Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Google Apps Script for Google Slides

Project Status: Dream Came True
Update: Advanced Slides Service makes scripting for Google Slides possible

I can't wait till Google Slides gains the power of Google Apps Script (GAS). I love using Google Drive and the tools it comes with. Google Sheets for example is so powerful because I have the ability to use Google Apps Scripts to automate so many processes that would be too time consuming to manage by hand. Currently Google Slides does not have Google Apps Script integrated.

I remember when I first used Google Apps Script in Google Sheets, it was awesome, and I clicked straight over to Google Slides thinking this is going to be epic. Once I dug around in Slides for awhile though I was disappointed to learn that it wasn't a part of the product yet. I didn't lose all hope though, that is typically the way Google operates with these products, the idea being to release early and release often adding more functionality over time.

So I have and will continue to wait patiently, hoping that someone at Google is showing up for work today with this project on the to do list and is eagerly hacking away at it.

The basic idea here is that Google Apps Script, also commonly referred to as GAS, be added to Google Slides. Once this happens there will be a great deal of functionality added to the product.

For example, imagine if I was giving a presentation to my class or coworkers and wanted to give them an option to provide live feedback. I could add a poll to one of my slides and provide a short URL or QR code for the audience. Opening this this URL on their personal devices the viewers would have the ability to choose from the poll options and we could all watch the live aggregate results appear on the slide. We could even wait a moment for the majority of responses to come in before moving to the results slide if we choose to set it up this way.

Let's take that example a step further and say that maybe the provided poll was a list of topics we could cover in the talk or an opportunity to dig further into an explanation of the content being presented. In this case we could be gathering an interest level or general knowledge base from the audience so that the path of our talk may then branch off in a different direction depending on the poll results.

How about a use case where we are a teacher? We are covering our course material and want to recap what we have just covered in the presentation. With the help of Google Apps Script we can integrate very simple multiple choice questions or we can get pretty creative with interactive learning using live audience feedback.

Another option is to integrate live web data. Say I have a slide with stock market data and I want to view live data during the presentation rather than previously captured and thus stale data. There are many sites I might actually want to scrape live data from and provide charts, graphs or dashboard like gauges for in my slides. Currently I don't believe there is a way to do this. At least not a workaround that I have found or heard of.

Integrating live data takes Google Slides to a level that opens up the possibilities for so many people to be creative and productive. Live data could be anything from the current weather conditions outside to the most recent Facebook, Twitter or Instagram posts. It doesn't stop there though because with this added ability to script you could add in the option for a moderator in the audience to make sure unwanted or hateful posts won't be featured on your presentation.

Not a coder? Not a problem. Even the way Google Sheets is currently setup there is an option to get something called "Add-ons," which are basically coded solutions other people have provided and you are able to use within your own project.

No need to limit the possibilities to what we typically think of as a presentation. What if, for example, a company wanted to use a live interactive or view only presentation as a reader board of sorts in a kiosk type screen located in their lobby? Whether or not it is a touched based device, it still has some pretty profound possibilities. This screen could populate from time based current meeting and event data within the building, integrate continuous image sliders based on logic or even bring to focus current and useful information such as traffic or weather data.

The possibilities are quite endless but I understand the difficulty for Google to accomplish this is quite high. It's something that I have always hoped they are working on but honestly have no idea if it will ever happen.

Update on June 13, 2017:

Happy to announce, even if a few months late on the announcement, that the integration of Google Apps Script and Google Slides is now another pipe dream that came true. Check out this blog post to learn how to get started now.