Build add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | 10:04 AM

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We've just announced Google Docs and Sheets add-ons — new tools created by developers like you that give Google users even more features in their documents and spreadsheets. Joining the launch are more than 60 add-ons that partners have built using Apps Script. Now, we're opening up the platform in a developer-preview phase. If you have a cool idea for Docs and Sheets users, we'd love to publish your code in the add-on store and get it in front of millions of users.


To browse through add-ons for Docs and Sheets, select Get add-ons in the Add-ons menu of any document or spreadsheet. (Add-ons for spreadsheets are only available in the new Google Sheets).


Under the hood

Docs and Sheets add-ons are powered by Google Apps Script, a server-side JavaScript platform that requires zero setup. Even though add-ons are in developer preview right now, the tools and APIs are available to everyone. The only restriction is on final publication to the store.

Once you have a great working prototype in Docs or Sheets, please apply to publish. Scripts that are distributed as add-ons gain a host of benefits:

  • Better discovery: Apps Script has long been popular among programmers and other power users, but difficult for non-technical users to find and install. Add-ons let you distribute your code through a polished storefront—as well as direct links and even Google search results.
  • Sharing: When two people collaborate on a document and one of them uses an add-on, it appears in the Add-ons menu for both to see. Similarly, once you get an add-on from the store, it appears in the menu in every document you create or open, although your collaborators will only see it in documents where you use it. For more info on this sharing model, see the guide to the add-on authorization lifecycle.
  • Automatic updates: When you republish an add-on, the update pushes out automatically to all your users. There's no more hounding people to switch to the latest version.
  • Share functionality without sharing code: Unlike regular Apps Script projects, add-ons don't expose your source code for all to see. That's reassuring both to less-technical users and to the keepers of your codebase's secrets.
  • Enterprise features: If your company has its own Google Apps domain, you can publish add-ons restricted just to your employees. This private distribution channel is a great way for organizations that run on Google Apps to solve their own unique problems.

Beautiful, professional appearance

Thanks to hard work from our developer partners, the add-ons in the store look and feel just like native features of Google Docs and Sheets. We're providing a couple of new resources to help all developers achieve the same visual quality: a CSS package that applies standard Google styling to typography, buttons, and other form elements, and a UI style guide that provides great guidance on designing a Googley user experience.


A replacement for the script gallery

Add-ons are available in the new version of Google Sheets as a replacement for the older version's script gallery. If you have a popular script in the old gallery, now's a great time to upgrade it to newer technology.

We can't wait to see the new uses you'll dream up for add-ons, and we're looking forward to your feedback on Google+ and questions on Stack Overflow. Better yet, if you're free at noon Eastern time this Friday, join us live on YouTube for a special add-on-centric episode of Apps Unscripted.


Dan Lazin   profile | twitter

Dan is a technical writer on the Developer Relations team for Google Apps Script. Before joining Google, he worked as video-game designer and newspaper reporter. He has bicycled through 17 countries.

9 comments:

James Ferreira said...

As the owner of Apps4Gapps.com, GoogleScriptExamples.com and the author of two O'Reilly books about Google Apps Script, I want to let the Apps Script team know that this is an amazing service and I thank you all for the incredible work you do.

Darvin Otero said...

This is great! Congratulations Google Team.
As Google Apps Developers we are glad to start developing this kind of Google Apps as well.

Rheinard Korf said...

+1 team! This will be awesome in the Education space! What's the roll-out plan? Add-ons not yet on our domain.

astilly said...

As the developer of several popular tools for teachers in the old scripts gallery (Doctopus, autoCrat, formMule, formRanger, etc), I believe this new ecosystem represents something deeply disruptive to the status quo in educational technology. Thrilled to be a part of it. Great job team!

William Egan said...

These look great, and would work extremely well for interfacing Google Docs with business hardware such as label printers, envelope printers, card makers etc.

Julian Andres Guarin Reyes said...

So this is the end to questions such as, "what is the best replacement for ms project in linux or mac", theres none such as the one you can build by yourself!

Protector one said...

"Unlike regular Apps Script projects, add-ons don't expose your source code for all to see."

What what now?? Are you telling me all my Google Apps Scripts' code is public?? How can someone see my code?

Dan Lazin said...

@Protector one: Regular Apps Script code is not public-public, but a script that is attached to a Google Docs or Sheets file can be seen by anyone with Edit access to the file, or anyone with View access if they make a copy. That is, the code is accessible to your collaborators on the file, but not the public. I should have made this clearer in the post.

Protector one said...

@Dan: Ah, thanks for clearing that up. Had me worried there for a bit!