Add the Editor’s Email when they Tick the Check Box in Google Sheets with Apps Script

This tutorial is for Google Workspace Domain accounts.

Recently, I was a guest interviewee at a Google Workspace Developer Summit in Singapore and an attendee asked me how they could automatically add the editor’s email to an adjacent cell when the user checks a check box in Google Sheets.

This can be incredibly handy for project managers to see when a user completes a task or, at a glance, who edited a row.

Of course, there are some simple ways of doing this out-of-the-box within Google Sheets.

  1. A simple right-click > Show edit history on any cell can reveal who has edited the cell in the past.
    Show cell history in Google Sheets
  2. If you want a more detailed history of edits on your Google Sheet workbook then you can always select the version history button in the top right of your Sheet.

    Google Sheets Version History
    The ‘clock’ icon here opens the version history page.

The problem with these options is that it is not there on the screen for the user to quickly see who edited what line.

In this tutorial, we are going to use some Google Apps Script magic to automatically add the editor’s email to the row when they click that checkbox.

Let’s dive in!

Continue reading “Add the Editor’s Email when they Tick the Check Box in Google Sheets with Apps Script”

How to Sort Tabs in Google Sheets with Google Apps Script

Sometimes your Google Sheet tabs can get out of hand. They can be mixed up and confusing to users. It’s often necessary to simply sort them in ascending or descending order.

In this tutorial, we will use Google Apps Script to sort tabs in Google Sheets. We’ll also use a handy menu bar to quickly run the sort.

The approach below relies on a natural sort. In a normal sort where you also have numbers say:

"2. Cheese", "10. Pizza", "1. Bananas"

Then you ran your sort, you would not get what your expected but rather:

"1. Bananas", "10. Pizza", "2. Cheese"

With a natural sort, we consider the number numerically, rather than as characters. This means our sort would come out as expected:

"1. Bananas", "2. Cheese", "10. Pizza"

You can learn more about creating the Apps Script by following the video below or you can jump down and grab a copy of your code and run it in your own project.

 

You can grab the starter Google Sheet Here:

Sorting Google Sheet Tabs – Starter Sheet 

 

Sort Tabs in Google Sheets – Video

https://youtu.be/a7l6OEkMkIg

The Code

Step 1: In your Google Sheet, Go to Extensions > Apps Script.

Step 2: copy the code from below and paste it into the edits and save.

Step 3: Next, reload the Google Sheet. You will see a menu item called Extras. Click it and you will see your two sort options.

Step 4: Go ahead and click an option.

You should see your tabs being sorted.

Custom Google Sheet tab sort menu

Step 5: You will be prompted to run authorisation of the script the first time the script is run. You can learn more about this here:

Running Google Apps Script for the first time. 

Step 6: Select an option again and you will see the tabs being sorted.

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

Create and Publish a Google Workspace Add-on with Apps Script Course

Need help with Google Workspace development?

My team of experts can help you with all of your needs, from custom app development to integrations and security. We have a proven track record of success in helping businesses of all sizes get the most out of Google Workspace.

Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your needs and get started or learn more about our services here.

Code Breakdown

onOpen()

The onOpen() function is a Google Apps Script simple trigger that runs automatically when the user opens the Google Sheet.

Line 5: In our example, we call the Spreadsheet App UI class, so that we can build the menu.

Line 8: To create a menu we use the Create Menu method and add the menu label “Extras” as an argument.

Lines 9-10: Next, we can add menus to the main menu header with the Add Item method. These menus take a menu label and then a function or an object method that will run when the menu is selected. Ensure that you don’t include parentheses in these arguments and contain them in a string.

Line 11: Finally, we need to build the menu by adding all the menu items to the UI.

You can learn more about building menus in Google Sheets, Docs and Slides here:

How to build a menu item in Google Sheets

The Sheet Tab Sorter object

The tabSorter object contains 3 properties:

  • ascending
  • descending
  • sortTab

Ascending and Descending Property Methods

Both of these property methods run the sortTabs method providing either true for ascending or false for descending as the argument.

We need to encapsulate these method calls inside their own anonymous functions so that they don’t run automatically when the menu is loaded.

ascending: function(){this.sortTabs(true)},
descending: function(){this.sortTabs(false)},

The sort Google Sheet Tabs machine (sortTabs)

The sortTabs property does all the heavy lifting in this object.

