Using web services with Google Docs


Last week I wrote about a couple of cool dynamic data capabilities that are built in to Google Docs, including the GoogleFinance function, which lets you link to external stock ticker data in your spreadsheets.

Hackszine reader Tony Hirst, who previously showed us how to incorporate Wikipedia tables into a spreadsheet document, sent us some examples for accessing different web services from the Spreadsheets application using the importXML function. His examples include a howto for calling Amazon Web Services and another for accessing the New York Times Campaign Data API. Tony mentions, “I’ve now started thinking that google docs is a good place for people with little coding experience to play with web services.”

For non-coders, the importXML feature is great in that it gives your spreadsheets access to a number of existing APIs without you needing to do a lot of work. For the programmers out there, however, this is even more powerful – you now have a mechanism for easily presenting and graphing your application data, assuming you can toss together a quick XML service.

Calling Amazon Associates/Ecommerce Web Services from a Google Spreadsheet
Viewing Campaign Finance Data In a Google Spreadsheet via the New York Times Campaign Data API

HOWTO – track stocks in Google Spreadsheets
Scraping Wikipedia tables with Google Spreadsheets

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