How to Automatically Share Teachable Students to Google Drive Files and Folders when they Enroll in your Course

Not only are Google Workspaces, Google Sheets, Docs, Forms and Slide great to work in and look awesome, but the convenience of collaborating and sharing your Google Drive Files and Folders is also super useful. So much so that many course creators share their documents with their students all the time.

The problem that course creators have is that they are generally stuck with two options when sharing their Google Drive files and folders:

  1. Set sharing to Anyone with Link can view. And hope other freeloading students don’t find and share their course material.
  2. Manually share each student as they enrol. Which is time-consuming for the course creator and annoying for the student who needs to wait to be shared before they can get their hands on your awesome course content.

Both options are really terrible.

I reluctantly chose option one for my first Google Sheets Essentials Teachable Course and it really bothered me. I needed to find a way to share my Google Drive course content with only those students who signed up for my course.

In this tutorial, I will guide you through creating a Google Apps Script web app that receives a webhook notification when a student enrols onto one of my Teachable courses. If a student enrolled with a non-Gmail or non-Google Workspace domain email account, they will be sent an email with an attached form to add a Google-friendly email.

If you want a copy of the Google Sheet with the Apps Script attached, without coding it all yourself, plus written-visual tutorials on how to quickly set up your sheet head over to my teachable page now and purchase the sheet and instructions for just $2.95. Yeap not even the price of a cuppa.

The fun thing is that you will experience how the whole process works, because…well…that’s how I am going to share the Google Sheets file with you when you enrol. Neat, hey?

As a part of your purchase you will also get a few other perks:

  • Set files or folders for ‘view’, ‘comment’ or ‘edit’ access. 
  • Add existing students to your selected course Google Drive Files and Folders.
  • Get your full course list from your Teachable site right in your Sheet. 
  • A choice to bulk set your files and folders to:
    • prevent downloads, copying and print.
    • Prevent sharing by any documents you have provided ‘edit’ permission to.

If you want to understand how it all works and build your own, read on, you can always throw a couple of coins at me and enrol to run the workflow just for fun.

Instantly share ONLY Teach:able Students to selected Google Drive Files and Folders

 

If you are looking to build your own Teachable Course you can check out a how-to guide here:

How to launch an online course—and craft your email strategy

How it all works

We will be making use of Teachable’s handy webhooks to receive instances when a student enrols on one of our chosen courses.

We will need to set up a Google Sheet that contains two Sheet Tabs. One for our list of shared files and folders by course and one with our list of registered students.

We will also need to create a way to send a message to any student who has not registered to our Teachable school with a Gmail or Google Workspace domain email and ask them to provide a Google-friendly email. Once they reply we need to automatically share them with their new email.

Let’s Get started.

Creating your Google Sheet Manager

First, we need to create a Google sheet manager to make it easy for us to:

  • Add files and folders that we want to share with our selected courses.
  • Keep a record of our shared students by course.
  • Receive and manage form responses from students who need to provide a Google-friendly email.

Go ahead and create a new Google Sheet.

Setting up your Google Sheet

Name your Google Sheet workbook whatever you want. I’ve named mine:

Share Teachable Students to Google Drive Elements

Store File and  Folder Locations

Rename ‘Sheet1’ to ‘Shared Locations’.

In row 1 enter the following Headers:

  • Course Name
  • Course ID
  • File/Folder Name File
  • Folder URL

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial Share Locations setup

Get the course ID for your Teachable Course

First, head over to your Teachable school. Log in and then select a course.

Navigate to your School Course page and select a course.

Google Sheets teachable connector Shared Locations select course

When the course loads, take a look at the URL, you will see the numerical code.

Google Sheets teachable connector Shared Locations manual selection url

Select and copy it.

Head back to your Google Sheet Manager and select the ‘Shared Locations’ Google Sheets tab.

Now paste it into Column B and then update the title in Column A.

Next, add a name for your File or Folder in Column C. You add what you want here or leave blank if you are feeling lazy. Sometimes it is better to rename the file or folder so that it makes better sense in the context of this list. If you do this, your original file or folder will not change.

Finally, copy and paste in your URL for your file and folder in Column D. Here, you can either navigate to your Google Drive file or folder and copy and paste in the URL. Alternatively, right-click on the file > select Get link > Copy > Done. Then paste in your URL.

Rinse and repeat.

Your ‘Shared Locations’ Google Sheets tab should look like this:

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial Share Locations complete sheetThe most important stuff here is Column B and Column D. We will use this in our Google Apps Script.

Create a named range

Next, selected the range A2:B50 > right-click > View more cell actions > Define named range. Then name the range ‘ShareData’.

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial Share Locations named range
Click to Expand!

We will also use this in our code later.

Store Enrolled students details and Tokens

Create a new Google Sheets tab and call it, ‘Students’.

Next, in cell D1 add the header: For non-Google Accounts.

On row two add from Column A2:

  • Timestamp
  • Email
  • Course
  • Non-Google Email
  • Access Token
  • Token Submit Date
Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial Share Locations Students Sheet tab
Click to expand!

You can see in the image above how a student’s details is added. This is all done via our Google Apps Script.

In the example above we have a student who did not register with a Google-friendly email so we send an email with our form and our Access Token for them to reply with a Google-friendly email. This is all updated automatically.

 

Now it’s time to crack on with the fun stuff, the code. Go to Extensions > Apps Script. You will load your Google Sheet connected Apps Script Editor.

Rename the project. Generally, I rename it to the same name as the Google Sheet.

Creating the Google Apps Script WebApp

Our first task is to receive a notification from our Teachable page via a webhook that a new student has enrolled in our course. We can do this with a Google Apps Script custom doPost() trigger function and building a webapp.

The doPost(e) function allows us to receive information from an external app like our Teachable webhook.

Here is the basic code that will allow us to make sure everything is running successfully:

When we receive our webhook information it will be packaged inside our 'e' or event parameter as a JSON object in the e.postData.contents property. Line 3

Finally, we need to build our frontend environment with the HtmlService class’s createHtmlOutput() method. We will leave its parameter blank here. Line 5

The first deployment of the webapp

We need to deploy our webapp now to get its URL.

In the top right select the Deploy button.

authorise scopes for Google Sheets teachable connector webapp deploy button

A dropdown will appear. Select New deployment.

authorise scopes for Google Sheets teachable connector webapp new deployment

A pop-up window will appear. You shouldn’t have to make any changes here. The Description is optional, I usually put in ‘First Release’ for the first deployment.

‘Execute As’ should be set to “Me(youremail@gmail.com)”.

‘Who has access’ needs to be “Anyone”, because your Teachable account needs to access your webapp.

Select Deploy.

authorise scopes for Google Sheets teachable connector webapp new deployment screenAnother pop-up screen will appear with your webapp URL. Copy the URL and select Done.

authorise scopes for Google Sheets teachable connector webapp new deployment screen url copy

Setting up the Teachable webhook

Head over to your Teachable account and log into your school.

in the sidebar of your Dashboard, select Settings.

Google Sheets teachable connector webhook settings

Then select Webhooks.

Google Sheets teachable connector webhook webhooks

Select New Webhook

Google Sheets teachable connector webhook new webhook

Paste in the Google Apps Script webapp that you created.

Then select the New Enrollment.

Finally, click Create Webhook.

Google Sheets teachable connector webhook selections

That’s it. You’re all done.

Your webhook will remain in a pending state until a user enrols into your course.

Google Sheets teachable connector webhook pending

Testing the webhook

Either create a new student or use an existing ‘test’ student account. Make sure that they are unenrolled from one of your courses.

Go to your Teachable school and select Users > Students.

  1. Search for your test student.
  2. Check the box.
  3. Select Bulk Actions.
  4. Select Enroll in Course.

Google Sheets teachable connector testing webhook add user dialogue already have

Wait a little bit, and then head back to your Google Apps Script editor and navigate to the Executions tab.

You should see that the doPost() function ran and the status was completed.

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial doPost test

Note! If your dummy student account is already enrolled in your course you will not receive a webhook. Teachable will not send a webhook action for something that has already occurred. Simply unenroll your dummy student and enrol them again.

What does enrollment JSON look like?

When your test doPost() function ran it would have collected the following information:

Let’s go ahead and build the propper doGet() function.

Completing the doGet() function

Once we have collected our dataContents we want to first make sure that the type property exists. If it doesn’t, it is unlikely that it is not a webhook and not one sent from Teachable. I’ve used a JavaScript Ternary operator to determine if this property exists or not. We’ll store this in our webhookType variable. Line 13

Next, we check if the type name is "Enrollment.created". If it is, then we will run our main function addUserToDriveElement() taking the dataContents object as an argument. Lines 16-18

Adding users to the Drive files and folders

We will now set up our main run function to complete our task we will call it addUserToDriveElement(). It takes our dataContents as a parameter here.

Here’s the code:

Set the variables

Our first task is to extract the student’s email, their name, course ID and course name from the dataContent.object object. You can find the path to these properties in the JSON example I shared earlier. Lines 10-13

Get the Shared Locations data

Next, we grab the current spreadsheet with the SpreadsheetApp Google Apps Script class and the getActiveSpreadsheet() method.

Remember earlier when we created our Shared Locations sheet tab that we also created a named range called ‘ShareData’. We can conveniently use the getRangeByName() method to get this range. This method takes the named range as an argument and returns the range constructor. From there we can call the getValues() method to grab all the values in each cell. Lines 16-17

Using reduce to extract course URLs

From the values that are retrieved from our ‘ShareData’ named range, we need to extract all the Google Drive files and folder URLs related to the current course that the new student has enrolled in.

Here we use the JavaScript ‘reduce’ method. This method allows us to iterate through our 2d array of ShareData and store only the URLs for our course.

For us, this function will take an accumulator parameter to store our results. We will also use the current value argument here to look at each row of data on each iteration. We will also need to set our initial value to an array so we can add our URL as an array. Lines 19-24

Giving permission

Next, we will attempt to give permissions to our selected files and folders to our newly enrolled students.

