Monday, August 24, 2009

Automating Event-Driven Publishing: Google Scripts Offers Real-Time Triggers

In my Wall Street days, one of the first uses for real-time information feeds into PCs devised by investment banks was to pump them into spreadsheets, which would in turn calculate information that could be republished out to the investment community. It was a very cost-effective way to accomplish a key publishing function without having to rely on armies of programmers to set up these relatively simple functions that a spreadsheet could handle fairly easily.

Fast-forward to today, an era in which cloud computing is beginning to absorb both spreadsheet software and much of the content that can be consumed by software. It should come as no surprise then, that Google's recently launched Google Apps Script capabilities are providing publishing abilities that connect Google Apps spreadsheets to the Web in much the same way that investment banks were using them for business processes many years ago. You can now use script programming in Google's spreadsheets to trigger well-formatted emails to contacts, or to feed Web services - say,, to pick one possible example. More to the point, though, some of the pre-defined scripts include formulas for converting local currencies into foreign currencies and business logic. Hmm, this is not just for casual marketing campaigns, is it.

It would be a far, far jump to say that Google Apps Script is in any sort of position to take on the sophisticated trading environments of investment banks, and, to be truthful, that's probably just as well. But it does point out how easy it has become to use the Web to be a self-programming publishing environment that can support many core business functions with event-driven automated information feeds. As more and more business logic works its way into cloud-driven programming environments, we can expect that both enterprises and enterprise publishers will be adopting these environments as cost-effective ways to deliver more valuable workflow services. Foreign currency trading via Google? Well, those early spreadsheets looked pretty crude at first, also. Watch this space carefully, enterprise publishers, there's more to come.
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