Google Script: Enterprise Application Essentials – A good how-to, with typos – #bookreview #in #programming

Google Script: Enterprise Application Essentials
By James Ferreira
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $29.99)

Google Script is a JavaScript-based programming language that can give you a complete web-based development platform that doesn’t require downloads, configuration or compiling.

If you have some modest coding experience and basic familiarity with JavaScript, this useful book can help you learn how to develop enterprise applications using Google Script. It focuses “extensively on the concept of using Google Script to build applications that present themselves as web services running independently of other interfaces.”

However, if you are trying to jump into learning Google Script without “basic familiarity with JavaScript,” you may end up throwing this book against the wall in frustration and quitting too soon.

The book’s goal is to show you how to use Google Script in ways that can extend Google Apps to fit your organization’s needs. For instance, you can learn how to add certain functionalities to spreadsheets, Gmail, and some other Google services.

And, like all how-to programming books, this one starts out at the requisite “Hello World” level.

Unfortunately, there are typos in three of the early “Hello World” code examples. So, if you don’t realize that var application actually is supposed to be var app, what you type in will not run.

Soon after that, if you are new to Google menus, Google Apps and Google Script, you may not know what to do once you reach the “Using the GUI Builder” discussion. You are simply instructed: “From a Sites page, click the “More actions” menu on the upper-right.” What is left unsaid here is that you first have to poke around and find Google Sites, then use its options and templates to create and configure a website and set it so the outside world can’t see it or modify it. Then, with a bit more muddling around, you can now find the “More actions” menu and begin to follow the author’s steps.

Once I finally divined how to get to this point, I typed in the code example and puzzled over some instructions that seemed less than clear. Then I ran the code, and yes, it did not run.

The code example had var application again, when it was supposed to be var app. After I made the change and saved the file, the code finally worked.

I have not yet tested other examples of the book’s code, because I don’t know how well they have been proofread. For example, I have spotted the var application typo again on page 57 of the print edition.

Still, I will continue to use and learn from this book, and I recommend it to others – for the features, concepts and how-to steps it introduces and explains.

But I add a strong caveat for Google Script / JavaScript newcomers. Pay close attention to the book’s errata page posted here and refer to the Google Apps Script Tutorials site when entering and testing the code examples.

Hopefully, the next edition of this book will feature better proofreading of its code and perhaps some clearer how-to steps at the “Hello World” level.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir available soon in paperback. He also is the author of a detective novel, Erwin’s Law, a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.