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1 Welcome to Desktop Liberation

Welcome to Desktop Liberation

The definitive resource for Google Apps Script and Microsoft Office Automation

I am a Google Developer Expert and decided to investigate Google Apps Script in my spare time.

The more I investigated the more content I created so this site is extremely rich. Now, in 2019, a lot of things have disappeared or don’t work anymore due to Google having retired some stuff. I am however leaving things as is and where I came across some deprecated stuff, I have indicated it.

I decided to write a book about it and to also create videos to teach developers who want to learn Google Apps Script. If you find the material contained in this site useful, you can support me by buying my books and or videos.

You can navigate the content of the site by clicking on the main categories located on the menu, by selecting a category on the right or by using the search button.

For those who prefer book and eBook formats, a 450+ page deep dive into Apps Script. Especially useful for those transitioning from another platform. All formats are available from O'Reilly, Amazon and all good bookshops. You can also read a preview on O'Reilly
An accelerated video course over about 8 hours and 70 lessons taking you through JavaScript and Apps Script from start to finish. Available at O'Reilly, Infinite Skills and all good media outlets
A video course over about 8 hours and 70 lessons taking you through the basics of Apps Script and JavaScript . Available at O'Reilly, Infinite Skills and all good media outlets.

This site and its community aims to help you use cloud based APIS and services without being constrained by your desktop software. There’s a particular emphasis on Google APIs and JavaScript, but there’s also plenty of Microsoft and other stuff here too. All code here is unprotected and free to re-use.

Since the creation of this website, I have noticed that the below topics are by far the most popular*

JSON and Excel. Using VBA classes that emulate JavaScript objects, parsing and stringifying JSON and dealing with data from external services. Includes a data driven REST-EXCEL library, and implementation of Google oAuth2 authenticationD3.js is a brilliant javaScript library for building complex interactive visualizations. Here’s how to create them straight from Excel Data without needing to know any javaScript, as well as some non-Excel examples.
MAPS and Earth.Integrating Excel with Google Maps and Google Earth, including geoCoding, automatically building data driven web based apps from Excel data, and all things Geo.From VBA to Apps Script. Migrating from VBA to Google Apps Script, or using them simultaneously can be hard to get started with. Although this material has been largely superceded by Going Gas, there’s stll some useful stuff here.

The 7 topics below are the most recently published

Going Gas Abridged extracts from my book – Going Gas: from VBA to Apps Script. Featuring examples of the new Execution API.Goa authentication. An Apps Script library that takes care of authentication to a number of services such as Google, Microsoft, Github and others.
Going Serverless. How Firebase and Firebase cloud functions can help you go serverless, and forget all about the messy business of infrastructure configuration and maintenanceA collection of Google Apps Script/JavaScript snippets.I add a new one every now and again. A good place to start if you just want to get a feel for Apps Script, ranging from simple to esoteric and obscure
Integrate VBA projects with GitHub. An automated way of managing your VBA code, creating documentation on the fly, getting it to GitHub and creating workbooks directly from GitHub VBA code.Google Cloud Platform. Assorted GCP (Google Cloud Platform) topics and how tos.
Integrate VBA with JavaScript. Run JavaScript code directly in VBA using JS libraries on the Internet, or created locally. Opens up great possibilities for using Open Source code in VBA

For the geeky out there, those are the 4 most geeky things I have written about

Promises and Excel.Using promises in JavaScript and other languages is the preferred way to orchestrate the completion of asynchronous activities. Here’s a (not perfect but fun) Promise implementation in VBA. Example includes getting data from Google Fusion tables.Color Mathematics.The mathematics of color is a complex and interesting topic. Here you’ll find Google Apps Script, VBA and javascript examples of color manipulation including finding the closest match to a given color in a defined color scheme, and the infamous heatmap doughnut chart.
React,Redux,Redis,Material-UI and Firebase. A whole bunch of front end platform libraries that go together really well, but that are hard to grasp and get started with. Here’s a bunch of snippets to help show how all these things interact..Automatic VBA documentation and creation of apps script skeletons.Automating document ,creating Google Visualization and static tables of VBA projects, serialize instances of VBA classes and generating Google Apps Script skeleton of VBA projects.

Content preview

Is it still worth creating blogposts ?

I’ve considerably cooled on the whole blogging thing over the years, preferring to post either to communities, github, to my tutorial site or my YouTube channel, or to work on more substantial resources, such as books or […]


How about free VM for Chromebook owners?

I’ve been using a Chromebook for a few years now, and find myself going for long stretches without needing to turn on a Windows machine or an Apple Mac. At first, I was a little […]


2016 – Another year in Apps Script

2016 The real world of 2016 has been full of madness, badness and sadness. It’s impossible to reflect on its events without thinking of the divisiveness, nastiness and mean-spiritedness that we’ve all seen, and I […]


App Maker – Build engaging custom apps on G Suite with minimal coding

What is App Maker App Maker provides a ‘low code’ way to create professional looking G Suite custom apps without having to try too hard. You can drag and drop widgets on a form canvas, […]


Using an Apps Script webapp to distribute assets

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the distribution method for the assets associated with my first Apps Script book and subsequent video course. Most of the assets were Apps Script files, and the delivery method was via […]


Change from project key to scriptid

The Apps Script Script service is deprecating the getProjectKey() method. At this time it’s not clear when or why, but it does mean that if you are using the project key to create Oauth2 redirect […]


What I’ve learned from my first play around with BigQuery/Sheets integration

So this just happened. BigQuery integration with Sheets!. This is great; now you can use a spreadsheet as a federated datasource for BigQuery, and therefore query (and join with other massive datasets) your spreadsheet data […]


Targeting training material for Google Apps Scripters

Google Apps Script is the script language for Google Apps. If you are an Office user, think VBA, but in the cloud, with all the connectivity and share-ability that brings, and as an added bonus, […]


A belated post – 2015 – a year in Apps Script

I’ve more or less stopped using blogger this year – looking back I’ve only made 6 posts since my end of 2014 post summarizing that year. Instead, I’ve been continuing to focus on  desktop liberation […]


Null should mean something

It’s a common pattern in JavaScript to do this to assign a default value to a variable :

In other words, if someThing has a ‘falsey’ value (false, null , undefined , ” ,0) […]


Running JavaScript directly from Excel makes ‘going Google’ easier

I’ve been dong a lot of writing over on Desktop Liberation looking at techniques to run Apps Script/JavaScript code directly from VBA, In this post I’m going to talk about how useful this can be if […]


GitHub and VBA integration

If you develop shared code for VBA, you’ve probably got some massive workbooks that contain multiple projects that you wish you could separate, but it’s too complicated because they are sharing classes and functions. The […]


Some best practise notes on DbAbstraction usage

    Since we have a lot of operations going through the database abstraction libraries nowadays (over 3 million since I released this in summer last year),  I thought I’d give a few hints. I’ll […]


First shot at Polymer

I’ve just completed my first Polymer app and have mixed feeling about the experience. Regulars to this blog and the associated site know that I’m a great fan of Google stuff and like to try out […]


A year in the desktop liberation blog

I posted the other day in A year in apps script and my bucket list my take on what happened in the Google Apps Script world in 2014, and my hopes for 2015. As many of you […]


A year in apps script and my bucket list

2014 has been an eventful year for Google Apps Script with some great new capabilities arriving (add-ons), as well some useful ones (ScriptDB) being deprecated. In this post I’ll cover my highlights and lowlights of […]


Google Apps Script locking and optimum wait times and the golden ratio

You are probably familiar with the Google Apps Script Lock Service, which is a way of preventing concurrent access to sections of code. It works well, but the problem is that it’s a fairly blunt […]

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How many requests a second can you throw at your Google Apps Script webapp

There was a question on the Google Apps Script Community the other day. It went something like this. This is an important question, because if you have a webapp, potentially used by many people – […]


Using universal analytics to track your Google Apps Script library usage

In Analytics and GAS libraries I described how I had started to use Google Universal Analytics to track what usage was being made of Google Apps Script Libraries (and even desktop based libraries for Excel). A […]


Parse.com as a substitute for ScriptDB in Google Apps Script

As you will know by now, ScriptDB is now deprecated. A year or so ago, I published some articles on alternatives to ScriptDB on the desktop liberation site, one of which was Parse.com. This has turned […]


