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Tagged by 'google-apps-script'

  • I've been delving further into the world of Google App Scripts and finding it my go-to when having to carry out any form of data manipulation. I don't think I've ever needed to develop a custom C# based import tool to handle the sanitisation and restructuring of data ever since learning the Google App Script approach.

    In this post, I will be discussing how to search for a value within a Google Sheet and return all columns within the row the searched value resides. As an example, let's take a few columns from a dataset of ISO-3166 Country and Region codes as provided by this CSV file and place them in a Google Sheet named "Country Data".

    The "Country Data" sheet should have the following structure:

    name alpha-2 alpha-3 country-code
    Australia AU AUS 036
    Austria AT AUT 040
    Azerbaijan AZ AZE 031
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland GB GBR 826
    United States of America US USA 840

    App Script 1: Returning A Single Row Value

    Our script will be retrieving the two-letter country code by the country name - in this case "Australia". To do this, the following will be carried out:

    1. Perform a search on the "Country Data" sheet using the findAll() function.
    2. The getRow() function will return single row containing all country information.
    3. A combination of getLastColumn() and getRange() functions will output values from the row.
    function run() {
      var twoLetterIsoCode = getCountryTwoLetterIsoCode("Australia"); 
    }
    
    function getCountryTwoLetterIsoCode(countryName) {
      var activeSheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet();
      var countryDataSheet = activeSheet.getSheetByName('Country Data');
    
      // Find text within sheet.
      var textSearch = countryDataSheet.createTextFinder(countryName).findAll();
    
      if (textSearch.length > 0) {
        // Get single row from search result.
        var row = textSearch[0].getRow();    
        // Get the last column so we can use for the row range.
        var rowLastColumn = countryDataSheet.getLastColumn();
        // Get all values for the row.
        var rowValues = countryDataSheet.getRange(row, 1, 1, rowLastColumn).getValues();
    
        return rowValues[0][1]; // Two-letter ISO code from the second column.
      }
      else {
        return "";
      }
    }
    

    When the script is run, the twoLetterIsoCode variable will contain the two-letter ISO code: "AU".

    App Script 2: Returning Multiple Row Matches

    If we had a dataset that contained multiple matches based on a search term, the script from the first example can be modified using the same fundamental functions. In this case, all we need to do is use a for loop and pass all row values to an array.

    The getCountryTwoLetterIsoCode() will look something like this:

    function getCountryTwoLetterIsoCode(countryName) {
      var activeSheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet();
      var countryDataSheet = activeSheet.getSheetByName('Country Data');
    
      // Find text within sheet.
      var textSearch = countryDataSheet.createTextFinder(countryName).findAll();
    
      // Array to store all matched rows.
      var searchRows = [];
    
      if (textSearch.length > 0) {
        // Loop through matches.
        for (var i=0; i < textSearch.length; i++) {
          var row = textSearch[i].getRow();  
          // Get the last column so we can use for the row range.
          var rowLastColumn = countryDataSheet.getLastColumn();
          // Get all values for the row.
          var rowValues = countryDataSheet.getRange(row, 1, 1, rowLastColumn).getValues(); 
    
          searchRows.push(rowValues);
        }
      }
    
      return searchRows;
    }
    

    The searchRows array will contain a collection of matched rows as well as the column data. To carry out a similar output as shown in the first App Script example - the two-letter country code, the function can be called in the following way:

    // Get first match.
    var matchedCountryData = getCountryTwoLetterIsoCode("Australia")[0];
    
    // Get the second column value (alpha-2).
    var twoLetterIsoCode = matchedCountryData[0][1];
    

    Conclusion

    Both examples have demonstrated different ways of returning row values of a search term. The two key lines of code that allows us to do this are:

    // Get the last column so we can use for the row range.
    var rowLastColumn = countryDataSheet.getLastColumn();
    
    // Get all values for the row.
    var rowValues = countryDataSheet.getRange(row, 1, 1, rowLastColumn).getValues();
    
  • Whenever there is a need to restructure an Excel spreadsheet to an acceptable form to be used for a SaaS platform or custom application, my first inclination is to build something in C# to get the spreadsheet into a form I require.

    This week I felt adventurous and decided to break the mundane job of formatting a spreadsheet using an approach I've been reading up on for some time but just never got a chance to apply in a real-world scenario - Google App Scripts.

    What Is A Google App Script?

