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

Wanna program?

Me too!


I’ve wanted to learn programming since I was a kid. For a while I was a beast (by 4th grade standards) at Quick Basic, but those days are long gone and my skills have gone with them. Lately, I’ve been itching to learn programming and there are a ton of resources out there to help people like me out (some listed below), but here is what happens. I start full of vigor and start going through online courses but the weirdest thing happens . . . work, life, other priorities. Eventually my coding ambitions go the way of the dodo to make room for these other “emergencies”.

I need help, I need more structure and an occasional kick in the butt. Code Academy to my rescue. They are offering free programming classes over a wide variety of languages throughout the year. Every week a lesson will be emailed to me and I will need to complete it. They are calling it Code Year. Hopefully, this sort of structure and community are what I need to finally keep on track till completion. Wish me luck and if you’d like to join, jump over to Code Academy and get started yourself.

Happy coding!