Google Apps Script – How to make a Custom Function to Use in Google Sheets

Google Apps Script

Google Sheets has a vast library of functions (or formulas) you can use to get your Spreadsheet tasks done. However, there are some instances when you want a specific function that is not available in Google Sheets or want to make a simplified version of some combined function to make life easier for your users. Fortunately, Google has your back with Google Apps Script.

Before we start, Google does a pretty great job explaining the basics of creating a custom function. However, when it comes to explaining how to add all that information that goes into a function when you type it into Sheets it is a bit vague.

Custom Function Decorators Google Apps Script

Let’s look at the creation process through a recent example I created:

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Google Sheets – Random Alphabetic, Random Alphanumeric and Random Alphanumeric + Character Custom Functions

Google Sheets, Google Apps Script

I was working on a Spreadsheet in Google Sheets a few days ago and needed to generate some random codes for my users. To do this, I just used the RANDBETWEEN(start val, end val) function built into Google Sheets.

It goes a little like this. If I want to build a 5 digit random number I would:

RANDBETWEEN Google Sheets

But this got me wondering. Is there a function for random Alphabetic strings or Alphanumeric strings or Alphanumeric with Character strings. The answer?

via GIPHY

 

No…

So instead I decided to make a custom function with Google Apps Script to do this job for me…

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Google Apps Script – How to Find the Folder ID of a Non-Unique Folder Using File Path Names

Google Apps Script

sighisoara Google Apps Script Tutorial
This tutorial comes from a comfy spot in the center of Sighisoara.

Well, that title is such a mouthful. So I think it needs some explaining…

I’ve recently come across a tasks that requires me to access a particular folder in a directory based on the information in a google Sheet. This means:

  1. I don’t have the folder or the sub-folder ID.
  2. I can get the directory path information from information supplied in a Google Sheet.

Basically what I needed to do was create a Report maker and store it in the following directory path:

My Drive(root) >> Year >>  Quarter >> Unit+ "Report"

For example:

MyDrive >> 2018 >> Q4  >> Unit 4 Report

Boring!!!! Take me to the code!!!

The Problem

Unfortunately, I could not simply change the last folder name from say, Unit 4 Report to Q4 Unit 4 Report 2018 so it is easily searchable and unique. The other problem is that there are other Unit 4 Reports in other years and quarters so I did not want to accidentally call them instead of the exact one I wanted.

So, what to do..?

The Solution

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Google Apps Script – How to Create Folders in Directories with DriveApp

Google Apps Script – DriveApp

Well, it’s  a rainy day here travelling in Romania, so time for a post.

coding in Romania
Relaxing in a cafe in Cluj Napoca, Romaina on a Rainy. I love this country!!!

When creating a Google Apps Script’s I often find I am creating new folders and files in specific locations on Google Drive after, say, generating a report or something.

A Note on Folders in Google Drive

All files and folders in Google Drive are allocated a unique key that identifies them.

Google Drive Folder ID

The file location and all the data about the file is mapped to this ID. This means you can have as many folders or files with the same name even in the same directory without a duplicate error being thrown because they all have their own unique ID for their URL.

Getting Started

More often than not, I know the parent folder that I want to put my sub folders in. This means I can get the parent folder’s ID and use that as my starting point to add sub folders. To do this we use the DriveApp class.

Below are three useful functions for creating folders.

  • Simple – Create a folder under the Parent folder ID – Duplicates are not checked and there can be multiple sub folders with the same name but all have their own  unique id.
  • Medium – Create a folder only if that folder name does not exists in the Parent folder – No folder is created if the folder already exists.
  • Hard-ish – Create a folder. If the name exists, add a counter to the name – If the file already exists then add a counter to the end of the file name.

All the functions will take two arguments: folderID – the unique id of the parent folder and folderName – the name you want to call your new folder.

The start() function will simply grab the two variables for the folderID and folderName and run the folder creation function. This is to simulate using the functions in your code.

Feel free to read what you need. I try and write these for a wide range of coding skill in mind.

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How to Hide a Row based on a Cell Value in Google Sheets with Filter or Google Apps Script.

Google Sheets, Google Apps Script

Sometimes, when you are working on a shared Google Sheet you might want to hide a row based on a cell value.