Coronavirus-d3.js viz: Detecting and dealing with collisions in force simulations

These snippets look at dealing with collisions in a force-directed simulation […]

Apps Script V8: Provoke server side code from add-ons and htmlservice

There are some new problems to do with the accessibility of functions in the global space which depend on a number of factors such as the order of declaration, and whether they are in a […]

cv-viz: Virus infection simulation with D3.js

The coronavirus is with us, and naturally, there’s much interest in data on its mortality, reach and spread, and of course much discussion on lockdowns, health capacity, social distancing and how they might affect those […]

Apps Script V8: Arraybuffers and Typed arrays

Apps Script V8 implements ArrayBuffers and Typed arrays from ES6. If you’ve used Apps Script Crypto Utilities or done any work with Blobs, then this is what’s going on behind the scenes, now exposed as […]

Apps Script V8: Maps and Sets

Apps Script V8 implements a couple of useful new ES6 structures – Maps and Sets. Here’s what they are and how to use them Maps and Sets: What are they? These are a collection of […]

Apps Script V8: Multiple script files, classes & namespaces

Multiple Script Files: The problem Apps Script V8 doesn’t have a module loader system. If you’re used to developing in NodeJs, you’ll also be familiar with importing and exporting to include required modules in your […]

Apps Script V8: Template literals

V8 adds template literals from  JavaScript ES6. Template literals: What are they? It’s a shorthand way of using a template into which variables are substituted in a string. This allows for better reuse of string […]

Apps Script V8: spreading and destructuring

Apps Script V8 adds destructuring from  JavaScript ES6. Legacy Apps Script already had destructuring of arrays added fairly recently, but v8 gives full a destructuring capability. Destructuring: What is it? It’s a way of plucking […]


Vuejs and Vuetify – what does v-on mean

Many things in Vuetify and Vuejs are hard to come to grips with, but for me, none more so that the very odd property v-on and its relationship to v-slot:activator Two things that helped me see […]


I use Vuejs for most front end development. It’s a reactive JavaScript framework, less complex than Angular, Polymer and React, yet still versatile enough to do most of the things you’d need. There’s great support for […]

JavaScript V8 Arrow functions, this and that

Function declarations versus arrow functions JavaScript V8 adds the arrow function declarator from modern JavaScript. This is a handy shorthand but it’s more than just that. There are some behavioral differences too that you’ll need […]

Apps Script

What is Apps Script It’s the language used for extending GSuite and is based on JavaScript. Unlike the JavaScript that runs in your browser, it runs on a Google Server in the cloud, but unlike […]

JavaScript V8 variable scopes

var, const and let One of the key things that V8 has sorted out is the scope of variables. Using var to declare variables meant that anything declared within the scope of a function could […]

Apps Script v8

Apps script now supports JavaScript ES6 Apps Script V8 now supports the same modern JavaScript you can use when writing for the browser. Up until now, you had to write in a dialect of JavaScript-based […]

Using a canvas in Google Sites gadget

Originally I had figured to use HtmlService, along with an Html box, and to render the stats information using SVG. The first problem I ran into was that SVG would be stripped out by caja […]

Using a service account with Firebase in NodeJs

Here’s how to set up a service account to access your firebase data base in admin mode. It’s quite disjointed in the docs, so here it is from start to finish. The console Just as […]

Video transcription with Video Intelligence API

The Video Intelligence API allows you to analyze the content of videos. I covered basic labelling in Google Video Intelligence API film labelling. This section will look at how to get a transcript of a film. It turns […]

jQuery plugin for image special effects

For the badges program, I needed to find a way of graying out badges already awarded to this particular user. As an aside, I am looking up whether a badge has been awarded using the Google Apps Script […]

How to set up your own badge environment

In the various sections in Badges I showed the detail behind creating a badge environment. Now, let’s say you wanted to implement your own badge issuing environment. You can use some or all of the xLiberation environment, […]

Protecting email addresses

I’m using Persona to handle authentication for badges. This is largely because that’s what Mozilla open badges use. However it does mean that I can avoid storing any identifiable data, even though I have to host […]

