I hired a Google Apps Script developer and they delivered unreadable code. What’s going on?

A few days ago I got an update from a Google Apps Script group that I subscribe to. The poster shared a jumble unreadable single-line mess of code with a message that read something similar to:

I hired a Google Apps Script developer and they shared me this. It works, but it is unreadable. What should I do?

Obfuscated Code Google Apps Script
Google Apps Script code that has been intentionally obfuscated. Click to expand!

It looked like the poster’s code has been deliberately obfuscated or obscured to make it difficult for someone to read. The code solves the problem for the client and runs as it should. It’s just near impossible to read or edit without seeing the original source code.

Picket lines were formed in the comments section of the post and salvos ensued. It wasn’t a Reddit-level skirmish, but it was getting there before it ran out of steam.

The post and the ensuing comments did raise some good points of view that are well worth considering as a freelance Google Apps Script developer or as someone who plans to hire a developer.

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Why Object.create() doesn’t work in Google Apps Script and how to fix it.

If you have found this post while searching to try to figure out why your JavaScript Object.create() method is being a big stupid head isn’t working how you would expect it would in Google Apps Script, you have come to the right place.

You’ve probably used Object.create() in a JavaScript project in the past to create a new object based on a template object and then added another property or so to it.

As you can see in the example above, it works just dandy in JavaScript. The original object "a" is not affected if we add a new property to the "newObj" object.

However, if you try and do the same thing in Google Apps Script, as you have no doubt discovered, you will get the following results:

So what’s going on? What can I do to fix this? Read on or select from the menu to get to the bits you are interested in.

Some Solutions

Spread Syntax to the rescue

With the modernisation of Google Apps Script with their introduction of the V8 runtime back in February of 2020, we can now use the JavaScript Spread Syntax ({...obj})to create a shallow clone of the original object (a.k.a object literal).

This is my favourite approach. It is quite neat and elegant, but perhaps not as explicit in its meaning for someone reviewing your code.

If you create a new object and add a property to it

Dam it! Now I’ve got that Beyonce song in my head. ✔💍*

Let’s fix the original code with our spread syntax.

You can see on line 5 we have a nice neat spread syntax to add to your "newObj" object. This shallow clone of "a" allows us to keep the original object unchanged while importing the properties into the new object.

Just like on line 6, we can now add new properties to our new object without fear of updating the original source object, "a".

*Just when you thought the humour couldn’t set a lower standard, the goat’s gone subterranean.

Joining two objects together in Google Apps Script

Probably the most useful part of using the spread operator is that we can join or concatenate two objects together.

In our next example, we will join objects "a" and "b" together to form one new object with our spread syntax. To do this we simply separate the two objects by a comma and use the spread syntax on both.

As you can see, "c" has now combined "a" and "b" successfully while both "a" and "b" still maintain their individuality.

Adding an object to an existing object in Google Apps Script

One final thing you might find useful is to concatenate one or more objects to an existing object. We can do this with the Object. assign() method. This method takes a target object as its first parameter and then any number of objects as its subsequent parameters.

Adding one object to another.

Let’s say if I wanted to add all of "a"‘s properties to "b". It would look a little something like this:

As you can see, object "b" now has the properties of "a", but if we change the "name" property of "b" to something else, then "a" will not be affected.

Adding multiple objects to an existing object.

Likewise, we can add multiple objects to an existing object with the Object.assign() method.  In the next example, we will make a copy of "a", "b" and "c" objects and join it to object "d".

As you have probably guessed by now, objects, "a","b" and "c" are not affected by the Object.assign() but now "d" has assimilated a copy of the properties of the other objects.

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? Make an enquiry on my ‘Hire me!’ page. I occasionally pick up projects. Alternatively, Fiverr’s your best bet to find a skilled Google Apps Script developer to solve your problem quickly and professionally. *

*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.

The video.

What’s going on?

Well, I found a relatively obscure reference to the reason why Object.create() performs how we expect it to in StackOverflow that was answered by a former legendary member of the Google Apps Script team, Corey Goldfeder.

Corey informs us that in Google Apps Script when objects are passed to Object.create() method, the properties of the original object are non-enumerable by default. This means that they cannot be explicitly iterated through with a for…in loop inside the create() method.

Corey goes on to say that Object.create() uses the Object.defineProperties() syntax which, unless the enumerable property is explicitly defined previously, will be defined as non-enumerable and not be added to the newly created object.

You could resolve or test this by explicitly defining the enumerability of each property in "a" as true which would then give you the result you were expecting.

Note the changes to the object 'a' and the parameters in the create method (Line 6).


That’s it for creating new objects based on existing objects in Google Apps Script. I would love to know how you used this code or if you have another approach. Feel free to share your ideas or questions in the comments below.

If you found the tutorial, useful why not shout me a cuppa.


How to Validate Specific Users on a Web App in Google Apps Scripts

You’ve created an awesome Google Apps Script web app for your secret society within your Google Workspace organisation or …dom! dom! DOM! … the world. The problem is that you only want to share your web app with the worthy. Those selected few. 🐐🛐🛐🛐

How do you do this? How to prevent this most coveted of apps from reaching the wrong hands?

It’s actually surprisingly simple.

In this tutorial, we will explore how to validate selected users to provide access to your web app. For our example, we validate users based on whether or not they have edit access to a Google Drive file ( a common occurrence). In the discussion, we will also look at alternative ways of validating emails.

One of the bonuses of the approach we will go through is that it can also be easily adapted for use in Google Workspace Add-ons, and Editor Add-ons like sidebars and dialogue boxes.

We’ll start off with an example and then move to a quick-use guide for those of you who just want to get in and apply the code to your own project. Then for those who want to know how it all works, I’ll dive into the details.

Let’s get started!

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List All Users in an Organisation’s Google Workspace Account with Google Apps Script

Note! This tutorial is for Google Workspace for organisations and not the free consumer account, unfortunately. 

While the Google Apps Script docs provide a great example of how to get a list of users in a Domain on a Google Workspace account, it is not in the scope of the documentation to go into the weeds and explain all the ways we can search for all users.

Weeds sound much more like the purview of a goat. A coding goat, perhaps 🐐. Me. I’m talking about me…yeesh!

In this tutorial, we will cover how to access your Google Workspace organisation’s user data, what data you can retrieve and how it looks, who can retrieve it and a couple of ways to display what you need.

This post is intended as a resource reference that compliments the Google Docs on the Admin SDK. Links to the Google documentation are provided throughout the post. It is worth a bookmark if you intend on using the Admin SDK a lot in Google Apps Script.

Use the contents page to navigate to what you need.

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Get a list of Google Shared Drives by ID and Name in Google Apps Script

If your organisation is using Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise, or one of the other supported plans, you are likely taking advantage of the power of Google’s Shared Drives.

If you have decided to create a Google Apps Script project that needs to get a list of your Shared Drive (or a user’s shared drives in the case of a WebApp), then you might be scratching your head right now wondering how to get this list using the built-in DriveApp class.

Whelp, unfortunately, at the time of writing this article the DriveApp class does not have this functionality. However, it is pretty easy to access in a single line of code using an Advance API.

Here’s what you need to do:

As always, read what you need and skip the rest. 

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