It takes a boolean as an argument that will determine if the sort is ascending or descending.

Get a list of sheets

Our first task is to get an array containing all the Google Sheets in the currently active sheet. We can do this with the SpreadSheet App Get Sheets method. This will contain an array with all the methods available for each found sheet tab.

Using Intl Collator for natural sorting

We want to sort our sheet tabs naturally just in case we have numbers in the name of the tab (e.g. “1”, “2”, “4. Cake”). We can do this with the JavaScript Intl.Collator object to sort the sheet tabs in a natural order, meaning that numeric values are sorted in numerical order and text values are sorted alphabetically. You can modify this function to use a different sorting algorithm or change the sorting order.

Line 2: Here, we create a new Intl.Collator constructor. The first optional parameter of the constructor defines the locale or language tab. We don’t need this option, so we set it to ‘undefined’.

The second parameter sets the options for the collator.

Line 3: First, we use the numeric property and set it to true. This will allow us to order the numbers properly so that 1 < 2 <10.

Line 4: Secondly, we set the sensitivity to base. This means that we do not take into account any accents or other markings on letter characters. If you are using this Google Sheets sort tab code in other languages, then you might want to modify this.

Sort Google Sheet tabs Apps Script-side

Now that we have our collator set up we use the JavaScript sort method to sort through the array of sheet names.

Line 2: Here, we use an arrow function with a standard a, b parameter set. These parameters refer to the first and second elements of comparison respectively.

Line 3: Use our collator and apply the compare method to compare the sheet names against each other.

Reversing the sort

If isAscending parameter of the sortTabs method is set to false, then we use JavaScript reverse() to reverse the array order of the sheetNames.

Updating the Google Sheet tabs to the desired order

Finally, once our array is in the desired order we need to update the Google Sheet with the new tab order.

Line 2: First, we loop through the sheet names array with the JavaScript forEach() method.

Line  3: Inside each loop, we need to set the active sheet to the currently iterated sheet.

Line 4: Finally, we move the active sheet to the next position in the sheet tabs. Note that sheet indexes start from one (1) however our array index starts from zero (0). This is why we need to add one to the index.

 

That’s all there is to it.

If you want to learn more about how to modify Google sheets tabs with Apps Script, check out these tutorials:

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

Performance of Google Apps Script Text Finder Class on 2 Approaches to Searching Large Datasets

Inspired by research into a recent blog post, the Google Apps Script Text Finder Class’ Find All (findAll()) and Find Next (findNext()) methods were benchmarked over two different datasets containing 50,000 rows. The first dataset contained 1,000 cells matching the search text. The second dataset contained 100 matching cells.

For each dataset, a test was conducted to retrieve either the first 10 matching cells or the first 100 matching cells. The Find All and Find Next approaches were tested and compared on each test.

It was expected that Find Next would perform best on the condition where the dataset contained a large number of found items and only a small number of first cells needed to be reported. The benchmark results suggest that this hypothesis is most likely.

First number of cells to retrieve Test Function Avg. run time over 100 runs. Fastest Function Fastest Avg. Time Avg. time Difference
1000 items to find
10
1
v2 findAll 1626.24 v3 findNext 1368.45 257.79
v3 findNext 1368.45
50
2
v2 findAll 1578.19 v2 findAll 1578.19 4993.61
v3 findNext 6571.8
100 items to find
10
3
v2 findAll 360.94 v2 findAll 360.94 975.16
v3 findNext 1336.1
50
4
v2 findAll 377.13 v2 findAll 377.13 6175.59
v3 findNext 6552.72

Table: The average time in milliseconds of 100 runs of each test of Apps Script Text Finder findAll() and findNext() methods. Image link for mobile-friendly viewers.

Method

Sample Data

Two columns of data 50,000 rows deep were generated for this test. Each cell in each column consisted of a number; either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. An equal spread of numbers 1 through 4 where added to each row. Each column differs by the number of 5s in each row:

  • Col A: 1,000 5’s
  • Col B: 100 5’s

Each column was then selected and randomised with: Data > Randomise range.

Test

Two functions are compared to test their performance based on four test conditions based on 100 runs of each test:

  1. Retrieve the first 10 cells containing the search text where the range contains 1,000 matching search items.
  2. Retrieve the first 50 cells containing the search text where the range contains 1,000 matching search items.
  3. Retrieve the first 10 cells containing the search text where the range contains 100 matching search items.
  4. Retrieve the first 50 cells containing the search text where the range contains 100 matching search items.

The time in milliseconds was recorded using the JavaScript Date.now() method before and after the functions were run. The difference in time in milliseconds was then appended to an array and added to a Google Sheet column for each test type. This culminated in 8 sets of 100 results.

The average of each test was then recorded and used to compare performance.

Note: Performance.now() is not available in Google Apps Script. 

Code

All code and results can be found copied from this sheet:

Analysis of Google Apps Script Create Finder Class Retrieve n found values

To explore the code and run your own independent tests, make a copy of the Google Sheet: File > Make a copy.

More detailed breakdowns of the code for each test function can be found in the source tutorial.

Note! There is no v1. The version numbers refer to the tutorial related to this post.

Main Test RUN

This function ran all the test conditions. Modify colPastePosition to add the culminated times to the desired columns. Then uncomment the desired run.

test_v2 – Google Apps Script Text Finder Class- findAll()

Code breakdown can be found here: link.

This function retrieves the full list of all found cells using the findAll() method from the Text Finder Class. All available found items in the range are then stored in the found variable.

It then relies on a for-loop to iterate through each cell and collect the cell location using the Spreadsheet App Class’ range getA1Notation method. Each cell location is then stored in the locations variable as an array item before returning the array to the initialising function.

The for-loop breaks when the total number of required cell items (the position) equal the index variable (i) in the loop.

test_v3 – Google Apps Script Text Finder Class- findNext()

Code breakdown can be found here: link.

In this function, a call is made to the spreadsheet to retrieve the found cell value each time findNext() method of the Text Finder Class is called. On each iteration, the getA1Notation method is used to retrieve the cell location. This location is then stored as an array value in the locations variable before being returned to the initiating function.

The function used a while-loop to iterate through each next item found until the counter – or the number of required cells to collect – is reached.

Results & Discussion

Analysis of Google Apps Script Create Finder Class Retrieve n found values
Performance in Milliseconds to Retrieve the first 10 or 50 Matching Values over a 50,000 Row Range Contain Either 1000 or 100 Matchable items Using the Google Apps Script Spreadsheet App Finder Class.

Test 1: Retrieve the first 10 cells containing the search text where the range contains 1,000 matching search items.

Version 3 –findNext() performed better on average when there were 1000 potential items to find in the range but only the first 10 items need to be selected. Versions 3’s average speed was 1368.45ms compared to version 2’s average run speed of 1826.24ms. This is a performance increase of 257.79ms for version 3.

Version 2’s lower performance is likely due to needing to collect all available found cells before it can extract the top 10 items.

Version 3, makes 10 calls to the Google Sheets in this example. Compared to version 2, this takes relatively less time than collecting all available found cell references to the search item.

TEST 1: 1,000 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 10 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.
TEST 1: 1,000 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 10 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.

Test 2: Retrieve the first 50 cells containing the search text where the range contains 1,000 matching search items.

Version 2 – findAll() performed significantly better over 100 runs than version 3 when retrieving the top 50 found cells from a possible 1000. Version 2 was, on average, 4993.61ms faster at an average runtime of 1578.19ms compared to version 3’s sluggish 6571.80ms average.

It was expected that test one and test two’s times for version 2 would be similar and there are only 48.05ms between their average runtimes.

Version 3’s poor performance is likely due to its reliance on calling the spreadsheet to collect the cell data on all 50 calls it needs to make.

TEST 2: 1,000 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 50 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.
TEST 2: 1,000 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 50 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.

Test 3: Retrieve the first 10 cells containing the search text where the range contains 100 matching search items.

Version 2, again, performed better by 975.16ms than version 3 when there was a smaller potential number of items to find in the range and only the first ten items need to be retrieved.

Here the performance margin between the two versions was closer than in the previous test. Version 2’s average run speed was 360.94ms while version 3’s runtime was 1336.10ms.

With a smaller number of retrieved items, the version 2 findAll() function did not have to work as hard to collect the methods related to each range it collects. Whereas version 3 still needed to make 10 performance-intensive calls back to the Google Sheet each time with relatively no performance change to test one.

