Quickstart: Run any Blockspring function with Google Sheets.

In this tutorial, we'll learn how a single function in Google Sheets gets you access to all of the powerful utilities, algorithms, API calls, visualizations (and more) in the Blockspring community library.

For more info and examples, check out our announcement blog post.

Installation


Visit the Blockspring for Google Sheets homepage and click the big, blue +FREE button to install.

Free install

A spreadsheet should open with the following notification. Click "continue".

Authorize

Authorize Blockspring against the permissions that pop up. And then sign in!

Sign in

After you sign in, the Blockspring Console should open and you're good to go.


Your first run: personal assistant.


Let's chat with a personal assistant.

Copy and paste the function below into a cell.

=BLOCKSPRING("personal-assistant-jeannie", "message",
"What's the weather like in Antarctica today?")

Unless it's the end of the world, Antarctica is probably pretty cold right now. You should see the following response in your cell.

It is currently clear, -3 Fahrenheit

You ran your first Blockspring function. Let's explain how that worked.


Blockspring functions in a nutshell


When you ran =BLOCKSPRING(), here's what happened:

  1. Blockspring used your function name to find Personal Assistant, a simple API call to the Jeannie personal assistant, written in Python, and submitted by user pkpp1233.

  2. Personal Assistant quickly executed in the cloud, with your message passed through as an input argument.

  3. You received results in the same cell.

That instant replay should raise some questions. Let's answer them.


A quick Q+A


Where do I find more Blockspring functions?
In Google Sheets, click "Add-ons" -> "Blockspring" -> "Console".

Open console

From the console, click "Browse" to look through the Blockspring community's popular functions - utilities, algorithms, API calls, visualizations, and more. Or click "My Library" to see all of your personal functions.

Console


Great, I found a function. How do I run it?
When you find a function from the "Browse" or "My Library" windows, click it to go to its homepage.

Bout to click

From there, click the big, blue button labeled "Insert into new sheet (recommended)" to automatically run your function with default values in a new worksheet.

Open show


How do I know what inputs my function requires?
If you clicked the "Insert into new sheet (recommended)" button, you should see an example run of your function, with its required inputs populated with default values.

Insert into sheet


My function output looks strange! What do I do?
Sometimes a function's output looks strange. That's because it might contain visualizations, multiple data points, images, or other files. Whenever an output looks strange, do the following:

  1. Select the cell with the strange-looking output.
  2. Go to the Blockspring Console ("Add-ons" -> "Blockspring" -> "Console")
  3. Click "Viewer"
Any files returned with your function should render! Feel free to click the associated links and download them.

Click viewer


Your second run: interactive google map


Let's create an interactive Google map with Blockspring. First, copy the following into cells A1 through C4.

Lat Lon Tooltip
37.4217542234 -122.100920271 Somewhere
41.895964876906 -87.632716978217 Out
28.58230778 77.09399505 There

Next copy/paste this function into any cell.

=BLOCKSPRING("interactive-google-map", "locations", A1:C4)

You should see the following show up in the cell.

{"_blockspring_spec": true, "map": {"filename":"map.html",...

This doesn't look like normal spreadsheet output. That's because Blockspring is returning an interactive map file. Go to the Blockspring console (click "Add-ons" -> "Blockspring" -> "Console") and click "Viewer".

You should see an interactive google map pop up that looks like this:


Google map

Try changing the lat/lon inputs and reopening the map (click "View response in selected cell" from the viewer). It'll update!


Become a Blockspring pro


Blockspring lets you program just about anything with a single function in your spreadsheet. You now know how to:

  • Run Blockspring functions,
  • Find new Blockspring functions, and
  • A bit of background behind how Blockspring works.

Now that you're becoming a pro, get 100k function runs per month for free!


Discover new functions Work at Blockspring