Use Google Sheet as a free online database for prototyping

I really like prototyping, since I can quickly show a clickable version of an idea that’s floating around my head. But the pain of setting up an environment for that is sometimes too expensive and less attractive. Recently I found a cheap way to using a database that I wanted to share.

Google Drive is a great way of keeping a virtual collection of documents. I especially appreciate small incentives like them offering a dashboard with the online status of each service, and we can easily see that it’s quite a reliable solution for most needs. Another (less popular) use of Google documents is that of an online database to feed data to other applications. I was very happy to discover it has quite a bit of support for the Sheets by having an API exposed.

An added cool factor is the fact that we can access data as json to adding alt=json in the URL query params. And it gets even better, we can also pass a callback by adding alt=json-in-script&callback=handcraftedCallback to have data wrapped to handcraftedCallback.

Some basic things we should note in the setup are the permissions.
For this example I’ve set up a harmless spreadsheet to toy around with.
On the first attempt to access it via this URL the response will be an error saying “We’re sorry. This document is not published.”

This needs us to publish the document to web.

After we access the dialog screen,

then we click “Start publishing”,

then we confirm our choice in the dialog.