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Piping Data into Google Sheets

May 29, 2015

One of our core objectives with Fulcrum is to make it easy to work with your data once you’ve surveyed data in the field. There are several ways to get at your data after collection is complete, whether you’re performing QA/QC with the web-based map view, exporting raw data to several different file formats for export, or using our API to build your own custom tools. One of my favorite methods for working with my data is using what we call data shares, which allows for piping a live, on-demand version of an app’s data as CSV, GeoJSON, or KML formats.

Google Sheets using Fulcrum data shares

One great tool for visualizing and publishing data you’ve captured in Fulcrum is Google Sheets, part of Google’s online productivity suite. Because of how easy it is to get CSV or Excel-formatted data out of Fulcrum (and the simplicity of loading that into a Google Sheet), this is an excellent way to quickly get real-time data into a live spreadsheet that you can use to generate charts and graphs, share with clients or co-workers, and even use as a service to drive other custom applications.

Connecting to a Google Sheet with Data Shares

If you have a Fulcrum app with data you’d like to get into a sheet, head over to the data share settings for your app and copy the URL for the CSV file format. Create a new sheet in your Google Docs account for your data to go to, then use the built-in IMPORTDATA function to automatically load your records from Fulcrum right into the sheet. This function will automatically import the contents of the target URL about once every hour, so our data will stay up to date as records are collected and synced in Fulcrum. We built a quick overview video to show how easy it is:

Other Advantages

With data in Google Sheets, you get a lot of other advantages including an archive of your data from Fulcrum continuously updated in your Google Drive account, you can share easily with other members of your organization, and (as demonstrated in the video) you get all the nice charting and analysis capabilities available in spreadsheet applications. Google Sheets takes it a step further by actually providing a platform to use as an online hosted database for building other applications using the Google Sheets developer tools. If you’re interested in building custom visualizations powered by Google Sheets, checkout Jessica Lord’s awesome sheetsee.js library for building custom tables, maps, and charts for web publishing.

See other examples of how you can use data shares to do neat things with data publishing and sharing from Fulcrum.