Not every student will have enrolled with a Google-friendly email so we need to send those students an email with an attached form. They fill out the form with a Google-friendly email and send it back to us to automatically share them with the course docs.

Now we don’t want just anyone to be able to fill out the form or a ‘charitable student to fill the form out multiple times for their mates. So we need to set a unique token for them.

First, we set the token variable to null, for students who have a Google-friendly email. Line 27

Next, we will attempt to share the student with our course files and folders using our givePermission() function which takes the list of courseUrls and the student’s email. If the function cannot share the student it will return true. We will store this the nonGoogleEmail variable. Line 28

Now we check if nonGoogleEmail was set to true. If it was, then we need to set a form trigger on our Google Sheet and connected Google Form ( We will create this soon).

Then we will email the student to ask them to provide a Google-friendly email with our emailStudent() function, which will return a unique token for the student. This function takes the students name, email and course name. These will be added to the student’s email. Lines 30 – 34

Finally, we need to add our new student to our Google Sheet  addStudentToSheet(email, courseID, token). This will add the student to the ‘Students’ sheet tab along with a date-time stamp.

Now that we have the main function stored out, let’s look at the connected functions.

givePermission(urls, email)

This function is called from addUserToDriveElement(dataContents) and has two parameters:

  1. URLs – an array of Google Drive files and folder URLs connected to the course.
  2. Email – a string containing the student’s email.

The function will return true if the email is a non-Gmail or non-Google Workspace domain email.

Setup for non-Google Users

First, we set a nonGoogleUser variable to false. This will only change if the email could not be shared on the files and folders.

Google Drive API permissions payload

Next, set up the permission payload. This will be sent to the files and folders to give permissions.

We are using the Google Drive advance API here rather than the Google Apps Script DriveApp. Why? Because it allows us to share users without sending them an email confirmation to inform them that they are shared. We want the sharing to be seamless and under the hood. So this is the better approach.

First, we need to connect to the Google Drive advanced service. On the right side of your Google Apps Script editor IDE select Services.

A popup dialogue will appear. Scroll through until you find the Drive API. Select it and then click Add.

Google Sheets teachable connector DriveAPI service connect

Now let’s add our permissions:

Yes, weirdly ‘value’ will equal the email. The role of ‘reader’ equates to ‘view’ access here too. Lines 12 – 16

Iterate through the URLs

We now need to iterate through each of our Google Drive files and folders URLs. We will use the JavaScript forEach method to run our execution inside an arrow function.

Converting the URLs to an ID

Unfortunately, the Drive API does not take a URL as an argument so we will have to extract the file and folder IDs from our URLs. We do this on lines 20 – 25.

First, we set an id variable to an empty string.

Next, we grab the URL of the file or folder stored in our Google Drive.

We will use the JavaScript split() method along with some regular expressions. This methods allows us to separate our string into parts based on a specified divider. For us, our divider with be a set of regular expressions.

In the first split, we want to separate the URL string by either /d/ or /folders/ these are the two primary types of URLs you will find in your Google Drive. For example:

  • https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_wO551p6YASDFEeqziXckFBLHqFpW7rHkjF_uJ-UQBQ/edit#gid=0
  • https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1CUIsbfcVEE-fjOwYqhXITBsdf3AD3js4

In our regular expression, our backslashes need to be escaped with a forward slash. So to get:

  • /d/, we use, \/d\/
  • /folders/, we use, \/folders\/

We can have our regular expression check for either condition use the pipe ‘or’ divider |. Which will give us this regular expression:

/\/d\/|\/folders\//

This will split our string into to an array like this:

We only want the array item at [1] here. So we extract that before moving on to our next split.

.split(/\/d\/|\/folders\//)[1]

Now we want to remove any trailing data after the backslash. We do this by searching for the next backslash and splitting it and then grabbing the array item at [0].

.split(/\//, 1)[0]

This will give us our id.

Attempting to give permission to the user

We need to send our request to share the user to the Google Drive API inside a JavaScript try-catch statement. If a non-google email is shared, it will result in an error and we don’t want our script to stop.

First, we call the Google Drive API Permissions class and then use the insert method to share our students with their permissions. The insert method is going to take 3 arguments:

  1. permission – the permission payload we created above our loop.
  2. id – the ID of the file or folder.
  3. optional query parameter – This we want to NOT sent a notification email.

Resolving non-google friendly emails

If the email is not a Gmail or Google Workspace Domain email then the Drive app request will throw an error. This will be handled by the catch statement.

The catch statement will return an 'e' error event object. This will contain the ‘message’ property. If the nature of the error is that the email could not be added because it was not a Google-friendly email, the student’s email will be reported in the error message. Then we can return our catch statement with nonGoogleUser set to trueLines 38-41

We also want to make sure that any other errors that occurs are actually caught and stored so we will throw a new error with our 'e' error message.

 

Finally, we return our nonGoogleUser true or false result back to the main addUserToDriveElement().

