For anyone who has ever tried to create a web interface for a database, you know that doing it yourself means either coding using a PHP/MySQL pairing, or using something like Microsoft Access in conjunction with a SharePoint site. However, I have recently discovered a free and extremely easy way to set up a database querying web interface using Google Sheets in conjunction with a Google Gadget called Awesome Tables. The best part is, you don’t even need to mess around with Google Apps Script!
If you already have a Google Site, than creating the interface for your database is as easy as adding the Awesome Tables gadget to a page in your Google Site, and linking it to a Google spreadsheet (which you use as the database). If you don’t already have a Google Site, you can set one up here: https://sites.google.com.
Here is a link to the Awesome Tables documentation: http://goo.gl/2f0bX. Probably the most important part is to configure your spreadsheet so that the column headers for your data are in row one, and your data filters are in row two. The data to be queried follows below.
There are many types of interfaces you can make, however I wanted to make a simple word search tool which would return the CEFR Levels of vocabulary which was queried by it. You can see the result, below.
As of this date, Google allows up to 2 million cells worth of data to be entered into their spreadsheets. Below you can see the 14,068 word database which the Awesome Table gadget above is querying it’s data from. Even though I am using two cells for each vocabulary item, it looks like I still have space to add another 985,932 items. There is talk that this method is slow to return results compared with a traditional MySQL database application; however, with my relatively small list of words so far, this system seems to be functioning quickly enough.
After trying various other methods, using Awesome Tables in conjunction with a Google spreadsheet has been by far the quickest and easiest method I have found to get a database querying web app up and running. The example shown above is fairly simple, however there are many options I have yet to explore within the Awesome Tables gadget, including the use of images as part of the queried data. In addition to the querying of data, Awesome Tables can be paired with a Google Form to allow users to enter new data in a controlled manner. If anyone wishes to share their own database creation using Awesome Tables, please do so below. I look forward to seeing what other useful teaching tools our readers can create!