Using Google Spreadsheets as a Lightweight Database

Yes, I have nostalgic feelings for good, old Filemaker.  There, I said it.

I caught this post on the Google Docs blog last week, and thought I’d comment here about it, since it’s such a useful feature enhancement.

The enhancement?  The ability to create short web-forms that you can email out to people, without requiring login.  As users enter the data, it auto-populates the spreadsheet on the back-end.   Check out this explanation from the blog post:

We’re really excited to bring you forms! Create a form in a Google Docs spreadsheet and send it out to anyone with an email address. They won’t need to sign in, and they can respond directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web page. Creating the form is easy: start with a spreadsheet to get the form, or start by creating the form and you’ll get the spreadsheet automatically.

Responses are automatically added to your spreadsheet. You can even keep a closer eye on them by adding the Google Docs forms gadget to your iGoogle homepage, created by software engineers Valerie Blechar and Sarah Beth Eisinger (in her first month at Google!).

I’m not a big iGoogle user, but I could easily see embedding this type of gadget on my LinkedIn homepage.  There are so many simple workplace applications that still come down to the need for a very simple database (not even relational!) and a form-based front-end for users.  In the 1990s, Filemaker Pro was my weapon of choice for that type of problem.  I’ve looked into Quickbase a bit, but the pay-per-seat model through me off a bit.

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

Also, if you know of a good “Filemaker Pro meets Web 2.0” free web service that you like,  let me know.  I’ve got to believe there are dozens of them, since every other great desktop application class has made it to the web.

3 thoughts on “Using Google Spreadsheets as a Lightweight Database

  1. Is there a way to use FMP 11 as a front end to Google Docs / Spreadsheets? I know it can now read/write mysql dbs’ would be cool to somehow hook into the GDocs API with FMP

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