    Released in 2009, Google App Scripts is a cloud-based platform that allows you to automate tasks across Google Workspace products such as Drive, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Gmail, etc. You could think of App Scripts as similar to writing a macro in Microsoft Office. They both can automate repeatable tasks and extend the standard features of the application.

    The great thing about Google App Script development is being able to use popular web languages (HTML/CSS/JavaScript) to build something custom. Refreshing when compared to the more archaic option of using VBA in Microsoft Office.

    Some really impressive things can be achieved using App Scripts within the Google ecosystem.

    Google Sheets App Script

    The Google App Script I wrote fulfils the job of taking the contents of cells in a row from one spreadsheet to be copied into another. The aim is to carry out automated field mapping, where the script would iterate through each row from the source spreadsheet and create a new row in the target spreadsheet where the cell value would be placed in a different column.

    This example will demonstrate a very simple approach where the source spreadsheet will contain five columns where each row contains numbers in ascending order to then be copied to the target spreadsheet in descending order.

    Before we add the script, we need to create two spreadsheets:

    • Source sheet: Source - Numbers Ascending
    • Target sheet: Destination - Numbers Descending

    The source sheet should mirror the same structure as the screenshot (below) illustrates.

    Google Sheet - Source

    The target sheet just needs to contain the column headers.

    The App Script can be created by:

    1. Navigating to Extensions > App Scripts from the toolbar. This will open a new tab presenting an interface to manage our scripts.
    2. In the "Files" area, press the "+" and select "Script".
    3. Name the script file: "export-cells-demo.gs".

    Add the following code:

    // Initialiser.
    function run() {
      sendDataToDestinationSpreadSheet();
    }
    
    // Copies values from a source spreadsheet to the target spreadsheet.
    function sendDataToDestinationSpreadSheet() {
      var activeSheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet();
    
      // Get source spreadsheet by its name.
      var sourceSheet = activeSheet.getSheetByName('Source - Numbers Ascending');
    
      // Select the source spreadsheet cells.
      var sourceColumnRange = sourceSheet.getRange('A:E');
      var sourceColumnValues = sourceColumnRange.getValues();
    
      // Get target spreadsheet by its name..
      var targetSheet = activeSheet.getSheetByName('Destination - Numbers Descending');
    
      // Iterate through all rows from the source sheet.
      // Start index at 1 to ignore the column header.
      for(var i = 1; i < sourceColumnValues.length; i++) {
        // Get the cell value for the row.
        var column1 = sourceColumnValues[0,i][0];
        var column2 = sourceColumnValues[0,i][1];
        var column3 = sourceColumnValues[0,i][2];
        var column4 = sourceColumnValues[0,i][3];
        var column5 = sourceColumnValues[0,i][4];
        
        // Use getRange() to get the value position by declaring the row and column number.
        // Use setValue() to copy the value into target spreadsheet column.
        targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 1).setValue(column5);
        targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 2).setValue(column4);
        targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 3).setValue(column3);
        targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 4).setValue(column2);
        targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 5).setValue(column1);
      }
    }
    

    The majority of this script should be self-explanatory with the aid of comments. The only part that requires further explanation is where the values in the target sheet are set, as this is where we insert the numbers for each row in descending order:

    ...
    ...
    targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 1).setValue(column5);
    targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 2).setValue(column4);
    targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 3).setValue(column3);
    targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 4).setValue(column2);
    targetSheet.getRange(i+1, 5).setValue(column1);
    ...
    ...
    

    The getRange function accepts two parameters: Row Number and Column Number. In this case, the row number is acquired from the for loop index as we're using the same row position in both source and target sheets. However, we want to change the position of the columns in order to display numbers in descending order. To do this, I set the first column in the target sheet to contain the value of the last column from the source sheet and carried on from there.

    All the needs to be done now is to run the script by selecting our "run()" function from the App Scripts toolbar and pressing the "Run" button.

    The target spreadsheet should now contain the numbered values for each row in descending order.

    Google Sheet - Target

    Voila! You've just created your first Google App Script in Google Sheets with simple field mapping.

    Conclusion

    Creating my first Google App Script in a real-world scenario to carry out some data manipulation has opened my eyes to the possibilities of what can be achieved without investing additional time developing something like a Console App to do the very same thing.

    There is a slight learning curve involved to understand the key functions required to carry out certain tasks, but this is easily resolved with a bit of Googling and reading through the documentation.

    My journey into Google App Scripts has only just begun and I look forward to seeing what else it has to offer!