Google Fusion Big Data and D3 integration: flight data visualization

In Flight Data from Fusion I introduced integration between Google Fusion and D3.js. This next version fixes up a few issues to do with Google Fusion API quotas and limits (see exponential backoff and jquery promises), and […]


jQuery promises and exponential backoff

When using services like Google Fusion API, sometimes you get errors because of over quota attempts – too many requests in too short a time, or the infrastructure is just too busy to service them. […]


Playing around with Tableau Public

With Tableau, you can do loads of visualizations very simply and publish them on “tableau public”. I never tried Tableau before, so I downloaded the tableau public software to play around with. The other day, […]


Visualization of Sites to Tags with d3.js

When we explore a web site, the usual view is that of a tree structure of pages. I wondered if it could be done instead using topics. Which topics are mentioned on a given page? […]


Create biased random test data in VBA

Today’s post is a quick function for creating biased randoms from a list of items and weights. You might need this to create some test data, where the outcomes are not completely random.   Example […]


Digest authentication and Google Apps Script

The other day I was looking around for an example of how to do digest authentication in Google Apps Script (or even plain javascript). I found plenty of theoretical discussions on it, but no actual […]


parse.com and d3.js mashup

Today’s post pulls together a number of concepts I’ve been playing around with lately. As usual my source data and post theme is based on data associated with color schemes – pantone, paint colors etc […]


Connections in electoral data – D3 and VBA follow on from oUseful post

Yesterday I showed how to do some data wrangling in VBA and Google Apps Script that Tony Hirst on his oUseful blog had done using scraperwiki, Open refine plus various APIs. Today he posted a quick analysis using […]


Mashing up electoral data – follow on from oUseful post

I just saw a great post by Tony Hirst on his oUseful blog where he nicely laid out how to use Open refine plus various APIs to research which candidates were standing for election in […]


Finding nearest match and other palettes in other fixed color schemes

Color scheme UI I posted about a color scheme explorer app the other day. Given a specific color, it will find – in a given color scheme such as dulux paint colors, the nearest 5 […]


Parse.com and ScriptDB performance comparison

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of posts to do with messing around with color. I’m using a selection of technologies such as scriptDB, Parse.com, jQuery promises, Google Apps Script, Google Spreadsheets, Google Visualization API and […]


More playing around with color, parse.com, scriptDb and Google Apps Script

API for comparing colors I continue to find the topic of comparing colors a fascinating one. As an experiment to see if I could create a REST API serving up JSON and JSONP from a […]


Very interesting GAS performance results – run locally using htmlservice

A little while ago, I published an item on GAS performance, showing that a complex calculation test would take about 100 times as long on GAS as the same thing in regular javascript running locally […]


Executing Google Apps Script Code directly in javascript – GAS as a CDN

As you know the language of Google Apps Script is javaScript. So you probably have a lot of useful code buried away there, that could be used in web apps. One solution is to copy […]


Google Apps Script “execution time exceeded” woes

Just how slow is Google Apps Script ? I’m a big fan of Google Apps Script, but I’m really fed up of seeing “Execution time exceeded”. Obviously data access times can be unpredictable, and although it […]


Google Apps Script Color Space Conversions.

In Google Apps Script Color functions I introduced a bunch of functions to manipulate various color spaces from GAS. This was a migration from the same thing in VBA. I extended this to include additional color […]


Automatic documentation from VBA – including function arguments

In documenting VBA procedures automatically I showed how to create web pages that documented your VBA projects. I’ve updated that now to also include a popup showing the detail of function arguments too. This page was automatically […]


Using jSon/javaScript like structures in VBA

jSon /VBA functions have always been the most popular topic on the Excel Liberation site and forum. The interesting part about this though is not so much about parsing and stringifying jSon data (which after all is […]


VBA procedures for CIE LabLch and HSL color scheming

In playing around with color in VBA I introduced a bunch of functions to manipulate various color spaces from VBA. Digging into the whole topic a little more, I wondered if it would be possible to […]


Playing around with Color on Google Apps Script

I’m going back to Google Apps Script for today’s post. I’ve been on a little diversion playing around with color  in VBA, so now it’s time to implement some of that in GAS. If you have […]

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