For example, perhaps we don’t want to see row information of orders that have been paid for. Take a look at my D&D miniatures wholesale orders sheet (image below). I know I don’t need to follow up the orders that have been paid, marked with a ‘Yes’ in column F, so I don’t want to see them on my sheet.

We want to hide the "Yes" - Google Sheets

We can hide these two ways:

  1. Create a filter.
  2. Google Apps Script onEdit() trigger.

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Google Apps Script – Copy and Paste Cells While Retaining Column Width in Google Sheets.

Google Apps Script

Have you ever copied and pasted something in Google Sheets only to be frustrated with the fact that it stubbornly refuses to paste the column widths? I mean, everything else is perfect, the formatting, the formulas the comments, they all were pasted across just fine. However, that dastardly column width just does not budge.

copied Google Sheet
When you want to copy and paste this…
Paste without column widths.
…but you get this.

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Google Apps Script – How to create Javascript and CSS files for a Sidebar Project in Google Apps Script

Google Apps Script-templates, Javascript, CSS

So, I started working on a larger Google Sheet Sidebar project in Google Apps Script recently and I quickly realised that it was going to be a mess if I didn’t separate my Javascript, CSS and even some of my HTML into separate files. However, if you have ever noticed in the script editor that there is no way for you to add script or style files to the code. Your only two options are Google Script files *.gs and Html files *.html.

Project File Types - Google Apps Script

Then, what’s the trick?

The trick is to create separate html files for your CSS and Javascript and include or import them into your main html file. Unfortunately, you can’t do this with the standard:

HtmlService.createHtmlOutputFromFile(filename)

Instead, we will need to use the templating method:

html = HtmlService.createTemplateFromFile(filename)

We will  get into a little more detail on templates later in this tutorial.

My main reference for this was the Google Apps Script UI best practice guide, and you will see code snippets of the first example there that I have modified for my own example.

The thing is, the explanations were a bit vague for me to work out clearly so I really needed to create an example of my own to work through how to use it. The example below breaks down the steps to create file relationships to make your code look neater. It also dives into some uses of template statements in html.

The Final Result

The goal of our little sidebar project will be to display a sidebar with colored paragraph text, a list generated with Javascript and a randomly assigned body page the contain the text “Body 1” or “Body 2”.

Take a look at the demo:

Sidebar Example - Google Apps Script

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Google Apps Script – How to Alternate Colors in an Ordered List by Column Category. 

Google Apps Script and Google Sheets

Imagine that you have a Google Sheet that you have sorted by a certain column. You might be sorting by the surname of your sales team, class sections or regions. To make the sheet easier to read for your team, you want to alternate the background colors after each category in your sort column is complete.

The Example

I have the following list of numbers in column 1 and 2. I have sorted these numbers by my Grouping Column of planets in column 3. After each grouping, I have alternated the background color to make the transition easier to read.

Alternating color by section - Google Apps Script

The Code

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Google Apps Script – Get the Start Row and Length of Each Category in an Ordered Column in Google Sheets

Google Apps Script and Google Sheets

Quite often I will need to get the range of each category in an item and do something with it in Google Sheets. For example, I work in education, I will often have rows of students that are categorized by class sections. I will then be asked to do something like those sections like put each section of students in their own sheet or set alternating colors for each section to make the sheet easier to read.

Alternatively, you may want to grab sales data by region or sales items by a particular category and work with them in Google Apps Script.

The Example

Let’s say we want to get the range values of the follow sheet by planets. We will be categorizing our data by the Grouping, column C.

Grouping By Planet - Google Apps Script

First we don’t want to take into account the headers on the first row. Our first grouping will be Mars, followed by Jupiter, Uranus and Mercury. We want to know which column that each category starts on and how many of that category there are.

The Code

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Set the Paper Size and Orientation in a Doc Using Google Apps Script

Sometimes you need to prepare a Google Doc’s paper size and orientation programatically using Google Apps Script.

Unfortunately, you can’t just call for say, A4 in Landscape. Okay, not until now (see my code below).

Google Apps Script does provide a way to set the dimensions of your page  in the body class by using:

  • setPageWidth(pageWidth)
  • setPageHeight(pageHeight)

The page widths and heights are measured in PostScripts Points which is a bit of a pain too.

Here is an example of setting and A3 paper size in Landscape.

Ugh. What a chore. You need to find the dimensions of the paper in points.

Enter this little nifty function and your life will be so much easier:

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