Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bookstore Web Site & Google Spreadsheets

Bookstore Web Site & Google Spreadsheets
This is a brief article about a web site I built, for minimal cost, using Google Spreadsheets to display a book inventory.

I have a wonderful client who owns a used book store in Southern Oregon. Like so many small businesses, they have limited funds for marketing. But, at the same time there is a need to do as much marketing as possible.  All business want as much marketing as possible, right?

I got to know them by enjoying their great selection of adventure and mysteries books. Once we got to talking how they are doing their web presence,  I found out they didn't have a site or blog. It seemed like such a waste to me, all their thousands of books going idle, when the more people that can browse them, the more the books will be enjoyed. They felt the same way.

The Solution

The obvious solution is hooking up their database to a web site and off we go.  All though that's  probably the "best" method it was just not affordable for them. The fund factor was the driving force of the site design.

After doing research on certain methods and different software, I came across some software plug-ins that I could use with my web site software, on a MAC, that will pull data off Google Spreadsheets (GS) and display it on a web page.

While the plug-in has several limitations, it's an affordable fix for today, and that was the key ingredient. Just get the book inventory online with as little cost as possible.

GS has undergone some changes recently. The articles my research produced didn't work, but it took me trying all of them to reach that conclusion. The next step was wading through numerous forum Q/A's to see if anyone had a work around. Many were mentioned but after diligently testing them, none worked. After about throwing in the towel, I did find a solution that I was able to get working.

The Common Denominator

The techie point of the project is  displaying the content of a CSV file. 

- The bookstore database easily exported the inventory into a CSV file.
- The web site software could publish CSV content.
- There is a lot of collaboration in techie forums about the ease of using CSV files in one fashion or another.

With GS, the issue boiled down to recent GS updates. In the currence GS version they removed the publishing feature dealing with CSV files. In fact, if you go to GS today, there are zero formatting options for CSV.  They were all removed. The distributing piece of GS is that at first they were all for using CSV file and then overnight CSV literally disappeared off thier radar and documentation.

I think the great part of the web is, when you take your time, you can find some amazingly good hearted research that many people contribute to, which provides insights and knowledge to all. Like Google+.  I like G+ over Facebook any day for that same reason; the ability to collaborate with others without too much fuss and with privacy too.

What to do?

Take a chance, try something new and different.  In one Q/A exchange someone suggesting altering the file name that GS provides when you share the file so that it becomes CS. That turned out to be a million dollar idea.

You have to manually change the end of the file name as shown in link below:
will become


A. In GS you have to 1) SHARE the file and 2) PUBLISH the file.
The SHARE option is up in the right hand corner. Today it's a blue button that say share.
The PUBLISH option is available in the FILE menu. 

Do not change the file name in GS after you do those two steps.

B. The web site software I used on this project is Rapid Weaver

C. The plug-in I used is Power Grid by Joe Workman.

NOTE: The forum where I found the solution was not using the same web site software solution I am, so this file name fix is at the level of your web site solution.

To receive my free SEO Guide, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment