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Google Adds Scripting Capabilities To Google Docs

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the scripted-dialogue dept.

Google 58

snydeq writes "Google will add scripting capabilities to Google Docs, allowing organizations to customize their online applications and automate tasks. Google plans to sign up about 1,000 customers over the next few weeks to test the feature, called Google Apps Script. It will be tested initially in Google Spreadsheets and extended to other Google Docs applications over time. The company isn't saying yet when Apps Script — which is based on JavaScript with object-based extensions added by Google — will be widely available. Google Docs users can already apply to try it out."

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58 comments

Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (5, Informative)

Durrok (912509) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148127)

Wave is set to pretty much assimilate the web. Just got done watching the demo at wave.google.com [google.com] and I think I need to change my boxers.

Lolwut! (0, Offtopic)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148151)

singularity.google.com

Re:Lolwut! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148233)

During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [cnn.com] by CNN.

Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against non-Blacks. Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is a non-Black minority. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate. Only about 65% of them supported Obama.

If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [cnn.com] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin is quite acceptable by the standards of today's moral values.

Re:Lolwut! (5, Funny)

mlscdi (1046868) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148421)

Wave is set to pretty much assimilate the web. Just got done watching the demo at wave.google.com [google.com] and I think I need to change my boxers.

The internet will be assimilated. Your project's collaborators will be added to our database. Resistance is futile.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (0, Offtopic)

patro (104336) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148199)

Got me thinking. Will Slashdot and similar forums exist in their current form a few years from now? Or will they transform into wave servers and topics like this one will be waves on those servers?

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (3, Interesting)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148221)

Of course forums like this will still exist. Usenet is still in use, even for important stuff (like comp.risks, or news.admin.net-abuse.*), as well as places like the scary devil monastery. I even found a dial-up BBS that was in active use last year, although that was mainly being used as a historical curiosity than as a proper means of communication. Some things will die out and switch to Google waves, many others will stay in use as they currently exist.

On the other hand, switching to Google Wave would bring back the days of a single place to find conversation on any topic imaginable, but because it would be under the control of a single corporation, this could well be argued to be a bad thing, for obvious reasons.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (4, Informative)

patro (104336) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148243)

because it would be under the control of a single corporation, this could well be argued to be a bad thing, for obvious reasons.

The protocol will be open and every can run their own wave server independetly of Google, so it won't be under the control of a single corporation.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (0)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148387)

Ah. Ok. Forget I said that last part then. The rest of my post, about not every problem being a nail and thus the desire for tools other than hammers, still stands.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28151131)

every can run their own wave server...

Didn't know cans could run wave servers.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148249)

...but because it would be under the control of a single corporation, this could well be argued to be a bad thing, for obvious reasons.

Actually, Google Wave is an open protocol and and open platform, and multiple Wave servers can communicate with each other, so it wouldn't have to all be under the control of a single corporation. That's one of the things about Google Wave which I find quite exciting.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148347)

Centralized repositories are so 90ies....

Not centralized ! (3, Informative)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#28149171)

It's not centralized, they're making it Open Source and publishing the protocols and APIs. The idea is that every organisation can have their own wave server, in the same way that they have their own SMTP Email servers day. Also, they're anticipating that other organisations will write their own fully compatible, standards compliant Wave servers in competition to Google's.

Want to have a conversation with several people from different organisations (with wave servers) about a project, then open up a Wave for the project and just invite them using their email addresses. The intro vid was long, but they did cover this.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (4, Insightful)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148393)

Remember, the reason not every tool is a hammer is because not every problem is a nail. Google are doing a good job of remembering the key Unix design philosiphy: "Do one thing, do it right, and make sure you can talk to everything else". Each of their apps is fairly self contained, and yet can be tied together with their APIs. Thus, it seems likely that wave, along with everything else, will be useable as a data source for Docs macros, once the API is complete.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148955)

make sure you can talk to everything else

I wish Google Chrome would talk to my Firefox extensions.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28151613)

They're working on it [osnews.com]. Well, not exactly, but Firefox and Chrome will both support the new HTML/JS extension framework being discussed.

