Google Apps Script: Store a Unique User Key from a User Accessing your WebApp

Google Apps Script: WebApp

In this tutorial, we will cover how you can get a unique temporary access key from a user accessing your WebApp that lasts for 30 days.

Temporary access keys allow you to track users as they use your WebApp over time while still providing anonymity to the user by providing only an access key to that user. Rather than, say, use their name or email address.

Why is this important? Well, you might want to limit the number of times a user submits a form on your WebApp. If you can get a user’s access key unique to them then you can store the number of attempts by the user and check it before the data is submitted.

For example, in a previous post, we created a chain story that we might want to limit the number of times our users contribute to our story to once a day.

NOTE! This tutorial is pretty much standalone. However, it will require some basic knowledge of Google Apps Script WebApp and HTML. Don’t worry if some basic setup parts are not covered in this tutorial, I’ll link to how to do these bits if you need some more instruction.

Let’s take a look at what we are going to make:

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Creating an embedded interactive Chain Story app with Google Apps Script and Google Sheets

Google Apps Script: WebApp, HtmlService, LockService; Google Sheets

In this tutorial, we are going to create an interactive story chain app that we can embed into a Google Site or your own site like WordPress.

What’s a chain story, Yagi? 

Maybe you did this in school. Someone wrote the first part of a story. You then gave that story to someone else to continue writing. They then pass the story onto someone else to write the next part. And so on and so forth. In the end, the story is read out and everyone laughs at the direction the story went – except that one kid silently raging of their lack of control of the narrative.

Why are we making this? How’s it going to help me?

Well, for one, I thought it would be fun. More importantly, this will allow us to have a look at how Google Apps Scripts communicates client to server-side and vice versa in a little more advanced environment than our previous tutorial. It will also give us an opportunity to look at some more parts of Google Apps Script as they relate to creating a WebApp.

Our chain story WebApp tutorial will also give us an opportunity to look at some of the pitfalls of using WebaApp. Particularly when using the execute as me permissions. Finally, this will then launch us into our follow up tutorial on updating the WebApp to execute as the user rather than me, the owner of the app.

This tutorial is the second part of the WebApp series. However, if you can read a bit of JS, CSS and HTML, you should be able to follow along and if you get stuck you can always go back to the first tutorial:

Google Apps Script: How to create a basic interactive interface with Web Apps

Let’s get started…

The Example: An interactive chain story

Embedded below is our interactive Chain Story web app. If you are feeling creative, read the story so far and then add your part to the story. It has been written by readers just like you:

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Google Apps Script: How to create a basic interactive interface with Web Apps

Google Apps Script: Web Apps

Did you know that you can easily create an interactive webpage web app that you can embed in your own website or your Google Workspace domain for internal use with your organisation with Google Apps Script?

Perhaps you want to create a small online app using resources you have in your Google workspace, like Google Sheets or BigQuery.

Maybe the functionality of Google Forms is not enough and you want to build a custom form for something like a seat booking form with a way for users to register a bunch of participants and immediately see if there are seats available. Or create a form where each answer creates a new set of questions that you want to add to a Google Sheet in our own way.

What if you wanted to road test a new app idea and want to use the development speed of Google Apps Script to get a proof of concept up and running in a flash?

Fortunately for you, Google Apps Script has you covered with the ability to deploy Web Apps.

Even if you have been working in the Google Apps Script environment for a while, getting started on Web Apps can be a bit of a daunting task. It’s just that little bit different that it can make you apprehensive at first. However, let me tell you that once you master the few basics, you will be smashing out Web Apps in no time.

In this tutorial, we will go over the very basics of creating your very first Web App. Don’t worry it will be a little bit more useful and interactive than a “Hello World” app. We will get the user to enter a value client-side. Then send it server-side for calculation and then return it back for display client-side.

Let’s take a look at what we are going to build:

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