TEST 3: 100 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 10 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.
TEST 3: 100 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 10 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.

Test 4: Retrieve the first 50 cells containing the search text where the range contains 100 matching search items.

Predictably, version 2 – findAll() performed the best when the expected match sample is small (100 available matches) and the total first set of cells to retrieve was relatively large (50).

Version 2’s average completion time was 377.13ms compared to version 3’s average of 6552.72ms, performing on average 6175.59ms faster. This is by far the largest margin on performance between the two versions.

Here again, version 3 must perform 50 calls to the Google Sheet, each one retrieving the cell range data. Alternatively, version 2 makes one call to the spreadsheet and then retrieves the cell data for all collected values. This is significantly faster than version 3’s approach.

TEST 4: 100 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 50 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.
TEST 4: 100 randomised items to find in 50,000. Return first 50 matches using v2-findAll and v3-findNext functions.

Overall

On datasets that may have the potential to contain a large number of matching items, but fewer required results to return, version 3 may be the best option. In all other cases, version 2 is the most optimal approach to finding data in a range.

It is important to note that it can be difficult to accurately measure performance with Apps Script runs because resource allocation to run a script does seem to vary. Nevertheless, with a sample size of 100 runs, it is hoped that average values will be more accurate than a smaller sample.

Grab Your Own Copy of the Google Sheet and Attached Code here

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

Create and Publish a Google Workspace Add-on with Apps Script Course

Need help with Google Workspace development?

My team of experts can help you with all of your needs, from custom app development to integrations and security. We have a proven track record of success in helping businesses of all sizes get the most out of Google Workspace.

Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your needs and get started or learn more about our services here.

~Yagi

 

Find first, last & nth value in a Google Sheets range with Apps Script

In this tutorial, we will explore how to find the first and last values in a Google Sheets Range using Google Apps Script. Then we will modify our code to find a value at a specific location. We will then find the position of the first set of values in our Google Sheets range. Lastly, we will create a reusable function to find the first or last set of values in a range.

This tutorial accompanies the YouTube tutorial of the same name:

The starter sheet for the video tutorial:

Starter Sheet

The code for each section of the tutorial can be found below under each section header along with any explanation, where needed.

In our previous tutorial, we covered how to find all values in a Google Sheet, a sheet table or a range. Check it out here:

Find All Values in Google Sheets with Apps Script


The Runsies Function

This is an example function that you can use to run your find functions below. All arguments for the functions below are placed in here along with the execution of the desired function.

In the example below we are running the first function.

 

Find the first value or text in a Google Sheets Range using Apps Scripts FindAll method

In this approach, we make use of our previous tutorial’s script and use the findAll method of the createTextFinder Class.

This method returns an array for each found item that can access the Google Apps Script range class methods.

Line 15 – Once all items in the range are found, we can select the zeroeth item. Incidentally, we could get the last item in the range with this approach by modifying this line to:

const lastVal = foundValue[foundValue.length - 1];

Of course, you would need to update the variable names too.

Line 17 – Here we log the cell position of the first found item using the SpreadsheetApp Range Class getA1Notation method.

Line 19 – Finally to make it easier to test. We set our selected cell value to activate. This makes the cell active and makes it easy for us to crosscheck in our testing. It also has the benefit of navigating the user on the Google Sheet to the desired cell. Check out the image below for an example:

Find first value in a Google Sheets Range with apps script and activate it

Note! This approach can be much, much slower than the next option, particularly if your text finder discovers a lot of cells.

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

Find the first value or text in a Google Sheets Range using the iterator method

A much more common approach to finding the first position of the matching value is using the findNext() iterator method of the Text Finder Class.

This is considerably faster on large datasets where you expect to find many occurrences of the found item. Why? Because, the find-all approach will collect all cells containing the value, whereas findNext() will only collect the next value to be found.

Line 13 – Here we replace findAll() with findNext().

Find the last value or text in Google Sheets Range

In this example, we swap the findNext() method with the findPrevious() method.

Interestingly, if we call the find previous method straight after creating the text finder, It will look for the first item starting in reverse order. This means it will start its search from the bottom of the range.

 

Find the position of the nth value in a Google Sheets Range with Apps Script

Here we want to find the nth value in a range. Perhaps the 3rd value or the 10th.

