Keep people out of your office with Google Apps

The title says it all, I do not want to be interrupted every 10 seconds. One of the most annoying things is when people forget their usernames. Or their email address. Like many places, we have two usernames. For legal reasons, this could not be helped.

So I started looking at ways to use the Google Apps Api to facilitate account look-ups.
Google Spreadsheets are easy for everyone to update, so they are great for keeping records current. However, when shared online as a reference resource, I find them hard to work with, and slow to update.

Some internet research lead me to this post that explained how to extend Google Apps Spreadsheets with PHP.

After some experimentation, I developed two Google Powered pages. One allows Teachers to look up other teachers, and the other allows teachers to look up students.

The search allows for keywords, department, grade level, etc. It sorts as well. I implemented some simple CSS to make it look nice, but simple to use. Now every teacher
on campus has access to data that can be used for reference or to propagate other systems.

We do have a school management system that can create spreadsheets of data for any purpose, but the turn around time can be an issue. As long as IT keeps the Google Apps Spreadsheets updated, access to information is instant.

Security is also provided via the Google Apps sharing preferences. This makes it easy to ensure the data is only accessible by those who are part of the school’s Google Apps Domain.

The uses of simple databases like this are endless, and once you have worked with the code on one Google Apps Spreadsheet + PHP project, it is easy to re-use it for another one.

I hope my work pays off, because I really want to keep the office visits down to a minimum, I have Mix Cloud to explore and programming to get done.

Tony DePrato

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