 

Add Student To Sheet

The final task of the main function is to add the student to the ‘Students’ sheet tab.

addStudentToSheet(email, courseID, token) takes 3 parameters:

  1. email: the email of the student. Either Google-friendly or otherwise.
  2. courseID: the ID of the course.
  3. tokennull if the student has a Google-friendly email, otherwise this will be a string containing the token that the student will be sent.

First, we need to select the ‘Student’ Google Sheet tab. Line 9

Next, we will grab your locations date time stamp using the JavaScript new Date constructorLine 11

If we have a token, then we want to append our row with:

  • date timestamp
  • nothing here
  • course ID
  • non-Google friendly email
  • student token

If the student doesn’t have a token then we append the row with :

  • date time stamp
  • email
  • course ID

That’s it for sharing users to selected files and folders. Next, we will look at what to do with students with non-Google emails.

Dealing with non-Google emails

Once we have discovered that the student has a non-Google friendly email we need to send the student an email with a Google Form attached.

Before we get stuck into our code, we need to build our Form.

Connect the form to your Google Sheet Manager

In your Google Sheet Manager go to Tools > Create a new form.

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial form new

A new window will appear with a Google Form editor. Before we work on our form, head back to your Google Sheets Manager and you will notice a 'Form Response1' sheet tab has been added to your workbook. Rename it to exactly: Access Request.

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial form Access Request We will use this Form Sheet tab name in our code so it needs to be exact.

Creating your Google Form

Create the form

Your form should look like this:

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial form creationSet your form title to:

Students Access For Google Drive Course Data

Next, add a short answer field and name it exactly, “Email”. We will be referencing this name in our code in a minute.

Make sure this item is set as required. 

Also select the vertical ellipsis at the bottom right and select response validation.

Set the short answer response validation to Text > Email.

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial form creation validation

Next, go back to the three vertical ellipses in the bottom right and select Description. Enter the following description:

Please provide a Gmail or Google Workspace email to access the drive documents for the course.

Now, add another short answer item and call it exactly, Access Token. We will be using this title for the item again in our code so make it exact.

Set the item to Required and the description to:

Your exclusive access token.

Get the form Prefill URL

We want to be able to pre-fill in the student’s access token for them in the Google Form. To do this, select the vertical ellipsis in the top right of your form editor and then select Get pre-filled link.

Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial form prefill 1
Next, add something like 11111 to your Access Token item and select, Get link. A little popup will appear, select the Copy link button here.
Google Sheets teachable connector tutorial form prefill 2

Open up a text editor or something and paste in the URL. You should have something similar to this:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeOY584mfR_WOGt-Nsov2ycTypzrSXeFrlqOzocKK9Vd_HQ4Q/viewform?usp=pp_url&entry.1257072962=11111

Of course, your form ID and entry id will differ from the example above.  We will use this URL in a moment.

emailStudent()

When we discover a non-Google URL the main addUserToDriveElement() function call the emailStudent() function. This function takes 3 parameters all as strings:

  • email
  • studentName
  • courseName

Our first task is to get the form with our getFormURL() function which takes the form Sheet tab name “Access Request” as our argument. (More on this function in a moment) Line 15

Create a random-ish token.

Next, we create the unique student token that we will add to our Google Form.

Here I am lazily combining two random alphanumeric strings together to create a random number. Line 16

Setting up the email data

First, we set up our email subject. Here we use JavaScript template literals to create our string and include the course name at the end of the subject. Line 18

Next, we create the HTML for our email message to our students. First, we will add in the student’s name and course programmatically. Line 20

The most important thing to note here is the URL link ot the form. We first reference the form URL from our form variable we generated above. Next, we need to go to where we stored our prefill URL and copy this portion of it:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeOY584mfR_WOGt-Nsov2ycTypzrSXeFrlqOzocKK9Vd_HQ4Q/viewform?usp=pp_url&entry.1257072962=11111

?usp=pp_url&entry.1257072962=

Note that your entry number will change. So make sure you use your own number here.

Also, if you do wish to make a copy of this for another project, then the entry number won’t change thankfully.

Emailing the Student

Finally, we need to email the student. We will use a try-catch statement again just in case there is a weird email, but it should be okay if Teachable accepted it.

To send our email we make use of the sendEmail() method of the Google Apps Script GmailApp class.

The sendEmail() method takes the following parameters:

  • email
  • subject
  • body
  • options

We don’t put anything in the body because we want to use the htmlBody property of the options parameter.

Also, in our optional parameters, we can set noReply to true so that the user doesn’t try to reply to the email and also we can set the senders name to ‘Auto Reply’ to make it all cool and official.

If there is an error with sending the email we throw a custom error in the catch block. So we  do this at the end.

 

Finally, we return the token back to addUserToDriveElement().

getFormURL(sheetName)

This function is called from the emailStudent() function. It takes the sheet name of the Google Form sheet tab in the Google Sheets Manager. This should be, ‘Access Request’.

The published form URL is returned.

The reason we use this approach ass opposed to hard coding in the Form URL is that we might want to make a copy of our Google Sheets Manager and attached form and that means the Google Form URL will change.

