Technology Nuts for Blind Squirrels: Google Script Apps

As technology becomes more infused into every profession, some of us who have been in the recreation field for “a while” find ourselves having to explore the wonders of technology on our own. The problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know. This post is part of a series about technology tools I have stumbled upon that have proven to be the most useful in my job.

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Google Forms are extremely useful, but sometimes I find myself wanting them to have more functionality than what is available on the basic response spreadsheet menu. I started experimenting with Google Script Apps and have found several that have been quite helpful.

Google Script Apps are developed using the JavaScript platform, and add functionality to spreadsheets similar to the way a macro works. Google provides information on how to develop Google Script Apps yourself, but honestly, thinking about trying to develop my own Script App makes my eyeballs roll up in my head. Luckily, I have found what I needed from the Scripts Gallery, which contains Script Apps that have been developed and shared by third party users.

To access the Script Gallery, open the form’s responses spreadsheet. Then click Tools→Script Gallery… The Script Apps are organized into categories. It might take some hunting on your part, along with internet searches on specific script apps to get more information and tips, but the results could prove to be real time-savers. Below are descriptions of two Script Apps that I have used.

UPDATE 4/29/14: Google Script Apps still work with Forms, but they are not available for the new Google Sheets. Google has added the new “Add On” Store for sheets, which adds great functionality to spreadsheets, but some of the older Google Script Apps are no longer available. If you want to create a Google Sheet and use a Google Script App with it, you will need to use the old version of Google Spreadsheets. Just click on this link to create an old version of Google Sheets.

1. Add Reminder: Never Miss a Deadline

There is a link to our Equipment Reservation Form on our website that allows patrons to reserve volleyball sets, footballs, flag sets, etc., in advance of when they want to pick up the equipment. That way we can collect the equipment they want and have it ready when they come to pick it up. However, if the request was made several days or weeks in advance, I was afraid that I would forget to fill the order on time. I found a Google Script App called “Add Reminder” that was designed to look at a date in a certain cell and send me an email reminder on a specified day. I selected the cell in my response spreadsheet that contained the date of equipment pick-up, and chose to receive a reminder the day before that date, so that I can have the order ready for pick-up the next day.

2. AutoCrat: Email a Personalized Document to Respondents of a Google Form

On occasion, I conduct online training for my staff of 70+ student employees. The training usually includes a Google Form quiz that my staff must complete and submit. This has worked fairly well, but can be time-consuming to grade and report on that many quizzes. After some searching and experimentation, I added sheets to a Google Form response spreadsheet that automatically graded the quiz. Using the AutoCrat Script App, students are then automatically sent a pdf document with their score, including directions on how to retake the quiz if they didn’t make the minimum score.

What Google Scripts Apps have you developed or used that you find helpful?

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