Unapologetically Pro-spreadsheet

Unapologetically Pro-spreadsheet

I have all the swag. An “I have a spreadsheet for that” tee—a “freak in the sheets” mug. Not a day goes by when you don’t open a Google Sheet, whether for stuff at home or work. I even gave an impromptu talk at MeasureCamp New York called “Cool things with Google Sheets.” And based on some of the fun ideas I heard, I’m not alone. 

Yet spreadsheets, and especially Google Sheets, get a bad rap. Many senior developers think they are inferior to “just programming it.” Yet many organizations don’t necessarily have the immediate digital infrastructure or skillset to do that. 

Spreadsheets are instantly recognizable and, if put together properly, almost instantly usable for most individuals. Today’s spreadsheet programs are not your Grandpa’s Visicalc. I primarily work in Google Sheets, which has some incredibly powerful formulas allow you to use RegEx and Query using a SQL-like query language. Is it slower? Heck yeah. I know it’s not meant to work for 10 million rows of data. But in most of my use cases, I use it. Right Now. 

When I started taking on more programmatic pieces of a Google Sheet, I already knew JavaScript. And let me tell you, once you start dabbling in app script, there is almost nothing you can’t do. Google Sheets ceases to be a spreadsheet—it’s a web app builder. I can take in data from APIs, push data out to BigQuery, and have buttons to clear, update, and run processes. All this is in an environment that most clients recognize and are familiar with. 

A few things can be troublesome—you’ve got to protect your cells if you’re going to give someone the ability to edit other parts. But when you need it fast, a Spreadsheet can be your best friend.