First, we grab our active Spreadsheet and then get the form sheet by name and its associated form URL. Lines 8-9

We use this form URL in the Google Apps Script FormApp class with the  openByUrl() method. Next, we grab the published URL with the getPublishedUrl() method.

This is all returned back to the emailStudent() function.

setFormTrigger()

Back in the main addUserToDriveElement() function we call the setFormTrigger() if a user does not have a Google-friendly account.

We only want to set this trigger once and only if we have a user in our school who has enrolled with a non-Google friendly email.

We will store a property called, 'hasTrigger' in our Google Apps Script Properties Service. Our first task is to check if there is a property by this name and if it has been set to true. If there is no such property, it will be set to null. Lines 8-9

If there is no such property, then we want to create a trigger. Line 12

To do this we use the Google Apps Script ScriptApp class’ trigger builder. First, we set the newTrigger to call the function 'tokenSubmit'. Then we will specify that it is for the current active spreadsheet and set the rule that the trigger should occur when a form response is submitted to the Google Sheet. Lines 14-17

Then we will set our Properties Service  'hasTrigger' property to true for next time.

tokenSubmit(e)

When a student resubmits their Google-friendly email we need to first verify that there is a matching token in our ‘Students’ sheet. If there is, we need to share them on their course files and folders and add them to our ‘Students’ list.

The tokenSubmit(e) function is triggered when a student submits their form with their Google-friendly email. The onFormSubmit trigger carries an Object with the student’s Google Form input information as a parameter.

I’ve left an example in the code for you to see how it will look.

First, we grab an object of names values that should look like this (Line 17):

Next, we need to grab the range from Col A through to F of our Students sheet tab and grab the values as a 2d arrayLines 20-25

We will set a row number to the first email row under our header. We will use this to find the actual row in the Sheet where our corresponding user will be. Line 27

Find the corresponding row to the token

Next, we will use the JavaScript Find method to determine where the token is in the array if it exists.

Javascript Find MethodThis function will iterate through our 2d array trying to find the row that contains our matching access token and ensure it already has not been filled in.

Find takes a row parameter and can take an optional indexing parameter.

If row 4 (Column E) matches our Access Token from our form and row 5 (Column F – Token Submit Data) is empty then we will update the rowNum and add the new email to Column B and the current Timestamp to Column F.

Sharing the student with the course

If a matchRow exists we want to share the student with the course and record their new email.

We used the same JavaScript reduce method we used in our main run function (Yeah yeah, refactor it, Yagi!).

Then we send the results to the givePermission() function.

Finally, we get the range of the current student in our ‘Students’ sheet tab and update the row. Line 54

Redeploying  your Webapp

You now need to go back and redeploy your script for it to work with your Teachable webhook.

Before you do give your script a run. Maybe try and run the doGet() function. It will come up with an error, but it will also go through authorising all of your scopes.

Next, click the Deploy button on the top right of your Google Apps Script editor. Select, Manager Deployments.

Google Sheets teachable connector final deployment

Select the pencil icon to edit the deployment.

Then change the version to New version. 

Finally, select Deploy.

You are all done!

Conclusion

That’s it you made it through. How did you go? Any errors you had to work through?

If you are looking for a full copy of the code and the connected Sheet and Slide, to simply copy and paste in and run, plus a heap of extra bonus content you can sign up to the corresponding teachable course for a measly $2.95. Yep, less than the price of a cuppa and you would really help me out to keep this site running and making great content for you.

Instantly share ONLY Teach:able Students to selected Google Drive Files and Folders

OR…

If you have found the tutorial helpful, why not shout me a coffee? I'd really appreciate it.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful and you have been able to implement it in your own Teachable site. I would love to hear what site you used it on in the comments. Plus it is a bit of promotion for your own course!

~Yagi

How to Create a Custom Email Auto-responder for a Google Forms Submission with Google Apps Script

A few days before publishing this post, I put a call out for some Beta testers to get free access to my new course Google Sheet: Learn the Essentials through 3 Detailed Projects. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I am super excited about finishing this course. It’s been a labour of love for two and a half months. No wonder I am banging on about it.

Anyway back to the tutorial. I needed a way to provide coupon codes for free access to the course in exchange for some feedback and much-needed tutorials.

To do this, I created a Google Form.  This contained some details and expectations, and then some details about the submitter and a consent checkbox at the end. If the submitter consented and hit submit I wanted them to get an email back with the coupon code.

In this tutorial, we will go through how to create a custom auto email response containing:

  • The submitter’s name in the greeting.
  • Your email message.
  • Your primary signature block from your Gmail account.

To me, this seems like a pretty standard task that anyone might be considering doing. So, I thought I would share the process and the code.

Let’s get cracking!

The Google Form

Here we will go over the highlights and setup as they pertain to the context of the Google Apps Script code.

The form starts off with some information about beta testing the course.

Google Forms beta testing instructions
Click to Expand!

Next, we have the input fields.

