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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Google Apps Script – Adding a Unique ID in a Cell on Edit of an Adjacent Cell Using Time

Google Apps Script, onEdit, Date, Google Sheets

Here is the scenario. You have a small business and you want to store your customers, products and sales information on separate Google sheets.

You’re probably going to have someone from your staff enter new customers, products are sales transactions.

We know if we get them to enter unique ID’s in manually that mistakes are going to get made. So how about we automate this process with unique ID’s based on date-timestamps.

uniqueID DateTimestamp Google Sheets

Why use a date-timestamp to create a unique ID?

Every year is unique. Every day, hour, minute, second and millisecond of that year creates a unique number. This mean that a new unique id will be create every millisecond for us.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Yagi! Just hold it one damn minute! You could  have multiple results each millisecond that would each be the same number!

Well, true if we were running a loop generating and publishnig our date-timestamp, we could have multiple numbers. However, we are generating this unique ID as an onEdit function when the user adds some information in Google Sheets to a cell and an adjacent cell  returns our unique number.

The user’s input and then the calls to and from the server to the Google Sheet will be sufficiently slow enough not to have a number generated multiple times a millisecond, so we are safe there.

We have the main idea of what we are planning, let’s move onto the example.

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