Obongo gets intelligence lesson at burger joint (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148845)

Re:Obongo gets intelligence lesson at burger joint (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148985)

The term "geospatial intelligence" means the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. Geospatial intelligence consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial (e.g., mapping, charting and geodesy) information.

George W. Bush was a well-known expert in geodesy and visual analysis of his own pecker. But thankfully, he had Dick Cheney to mind the torture chambers and military contracts.

Re:Who cares about Google Docs anymore? (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#28149113)

Thanks for the link, I'd not seen that. Just spent the last 1hr20 watching the vid. WOW, this answers my needs on so many levels. I look forward to the day when this is as ubiquitous as SMTP, and email can finally be put to rest.

Its just browser shit (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 4 years ago | (#28149841)

If it was a real program, it *might* be interesting, even though it doesn't really add anything new.

But crap to run in a browser?

Hell no.

Re:Its just browser shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28151239)

You are forgetting that Google Chrome is actually a fast platform, and it is still improving (no doubt they will add support for natively running code in a vmware/virtualbox way). Now the other browsers just need to catch up.

Re:Its just browser shit (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28151689)

It's a protocol which I believe is based on XMPP (Jabber) and makes heavy use of HTML5, so any client would have to pretty much embed a web browser in order to view messages. Google made a web client first because (1) it's Google, they like coding for web and (2) it is a quick and easy way to make an app cross-platform. If Google does not make a native client for it (like they made Google Talk), then other projects will because a lot of people (including myself) agree with you that the web is the wrong place for an IM client, especially seeing as persistence is part of the protocol so there is no real advantage to running the protocol on someone else's server as the protocol should effectively sync all the clients you use automatically. Most likely, once it is finalized, there will be multiple open source projects to create native clients.

poo0o0ooo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148169)

in your ASSsssassssaasassss..

What about integration between Google Apps? (5, Interesting)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148217)

If they want to make any impression on M$Office advanced users, they have to also offer inter-application scripting. e.g. script to convert special text document to spreadsheet. or script to convert spreadsheet lines into appointments.

The forte of M$Office is seamless - from scripting point of view - integration between the applications.

Re:What about integration between Google Apps? (1)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148429)

I don't think the parent is a troll. The sort of giant messes of VBA which he refers to are evil, but very popular, and typically began as a simple connection to fulfil some useful purpose. If Google Docs can't do something as easily as MS Office can, then that will be a barrier to adoption, and Google would do well to remember that trying to force oyur users to do things properly is a bad idea, in general, because they want to do things the easy(-seeming) way.

There is currently the Google API for tying things together, but users are going to want to record macros like they can in MS Office, and will want to be able to put their entire scripts inside their documents, or at least get the appearance of having done so.

Re:What about integration between Google Apps? (1)

Cico71 (603080) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148653)

Exactly. People that modded parent as troll should go out of the basement and have a look at what happens in large organizations where users are left building Office cross-application. Criticizing this model is one thing, living in a idealistic dream i another thing. So op arguments are perfectly legit.

Having said so, I don't think availability of this integration between apps is a problem yet. Although there are already some examples, I don't see large organizations queuing up to outsource their office applications to the cloud. It may happen more and more in the future, and Goggle is probably wise enough to have some plan somewhere, but it's just not a priority right now.

Re:What about integration between Google Apps? (4, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148607)

The user has a point. There's a massive number of companies, large and small, that have business processes dependant on VBA scripts in Microsoft Office apps. This keeps a lot of companies using Office, because they don't want to re-create those scripts -- many of which were created by people who don't know java; or, to be fair, don't know how to code in Basic either. (some of the stuff I've seen *shudder*)

If Google can offer similar scripting capability, and interpret existing VBA scripts, they might take some of Microsoft's business. Unfortunately, there are licensing fees Microsoft demands for VBA.

Takes me back... (4, Insightful)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148263)

I seem to remember that programmability was the exact reason so many security experts despised the MS Office Suite. How long until the first Google Docs based malware installation?

Re:Takes me back... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28149531)

How long? I'm not sure whether it'll be a few minutes or hours after hackers get to play with it :).

It was the first thing I thought of after reading "adds scripting capabilities"- worms etc.

It's not like Google has had a great security track record (cross site scripting, unauthorized access to picasa pictures, etc).

Do not want (5, Insightful)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148267)

The interwebs is already under assault from script-borne malware in PDFs, Flash, QuickTime and of course Microsoft Office has always been widely exploited in the past. Take, for example, Javascript support in Adobe Acrobat.. who uses it? When we turned support off for 5000 users exactly *zero* people noticed. It seems that these things are only of use to the Bad Guys.

Imagine the fun they will have with docs scripting combined with the wonderful world of XSS attacks. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Do not want (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148309)

So Google shouldn't add new functionality to their applications because it might be abused?

Perhaps companies should stop manufactoring computers, I mean, look how they get abused.

Re:Do not want (2, Insightful)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148557)

So Google shouldn't add new functionality to their applications because it might be abused?

I think the poster was against adding unnecessary functionalities. They shouldn't add new stuff just because it's new, and we shouldn't accept it unless it's relevant and useful.

Re:Do not want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148577)

No, it is that there is a right way and a wrong way to add such functionality.

WRONG WAY
- on by default
- invisible to the user
- access to the file system

RIGHT WAY
- off by default
- always warn the user when it is used by a document and ASK if they want the feature enabled
- no access to the file system unless specifically user-enabled (maybe: no access to the file system, period)
- file access only with restricted privileges (e.g., not outside the directory in which the document occurs)

These sorts of scripting features have eventually been a security nightmare in practically every instance where they have been implemented in commonly-exchanged documents, so caution is deserved. Furthermore, there should always be an option to run a version without script support( i.e. the program should support complete user disabling of the feature). For example, with Adobe Reader I removed the plugins that support scripting a couple of years ago because I thought it was inevitable they would be exploited someday, and I did not need them (it also improved performance).

Can I predict the future, or is it simply true that this kind of thing is risky?

Re:Do not want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28149513)

So Google shouldn't add new functionality to their applications because it might be abused?

Perhaps companies should stop manufactoring computers, I mean, look how they get abused.

No, Google shouldn't add this misfeature to its applications, because it will be abused.

This isn't new functionality. It's an old security hole. Scripting in documents has been a worm/virus vector for more than a decade. It was a bad idea in the mid-90s (Excel and Word macro viruses), it was a bad idea when Netscape did it (Javascript in Netscape 3.x on Win9x), it was a bad idea when Microsoft did it (ActiveX in IE) it was a bad idea when Adobe did it (Javascript in PDF), and it's a bad idea now (Google in GoogleDocs).

Never mind those who do not remember the past. It appears that even those who index all of the past are doomed to repeat it.

Re:Do not want (0)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148629)

There is some confusion evidently being caused by the summary. This is not a feature being offered for Google Apps, per se, but rather Google Apps for Your Domain.

Malicious implementations is an utterly irrelevant concern. If I own a domain, I can put malicious software on there whether or not I am using Google Apps.

Personally, I think this is amazing and brilliant and the way the web should be. Why would you not want your software to be extensible? We will probably start seeing 'competitors' to gmail who use gmail for the base and add in extra features (even if google is good now do you want to be locked in and dependent on their design decisions for the rest of your life?) and I am sure companies will have plenty of use for adding scripts to their internal email service. (not that they couldn't do that before, but let's consider the basic undeniable and wonderful fact that gmail is not outlook express)

Re:Do not want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28149733)

Are you saying we should trade security for freedom?

Re:Do not want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28151625)

The interwebs is already under assault from script-borne malware in PDFs, Flash, QuickTime and of course Microsoft Office has always been widely exploited in the past. Take, for example, Javascript support in Adobe Acrobat.. who uses it? When we turned support off for 5000 users exactly *zero* people noticed. It seems that these things are only of use to the Bad Guys.

Imagine the fun they will have with docs scripting combined with the wonderful world of XSS attacks. What could possibly go wrong?

I'm sorry, you should rethink this assertion. It's not "the interwebs" that's under assault from the threats you list. It's "Microsoft Windows" that is threatened.

Let it fail.

