staff to book out a number of iPads over a number of days. You select the days you want, then select the Booking menu. Andras did an amazing job. It even creates a daily bookings sheet so you can see who has which iPads. To see this in action, go  here  and  File > Make a Copy (I won't be able to support you this is just provided to maybe give someone else a leg up, good luck!)