  1. Email: This is an atypical field. You create this field by going to the Settings cog and select  Collect email addresses. Here, I also sent the submitter a copy of their responses and limited the responses from each user to one. This made the user use their Gmail account, which added some extra integrity to the form and… well… the user will need a Gmail account to complete the course anyway. This will become important in our code later.
Google Forms settings collect email limit to 1 for beta testing course
Click to Expand
  1. Name: The name of the Beta tester. I’ll grab the first name from this and also record it as part of their testimonial that they consented to.
  2. Occupation (optional): This apparently helps with the credibility of the testimonial and it is also interesting to see the occupation of the people taking the course. Testers can opt-out of this one.
  3. Company (optional): This one was a fizzer. I understand why, you really don’t want to be telling people where you work online. This item was added as part of the testimonials that I researched in preparation for this. I have no idea how course creators got these, which makes me one part, a little suspicious and, one part, blown away by how these folk got students to share who they worked for. In hindsight, I would not add this item. If I personally wouldn’t give out these details, I shouldn’t expect others to.
  4. Consent: This is a mandatory field that the submitter needs to check to confirm their expectation in exchange for the free course. If they don’t check the box, they can’t submit the form and get the coupon code.

The code

We want to get our email auto-responder code to run when the Google Form is submitted to us.  To do this we need to connect our script to the form by opening the Google Apps Script editor up in the Google Form.

You can do this by clicking the vertical ellipsis () in the top-right of the Google Form editor and selecting Script editor.

Google Form access to Google Apps Script Editor
Click to expand!

Code.gs

You can copy and paste this now into your project and rename the project to whatever you are working on. I usually name my project the same as my Form or Sheet if it is directly related.

You can update the subject and htmlBody values to your own data here. You can add HTML to your htmlBody within backticks (your html) Lines 27 & 28

Of course, the coupon code is a big faker-Rooney.  🙄

The code grabs the current users email and name and then emails the respondent with a coupon code after they hit submit on the Google Form.

If you run the code right now you will face some errors. First, we need to set up the trigger to run this code when the user submits it. Also, we need to get authorisation to use scopes, or permissions to give Google Apps Script certain access to your data to run the code and add in an API to access our Gmail signature block.

Add the Gmail API

First up we need to add an advanced API to get access to be able to display the signature block from our Gmail account. You know, to make it look professional.

To add this API in the Google Apps Script editor:

  1. Ensure you are in the Editor.
  2. Select Services +
  3. Scroll down and select Gmail.
  4. Select Add
Add the Gmail API to a Google Apps Script Project
Click to Expand!

Note! As of writing this, the Gmail API only uses your primary signature block and can’t access any other signatures you might have. 

Make sure the Scopes have been Authenticated

You may find, even if you have set up the triggers, that the script doesn’t run because it is missing the permissions you need to run the script. To find out what happened you can check out the execution log in the Google Apps Script IDE  sidebar -4th one down.

Google Apps Script IDE execution log
Click to Expand!

You can then check the errors of your execution log to see what happened.

To fix this ahead of time we can modify the onFormSubmit(e) function a little to run a dummy version of the script.

Before we start, you need to have a least one response in your Google Form. Go ahead now and add in a dummy form submission. You can always delete it later.

Go back into your editor create a new Google Apps Script file and call it Test.gs.

Copy and paste in this code:

Go ahead and run the code. You should get a warning popup for authentication. This will happen just one time and it will be fine for you and anyone who enters the form in future.

Once you have accepted all the scopes your code should run and you will get an email. If you don’t, check the execution log for any errors.

You can also check to see your script scopes by going to the Overview of your Google Apps Script IDE.

Google Apps Script IDE Scopes overview
Click to Expand!

Now we can go back to our Code.gs file and add our trigger to send the email on submission.

Assign the Trigger on Submit

Next, we need to assign a trigger to run our onFormSubmit(e) function in our Code.gs file.

To do this, navigate to the Code.gs file and then:

    1. In the sidebar of the IDE, select the Triggers button indicated by a clock.
    2. Select Add Trigger at the bottom right of the page.
    3. A popup window will appear. Under Choose which function to run select onFormSubmit.
    4. Select event type: On form Submit.
    5. Click Save.

Google Apps Script trigger on form submitClick to Expand!

Run a practice Form Submission

Go ahead and run a dummy form submission again and you should now get an auto-response email with the email you created.


Looking to learn more about Google Apps Scripts in a more structured format? Udemy has some great courses that can get you from the basics to a real Google Apps Script pro.

Got a more specific problem you need help with, but don’t have the time to develop the skills? I can connect you with a trusted freelancer. I have a team of hand-picked experts ready to help.

*The above affiliate links have been carefully researched to get you to what you specifically need. If you decide to click on one of these links it will cost you just the same as going to the site. If you decide to sign up, I just get a little pocket money to help pay for the costs of running this website.

Code breakdown

Pfaawhh!!! 

If you made it to this bit you really want to learn about the nuts and bolts of the script. That’s awesome.

In this, code breakdown, I will go over some of the highlights of the code to help you understand what is going on.

Get the current submitters data

You will notice the single ‘e‘ as a parameter for the onFormSubmit function. This indicates an event object. When a trigger, like our on form submit trigger, is assigned to a function, you can use the event object to get the data that will be drawn from triggering that event. For us, we will get the response from the person who submitted the trigger.

