Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hello 1999, we now do quick data collection with Google Forms and Apps Script

Hello 1999, I'm writing this from the future.

It is now October 2014 and we've found better ways to process our data. If you're reading this in the past, say some time before 2004 then I can safely tell you that the future of data collection is bright. I know there was once a time that ad-hoc data collection problems required a team of 5 engineers or a suite of expensive desktop software. I can safely declare that this is no longer needed.

Of course there are still many managing their quick 2 question surveys by printing many sheets of paper and collecting responses using pen and paper rather than tablets and cloud connected laptops. For my more light-weight data collection problems (less than 20 fields in a form) I now use Google Forms and it's great. I'm talking about problems like:
  • Event registration
  • Short surveys
  • Online Quizes
  • Accepting Student Submissions

It wasn't always this way.

As you probably know, many, many, many, many...... years ago, in the dark ages, forms were processed manually in large rooms where persons counted and tabulated the results, they were filled out using pens and papers. This manual approach introduced issues like having to figure out someone's handwriting or recounting if an error was made (yeah I know, some persons are still doing it that way). Nowadays big data collection problems are managed electronically. For big data collection there is big "enterprisey" software and for smaller problems we have tools like Google Forms.

But we wanted to make Forms do more.

After managing a few little form projects, we wanted more automation. Luckily, Google Forms was up to the task. We've started to integrate Apps Script into our processes and it's made us more efficient. From simple mail merges to more complex operations, Apps Script has opened up a new world to us.

Apps Script makes it possible for us to automate some of the tasks which can become tedious and repetitive. Of course Apps Script isn't for everyone (we're looking forward to having ready-made add-ons that do just what we need). If you're willing to dig into a bit of code then you're all good and the benefits are huge. For people who want to learn more about Apps Script we've even created a knowledge session for that.

Learn more about our Tutorate Apps Script session and then go back and enlighten others.

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