The end of Microsoft Office? (2, Interesting)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148285)

Now, we all know that there are two kinds of companies: those that afford buying quality custom software and those (a lot!) that can't and use Excel and Word scripts. With the power of sharing, multiple simultaneous editors, chat, publishing, safe backups, etc. could Google Docs be considered a more powerful Office suite? They still have some limitations like the number of rows in Google Docs Spreadsheet is a lot lower than the number of rows limit in Microsoft Office Excel. What will happen when they'll overcome those limitations?

Re:The end of Microsoft Office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148411)

Insightful.

Global and permanent access to the internet plus the increase in javascript speed will obsolete many desktop apps.

Of course there will be those that won't keep their private documents in the "cloud". But private clouds are already a viable solution for many large companies. Google already provides intranet search [google.com]. Once they take Docs out of the beta, who's to stop them from offering Docs servers for your private intranet/cloud?

Desktop apps will become limited in scope, and probably thin clients to the cloud, with the ability to work offline. Google Gears already makes it possible. What's holding this back for now is Microsoft's failing broken-browser monopoly. And cheap, permanent, on the go internet access is still a pipe dream.

There's still a long way to go, but the demise of Microsoft is impending, unless they manage to transform online services into a cash cow.

Re:The end of Microsoft Office? (2, Funny)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148767)

What will happen when they'll overcome those limitations?

Every one will stand up and clap and then get all misty eyed, because darnit if trying your hardest and making it across the finish line isn't more important than winning!

Finish up with hugs all around and roll credits.

Re:The end of Microsoft Office? (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148901)

64 rows is enough for anyone.

Seriously, lots of people use Excel as a database and they generate a lot of errors since random flying fingers can generate errors which are impossible to find... and don't even get me started on pivot tables...

Re:The end of Microsoft Office? (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#28149223)

For some people it already is. I know a couple of people (not me yet) who've decided that for home stuff they just don't need a full blown PC with Office software anymore and are using Google for everything now. Google Docs are perfectly adequate for writing letters and doing simple tasks that require a spreadsheet. They will only get more sophisticated, and internet bandwidth will keep on increasing, so this will only get better.

but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148337)

but...can you delete folders yet?

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148379)

If this is really secured tightly, it could work really well.
And since they have been working on it for quite a while now, i expect it to be pretty secure.
Once they open it for testing, should be easy to see if it is secure or not.

I've been waiting for scripting for so long.
The filters were fairly decent if done correctly, but still not as good as full-on scripting.

Google Docs' features are still wanting (3, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148457)

While Google Docs is more stable, its features are still wanting compared to Zoho Writer. Google Docs still has nothing to challenge Zoho Writer's Zoho Creator after all thins long!

Sometimes I wonder whether it was a mistake not to buy Zoho. Those folks at Zoho are quite amazing. There is a an almost 2 year old comparison [blogspot.com] of the two in which I'd say Zoho beats Google hands down.

i needed to know the facts about FUDgePacking (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148503)

so i just binged it. AHHHAHAHAHA

robbIE, you're so 'funny' with your patentdead PostBlock devise. you said you'd never do that? like meatloaf. just another casualty of the greed/fear/ego based infomania wars, eye gas?

nothing will ever top the 'gnu online dating' scheme as far as we're concerned. better days ahead.

SANT GOOGLE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28148523)

Google is the best !!!

Bye....

Santiago
Equipo NoLoSé
nolosearquitectura@gmail.com
www.nolosearquitectura.es

What's the point if you can't share (1)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 4 years ago | (#28148727)

That may be cool, but the point of Google Docs (for me at least), is to be able to share documents across the web, and edit them online, which you cannot do (reliably) at the moment.

Currently, if I make a document on the web, and send a link to it to some people, they cannot see it unless they happen to have a Google account [google.com], or they are willing to create one or go through some ridiculous voodoo [google.com]. So for me, it's useless as it is, and new features seem irrelevant. Yes, I know it's Beta etc.

Breaking news... (1)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 4 years ago | (#28151647)

Another google doc scripting vounerability has been found in the wild today. Researchers are still unclear why google thought they were smart enough to implement safe scripting. This marks the seventh nuclear missle fired by google docs this week. The goverment has decided, grudgingly, that perhaps switching to google docs was not the smartest move ever.

Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?
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