Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Apps Script and Google Spreadsheet Room Booking System

You may remember my previous posts about attempts to create a room booking system with Apps Script. This system uses Apps Script to populate a spreadsheet with weekly sheets, that contain lots of "Book me" links ( see below ).

The "Book me" links open a very small web application that is essentially a confirmation screen with a "Book" button.

When a student books a room, the web application says "Booked" and adds the booking to a central calendar and invites the student as guest, so that it appears in their calendar.

One very important aspect of this booking system was the booking quotas that student are given. Each student can only book 3 hours a day in each room. The student is allocated a colour, not just because it looks nice, but because, as you can imagine when a large amount of students are wanting to finish their projects with a finite resource, it can get quite busy. The admin team previously has been spending HOURS policing the bookings to make sure that nobody was bending or breaking the booking rules. The student colouring system is useful for "keeping an eye" on usage of the rooms in general.

There is code to hide "past weeks" based on the day and code to allocate a colour to each user. The solution we have currently is one that is quite difficult to share simply because it is a bit complex to set up, but you may be interested in the approach which is working and despite some hacky aspects and being a little rough around the edges is incredibly simple.

The parts of this project that I like are that, although it looks a bit like a booking system, it is just a spreadsheet, and the admin can "block items" by just deleting the "Book me" links. That the web application is opened in a new tab and "disconnected" from the spreadsheet is a bit icky, but it works and students like it.

The booking system has saved hours and hours of an administrator's time who had to police the bookings every day. "You should patent this" is what they said :-)

One thing I think I've learned about making this (and other similar) booking system is that the words "booking system" should be a warning to all who hear of them. Every booking system is very subtly different, and needs different tweaks and considerations, and hacks and "by the ways" until you realise this booking system isn't subtly different at all, it's completely different. Be warned.


  1. Fantastic post... This room booking info will be very help full for student.

  2. Thanks for your informative site Tom :)

    Is there any way of not just adding the student as a guest and having the event in their calendar, but that it sends them an invite email too?

    I've actually used Apps Script to display the booking system on a site, and that way I can make sure I enforce things like capacity of a room by filtering the drop down. Perhaps you could check for hours booked before confirming and not allow students to get to the confirmation if they have over booked?