To do this we use the response method on our event object and assign it to our responses variable. Line 3

This will give us access to the same list of methods as you would when you run the Test.gs testAndAuthScopes function’s response variable on the first response in the form

const responses = formResponses[0];

You can find out more options about the formResponse class here.

Here we can access things like the date and time the response was submitted, the response, the response item, the respondent’s email if that was enabled in the form.

For us, we will grab the current respondent’s email first. Getting to the email is a little different than accessing other responses. If you remember when you set up your form, you can force users to add their email to the form in the settings menu.

The email here will always be at the top of the form. To access it, you need to use the getRespondentEmail() function. Line 4

Next, you can access any form item response in your form by calling the getItemResponses() method that will return an array of responses in your Google Form. You can then count from zero down your form to find the number of the item that you want to draw the response from and grab it with an array call, [n].

For us, we need to get the first item after the email, which is the name. This is the zeroeth item in the list. Line 5

Alternatively, if you have already grabbed the item’s ID, then you could use, getResponseForItem(item).

You would have probably have noticed the trim() method on the end of each email. This JavaScript method allows us to simply take any whitespace that the respondent accidentally added to their response or email – I’m guilty of accidental extra spaces too. 

Get the first name of the respondent

We want to personalise our email response and use the respondent’s name in the email. These days, it’s generally preferable to use a casual first name approach.

We don’t know if the respondent entered their first name or full name. We know with a certain degree of confidence that they will also not add in their title in this input as well. With this in mind, we can extract all the letters up to the first name and safely assume that this will be their first name (No one likes entering a first and last name input when they can do it in one line).

Here’s our code:

Here we create our firstName variable. The first thing we need to check is if the user added just a first name or a first and last name.  This is done with a JavaScript ternary or conditional operator that is basically a single line if statement.

In our condition inside the braces, we use the indexOf method on our name variable. This method takes one variable, the searchable value. In our case, this is an empty space, (" "). If a space is found it will return the index or numerical location of the space. If no space exists, it will return -1.

We check to see if there is no space, which will equal -1. If this is the case, then we just report the name variable, because the user only entered their first name on the form.

However, if there is a space, then we want to create a new string with all the characters up to the first space. We do this by using JavaScript’s substring method. This method takes a start and end index inside the string. For us, our start is the first value which is zero. To get the end index we can use indexOf() again on name to get the location of the space.

Use our signature block on the email

We want to look professional here and add our Gmail signature block to the end of our email like we normally do when we send an email. You would think this would be a pretty simple process, but actually, it is a little challenging.

To access the signature, we have to use the Gmail API Advanced Service we installed earlier.

Here’s the code:

Google Advanced APIs are written a little differently than what is shown in the doc’s when we use them in Google Apps Script. This can make using them a little confusing to get your head around. Let’s take a look at the Gmail API documentation for this method:

GET https://gmail.googleapis.com/gmail/v1/users/{userId}/settings/sendAs.list

In Google Apps Script, this boils down to:

Gmail.Users.Settings.SendAs.list({userId}).sendAs

We replace the {userId} hint with the special "me" input to reference your own account.

Running this on its own will give you a list of all of your emails and their data that are assigned to your account. kind of like this:

 

For me, I have a number of domain accounts along with my primary Gmail account assigned. As you can see in the sample data above, you can see a signature object in the first array. This object contains all the HTML we need to generate our signature block at the end of the email.

We can access this by using the JavaScript filter method. This method creates a new array based on parameters you intend to use to filter. For us, we want to filter down to just keep our default Gmail account. Line 7 

This will give our list of objects and we can then select the signature object (Line 7) which we store in our signature variable (Line 4).

Note, that as of writing this email, there is no way to access alternate emails.

We can then use this at the end of our email message.

Emailing the respondent

Finally, we can email the respondent with our custom message. We do this with the MailApp class and call the sendEmail() method. This method can take a number of possible variations of parameters, but I like to use the object parameter because it gives me more flexibility.

With this approach, you can modify a number of different objects. For our project we will use the following:

  • to: This is the email of the respondent that we will send our message to.
  • subject: Just like in a normal email, you can add your subject text here.
  • htmlBody: You can add your HTML for your text here. You can always use one of the numerous email template builders to do this without hard coding HTML for most of your task. However, you will need to wrap your code in backticks and then at the very bottom add in the signature paragraph.

Here is a link to more emails on MailApp for you to get familiar with it:

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we looked at creating a custom email responder that is triggered when a Google Form is sent. We looked at how to add triggers to run our code when the form is submitted. Then we made sure all of our permissions and scopes were added so that our code would run. We also had to add the Gmail API advanced service to get our signature block.

So where to next?

You might want to run different custom email responses based on the respondent’s response. Here you could look at the user’s response and then perhaps use an if statement or switch to send the code to a specific set of htmlBody that relates to that particular response.

What do you think you would use this for? I would love to hear in the comments below.

If you’ve liked this tutorial and want to get regular updates on what I am working on next, you can subscribe down below this post.

