As I continue working on my School Sports project I am discovering some pretty cool stuff when it comes to displaying content on Google Docs as part of a WordPress based site. I am particularly interested in this because lots of people make lists in Excel and making lists in Google Docs is basically the same process just done via a Web Browser instead of Excel.
Our Middle School has 10 sports (6 girls, 4 boys) teams. Each has a different coach and along with one or more parents who help coordinate things like concessions, team banquets, weather updates, time changes, etc. If you’ve been involved with youth or school sports, you know how much things change and information needs to be communicated to parents and participants.
I cannot envision training 12-20 people to manage content on a web site and have any prayer of the content keeping any sort of consistent look and feel. I need a solution that is low touch (for me) but simple enough that anyone who can create a spreadsheet can keep a fair amount of content up to date.
Which brings me to Google Docs. It turns out Google makes it pretty easy to publish content from Google Docs (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) in a form that can be embedded on another web site. This will allow me to have content owners have to do nothing more than keep a couple spreadsheets up to date in order to keep the web site updated. While this works pretty well, the downside of this solution is the control over the look and feel of what Google will allow you to embed is pretty limited.
There are a couple of Google Docs plugins but it looks like Google Inline Spreadsheet Viewer will do exactly what I want. This plugin allows you to add Google Docs spreadsheets to your pages and posts using a shortcode. The resulting output has a plethora of CSS classes which means styling the spreadsheet content (which is displayed as a table) to be consistent with your theme is pretty straight forward.
The only issue I’ve encountered so far is empty cells on the spreadsheet don’t seem to be output at all, not even as an empty table cell. I think this only happens when the empty spreadsheet cells are at the end of a row of data. If there are populated cells later in the row it seems to work fine. This was a minor issue for me, one I fixed by simply populating the spreadsheet with a reasonable value.