With a background as an engineer, I have to admit that one of my default computer tools is a spreadsheet. I have a spreadsheet for my family budget, a spreadsheet tracking how many miles I have walked this year (I have walked over 1,500 and am aiming for 5 miles a day or 1,825 miles in 2015), and I use spreadsheets almost daily to track information about the quilts I make. I have a spreadsheet for each commissioned quilt that I use to calculate the final price. And I use spreadsheets to help me with quilt related math.
Recently, I even shared one of my spreadsheets with the quilting community in the form of the Equilateral Triangle Quilt Calculator. I really wanted to make the calculator a tool that could be easily used, downloaded, and accessible through my website, and I was really excited to find a way to do that. So today, I am giving an overview of how you, too, can embed spreadsheets into your blog or website.
Microsoft Online vs Google Docs
There are other spreadsheet tools available, but I want to focus on the main two choices that you have available: Microsoft and Google. As I have Microsoft Office installed on my computer (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), I tend to use them as my default tools. However, you do not have to shell out money to have access to these kind of tools. Google Docs provides free online resources for documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, and forms. Microsoft has also recently made some of the functionality of their tools available online as well via Microsoft Office Online. One drawback of Microsoft Office Online is that not all of the functionality is available online. Functionality like worksheet protection, which I used to keep users from accidentally overwriting the formulas for the output in the Equilateral Triangle Quilt Calculator.
The details on how to embed these tools into your webpages can be found in the links below, and it really is as simple as pasting in some HTML, which every major blog host allows (even finicky wordpress.com, who hosts my site)!
Just linking to the instructions for how to embed seems a bit too easy, so I thought I would walk you through a nifty example. So, let’s play with a Google Form. Google Forms are fun because the outputs are saved in a Google Sheet, so we get to explore two different embed options!
First, I created a simple example form with two yes and no questions. Once the form was created, I went to File > Embed… (as shown in the screen shot above) and pasted the HTML code below. Feel free to fill out the form below!
I went ahead and populated a few responses in the form so that I could then manipulate the output Google Sheet as well. To get the embed code from a Google Sheet requires a few more steps. First, Select File > Publish to the web…
Then click on “Embed” (the default is “Link”) to get the HTML code to paste into your webpage.
And as you can see above, I added in two fun charts to show the distribution of Yes versus No in the responses to the form. And I have found a bug! The charts are not updating in the embedded format. The form responses update, but not the graphs. Very interesting.
To close, I thought I would add in additional sources for you to refer to if you don’t know how to embed HTML in your particular blog host.
I hope this gives you some ideas and tips on how to incorporate new tools into your blogging “toolkit”!