Happy coding!

~Yagi

Google Apps Script: How to Add and Remove Editors to a Google Sheet based on Sheet Data

Google Apps Script, Google Sheets, Javascript

Have you ever wanted to have a Google Sheet available for only those users who need to edit and then once they are done, take their edit permissions away to maintain the integrity of the sheet?

I know that I have come across these conditions a number of times in the past. Maybe you have a task list that you want to send your team each time a task is allocated to them. Once they let you know that they are done, by say, entering a set of values or checking a task complete box on the row they need to work on, you want to be able to remove their edit permissions from your sheet.

In this post, we have created a Google Apps Script that will add and remove editors to a Google Sheet based on the spreadsheet’s data. More specifically, this script will:

  • Grab the users name and email in each row along with whether or not they have complete the task or if the Google Sheet has been shared and sent to the user.
  • Share the assigned user to the Google Sheet.
  • Send an email to the user. A separate Google Sheet tab is added to the sheet so an administrator can add their custom email message.
  • Automatically check a reference column of checkboxes indicating that the assigned user has been shared as an editor on the Google Sheet and an email has been sent to them.
  • Once the task has been complete the user check the “Edit Complete” checkbox in their assigned row.
  • Either automatically each day or when the Google Sheets administrator clicks the button,  each user who has completed all assigned tasks is removed from having edit permissions to the Google Sheet.

The best way to probably understand this script is through an example…

Continue reading “Google Apps Script: How to Add and Remove Editors to a Google Sheet based on Sheet Data”

Google Apps Scripts: Create Time Triggers to automatically send email task reminders from a Google Sheets check list

Google Apps Script: Time Triggers, ClockTriggerBuilder, ScriptApp

One of the most powerful things about Google Apps Script is the ability to automatically complete tasks with time-driven triggers. You can set up your code to run any one of your functions in your script by the minute, hour, day, week, or month. You can even set it to run based on a specific date.

Have a look at the time-driven trigger options below:

    • Specific Date and Time: Based on: YYYY-MM-DD HH: MM format
    • Minute: Every minute or every 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes.
    • Hour: Every hour or every 2, 4, 6, 8 or 12 hours.
    • Day: At a time within an hourly bracket. For example:
      • Midnight to 1 am,
      • 3 pm to 4 pm
  • Month: On a specific day of a calendar month at a specific time. For example:
      • Every 3 day of the month at between 3 am and 4 am.

There are two approaches to setting up these time-based triggers. The first one is by simply using the Trigger creator inside the G Suite Developer Hub. This allows you to select the function that you want to add a trigger to for your project and fill out a simple form to determine when you want your trigger to run.

Gsuite Developer hub time trigger

Alternatively, you can create a time trigger programmatically using the ClockTriggerBuilder class.

In this tutorial, we will build on a previous project we’ve called The Badger, that contains a task check off Google Sheet. If the user does not check off their sheet by the due date, then we can send them an HTML email reminder.

Google Apps Script email remind from Google Sheet The Badger 2

Don’t worry, I will provide the starter code and the Google Sheet for you in a minute. However, if you want to learn how I created the email reminder for The Badger you can follow the tutorial here:

Google Apps Script: Create an HTML email reminder service from Google Sheet data.

If you want to see how I created the Spreadsheet, you can check out this link:

Google Sheets: How to create a task completion check sheet.

Setting Up

Continue reading “Google Apps Scripts: Create Time Triggers to automatically send email task reminders from a Google Sheets check list”

Google Apps Script: Create an HTML email reminder service from Google Sheet data.

Google Apps Script: SpreadsheetApp, Utilities, MailApp, UrlFetchApp, HtmlService, onOpen

Ever wanted a quick way to send reminders to staff, letting them know that their task is overdue?

I often have to provide Google Sheet checklists that administration team managers can crosscheck to see if their team members have complete a certain task.

Reminding staff to complete a task can be time consuming and irritating. What if you could send an email to all those staff members who haven’t completed the task with a simple click of the button?

In this tutorial, we will learn how to create a Google Apps Script HTML email mail merge service that will send an email to a staff member who has not completed their task, indicated by a missing tick on a tickbox.

We will use the sample sheet below:

the badger Google Sheet

The Google Sheets reminder is triggered by a custom menu item.  You can see it at the top right of the image.

When the reminder is sent, it collects the rows of staff that have not indicated that they have completed the task.  It then sends an email to those staff members  with the reminder below:

HTML Email Reminder Google Apps Script
Get it! Badger! Ha!

As you can see, I’ve added some custom HTML to highlight the header and modify the width of the image. The email contains a number of unique pieces of data gathered from the Google Sheet Row:

  • The name of the user.
  • The deadline.
  • The name of the sheet (In this case, Tester).
  • The number of days overdue.

It also contains a link to the check sheet for the user to update once they have completed their task.

Back at The Badger Google Sheet, an alert window appears once the code is completed and also indicates any emails that could not be sent.

To get started you can Make a Copy of the Google Sheet by following this link:

Continue reading “Google Apps Script: Create an HTML email reminder service from Google Sheet data.”