Lines 14-15-  In this function, we return the findAll() method and then identify the position of the value in the selectedVal array.

Line 12 – Note that we will need to subtract one from our position value here before we can use it to find the value in the array. Remember, the array will start at zero.

 

Find the first n values in a Google Sheets Range

In this scenario, we want to find a starting set of values from our range. Maybe we want to grab the top 3 found cells or the first 5.

Line 15 – Here we use the findAll() method again to get a list of all values in the range.

Line 19-29 – Next, we will use a JavaScript ‘for’ loop to iterate over the found cells. We will need to store all the found A1 notation locations in a locations variable on line 19.

Line  25 – On each iteration, we will append the locations with our new cell value.

Line 28 – However, if the index (i) matches the same number as the position variable then we want to break our loop.

 

Find the first or last values of a selected number in a Google Sheets Range

Finally, we have two functions here. Both functions allow you to find either the first set or last set or cells where the search term is found. Their usage really depends upon the type of data that you are working with.

Both functions take 4 arguments:

  1. sheetName – The name of the sheet tab.
  2. text – The text to search.
  3. n – The number of found cells to collect.
  4. reverse (optional) – If true, conduct the search in reverse.

Again, both functions will return an array containing all found cell locations in A1-notation.

Checkout the post below for a detailed benchmark analysis of each function:

Performance of Google Apps Script Text Finder Class on 2 Approaches to Searching Large Datasets

 

Find All Approach

This approach is more performant when you don’t expect to find a lot of matching cells in a large range. It is also suitable if you want to extract a larger list of items starting from the beginning or end of the range.

Why? Because if there are a large number of found variables then the findAll method will take more time to collect the full list of ALL cell locations before we can continue and select the ones we want. Whereas if we use the next option using findNext or findPrevious then each item will be retrieved one at a time, making the second option more performant.

Alternatively, if we want to retrieve say the first 100 items, then the first item would be a better approach. This is because we only make one call to the Google Sheet instead of 100 which is a much slower approach.

Line 16 – Here, we use the findAll() method again.

Line 22 – Note the if-statement here that checks if the reverse parameter is set to true.

Line 24 – If we want to start the search from the bottom of the range, we first set a counter to zero.

Line 25 – Then we run a reverse for loop, starting from the bottom of the found array.

Line 29 – If we find a cell we add it to the locations list like in our previous example.

Lines 31-33 – Finally, we update the counter and then check the counter count against n and break the look if we have a match.

Lines 36 -46 – If there is not reverse argument or the argument is set to false then we want to start our search from the top of the range. Here, we use the same for-loop as the previous chapter.

 

Find Next or Previous Approach

This approach performs better in a large range when there the range contains many found cells, but you may only need to collect only a few of the first or last proceeding items.

Line 15 – To start our search, we only initialise the text finder class.

Line 17 – Set our empty location array.

Line 18 – Creates a counter base on the number (n) of found cell locations that we want to retrieve.

Line 20 – Next, we generate JavaScript while loop to finish once the counter reaches 1. The loop will either find the next or find the previous cell range.

Line 22 – We set the found variable to receive the cell location.

Lines 24-28 – If we have set the item to be reversed we use the findPrevious method and collect each cell location.

Lines 29-34 – Alternatively, we will use the findNext method if reverse is set to false or not included.

Line 36 – Next, we push the cell reference to the locations array.

Line 28 – The last task in the loop is to decrease our counter by one.

Line 43 – Outside our loop, we return the locations array back to the initiating function.

 

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

Create and Publish a Google Workspace Add-on with Apps Script Course

Need help with Google Workspace development?

My team of experts can help you with all of your needs, from custom app development to integrations and security. We have a proven track record of success in helping businesses of all sizes get the most out of Google Workspace.

Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your needs and get started or learn more about our services here.

Sort and randomize data in Google Sheets with Apps Script

You might want to sort some Google Sheet data based on a condition in your Google Apps Script or simply sort by selected columns and rows after inserting a new row.

If you are always building sample data for tutorials like me, you might also be interested in randomising your data programmatically.

Fortunately, Google Apps Script’s SpreadsheetApp Class has built-in methods to handle just that for you. Plus it’s super easy to implement.

Check out the video tutorial below or grab one of the code snippets to add into your own project.

Continue reading “Sort and randomize data in Google Sheets with Apps Script”