Before the advent of the spreadsheet back in 1979, people didn't really understand what the personal computer was for. Since then, spreadsheets have come a long way — they've eaten the businesses across the world, and they're the de-facto way for anyone to quickly program a computer.
While spreadsheet software has evolved over the years — first VisiCalc, then Lotus, Excel and now Google Sheets — the core abstractions have remained the same. They’re flexible, intuitive, and timeless.
But these abstractions make spreadsheets bad at certain tasks. In particular, entering data is error-prone (no validation), and building interactive interfaces is difficult. You could get a spreadsheet to do almost anything, but you probably shouldn't.
Retool is a fast way of building UIs and internal tools. And ever since we launched, people have been asking us to connect to various data sources — most notably Google Sheets. That's where many internal tools start.
Starting from today, you can connect Retool to Google Sheets. That lets you build internal tools on top of any Google Sheet, in just a few minutes.
For example, if you’re doing sales, you can pull in your Google Sheet of leads and send each one a personalized email via the press of a button. If you’re a delivery company, you can have operators submit orders via Google Sheets, and then build a UI to run an API request for each row.
We're excited about this — Google Sheets is probably the lowest-friction way to store and use structured data online. So this integration dramatically reduces the amount of work it takes to build internal tools.
Demo: Building a tool to contact leads
Let's say you're a VC. During an accelerator's recent "demo day", you recorded a list of companies that look promising. Using a full-blown CRM to compile this list would be overkill, so you used Google Sheets:
Now, you want to go through each company and send them a follow-up email. Before, you’d have to write every email by hand.
But now, with Retool, you can build an app on top of your Sheets data, and fire off an email for each one.
Here’s the final completed app. Feel free to click around on different rows, enter in your email address, send some emails, etc. This actually works! (And was actually built in Retool, haha.)
Enrich data from Google Sheets
Retool lets you pull in and combine data from different sources including your databases and APIs. If you have some data in Google Sheets, you can enrich it by joining it to data from your own database.
For example, you could enrich your list of leads above with data from your own Gmail, such that it shows when you last contacted each person.
Export data into Google Sheets for analysis
Spreadsheets are the tool of choice for many analysts (business/finance/data) to quickly manipulate data. If you have internal data in databases/APIs, you can quickly build a Retool to export it to Google Sheets. This is useful when you want to quickly create financial models in Sheets based on data you have in your database / API.
For example, you could model different growth scenarios for your company, based on the data you have in Stripe. You can create a tool to generate new Sheets (with your template for financial modeling). And because your templates have pre-existing formulas + structure, the new data will flow into them, and all your forecasts will be refreshed with your new numbers.
Connecting to Google Sheets is available to all Retool users starting today. Let us know if you've got any feedback — we love talking to users!