Google Sheets Powers My Restaurant & Jazz Club

Six years ago I did probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done.  I bought a restaurant and started a jazz club. What’s crazier is that I started this club in the small town of North Bend Washington. Never heard of it?  Well, Twin Peaks was filmed here.  That’s probably our claim to fame.  Plus now, Boxleys is rated one of the Best Jazz Clubs in the World by Downbeat Magazine, 5 years in a row.

So here is the deal.  I have a full time job.  This jazz club thing is both a hobby and a passion for me, sharing the music that love along with some great food and wine. People ask me all the time, “why did you start a Jazz club here”.  My answer is simple,  “I live here”.  

Now six years into this endeavor our restaurant is community owned by a non-profit organization called the Boxley Music Fund. That’s pretty cool. But what I think is really awesome is that our venue is managed almost entirely by part time staff using Google Spreadsheets and Cloudward CloudSnippets.  That’s correct. Let me run down the list of things that Boxleys uses Google Spreadsheets for.

Who’s playing at Boxley’s Tonight?

If you visit Boxleys website, the first thing you are greeted by is who’s playing tonight.  This is a rotating banner starting with today and goes through the next couple weeks. If you click on any image, you can make  a reservation for that night.

This banner is a Google Sheet powered Cloud Snippet. (Maybe I should say that the other way around).

Clicking on the banner takes to you reservations for that night.

This content is all managed by a Google Spreadsheet that a part time assistant updates 1 to 2 times a month.  The Spreadsheet looks like this.

schedule.png

All the content is in the sheet.  The images usually come from the musicians website and she just pastes the URL in the right column for them.  The start and end dates determine when the banners show up.

Scrolling through the Month

Visitors on our website can see descriptions of everyone thats coming, on the Music Tab. This is the same format for the data, but in list format not a rotating banner.  Just scroll down the page and see.

Here it is:

http://www.boxleysplace.com/web/music.espx

The cool thing is that my assistant updates 1 spreadsheet and the content is updated in multiple places using Cloud Snippets. Yay!

What’s for Dinner?

Want to know what’s for dinner? Our chef updates the menu every day and he uses a Google Sheet to do that.  

Here is the spreadsheet.

menu-spreadsheet.png

But wait… it get’s cooler.

Our point of sale system is Web Based. Servers carry iPad’s around the restaurant and take orders at the table.  The same menu is loaded into the POS via a snippet we customized.  

Chef updates menu, goes on website and into the point of sale.

Cloud Snippets and Sheets in action. This is Nancy taking an order on her iPad.

Printed Menu’s?

You guessed it.  We made another snippet that outputs the same spreadsheet data so we can print menus.

Awesome? Yeah!

More Snippets… More Sheets!

Other ways we use snippets and sheets.

  • Our Time Clock
  • The staff timeclock is a snippet that saves data to a Google Sheet.
  • Sending payroll to PayChex is a snap!
  • Scheduling
  • The floor manager uses Google Sheets to do staff schedules
  • Special Events
  • Special event requests are a Cloud Snippet that saves to a Google Sheet and sends an email to the special events manager and a confirmation to the requestor
  • Sponsors
  • We are a non-profit and our sponsors banners and advertisements are displayed using Sheets and Snippets just like the upcoming musicians
  • More?
  • Any interim thing that I need done or managed – I use a Cloud Snippet and a Sheet

What Does Dinner Look Like?

So our latest addition is a photo gallery powered by Cloud Snippets and a Google Sheet.  I may change that to just use one of the Google Drive Cloudward Snippets. Regardless, it’s cool.

How Cool is That?

The ability to use Google Sheets and Cloud Snippets makes it so we can have several people manage different content when it’s convenient for them.  These are real time saving and super practical solutions.  Just one example is updating the Point of Sale.  It used to take lots of time. Now it’s only minutes. And the same sheet updates the website, printed menu’s and the point of sale.  Really awesome!

Check out Boxleys here.

www.boxleys.club

Also, here are some of the snippets I use from Cloudward.

Using Google Docs to manage web pages is just about the coolest thing… ever!

Why I absolutely love how practical this is; using Google Docs to manage web page content.

I keep saying to myself;  “How cool is this? I update a Google Doc and my website is updated…”   It’s absolutely great! And here is why…

#1 – Simple changes are super fast

Need to make a minor change to your website?  If you are using a Cloud Snippet all you need to do is go to Google Docs and update the doc. Bam! Done. Super fast.  

#2 – You want someone else to do it

Suppose you run a small business and you don’t have time to do everything.  So you get a part time assistant that you want to update a page on your website.  And suppose that person isn’t the most savvy when it comes to learning how to use tools to update a website. Use a Cloudward Cloud Snippet to publish a specific Google Doc to a specific page, and share it with your assistant.  Awesome!

#3 – You want someone to update a webpage but you don’t want to give them your passwords

Perhaps you barely know your new assistant, or perhaps your assistant is your mother.  Bottom line is that you don’t want to share your password.  In either case, the solution is the same as above.  Use a Cloud Snippet and share the doc.  Bam!

#4 – You want to delegate

Suppose you run a small business and you don’t have time to do everything.  

Same solution.

#5 – The shoe is on the other foot

You are involved in a local non profit and they want you to update a few pages on their website.  Last thing you need is to remember more passwords and stuff.  You can create a Cloud Snippet in your account, with your Google Doc to update the content; and send them the Snippet Code to paste on the pages you are supposed to update.  From that point on, just update the Google Doc and Bam!

#6 – A group of people need to update the same website

Same scenario but more people involved?  Let’s say you are part of a non profit with different committees.  And each committee has a page on the website that needs to get updated.  Create a snippet for each page and a corresponding Google Doc.  Share those Docs with the correct person, and BAM!  How cool is that?  Everyone updates what they need to and not everyone needs access to the web admin tools.

#7 – Sharing the doc and getting help

I’m writing this very blog post in Google Docs.  Thats cool.  And I am going to post it on a blog that’s a snippet.  Cool as well.  After I do my draft, I will share my Google Doc with someone else to help me proof read the post – then make it public.  All in Google Docs and Sheets.  

#8 – Going Mobile?

Google Docs already has mobile editors for Android and iOS devices.  You can update your doc on the fly or start a new blog post.  Just like I’m editing this post right now.

#9 – My mom can do it

My mom uses Google Docs.

#10 – One doc many pages

If you need to publish the same content on many web pages or websites you can use a Cloud Snippet to syndicate that doc and keep it up to date everywhere.  You can paste your snippet code on as many pages as you want and it works.  Awesome yet again!

#11 – Even YouTube!

I can even embed YouTube videos into my Google Docs and Cloudward Snippets will process them.  I just take the embed code from YouTube and add a Cloudward EASE Tag # youtube where the / iframe is.

Here is the embed code:

Change the tags like this…


And it works… like so!

The bottom line

This is so easy, anyone can manage it.  

For myself I used to blog a lot.  But I fell off the bandwagon years ago because I hated logging on to the website tools to post the blog.  I had ideas to share, but I just wasn’t that motivated to go through the extra steps.  So I would write and write… usually in Google Docs, but stopped publishing. This is so much easier.

For me, using Cloud Snippets and Google docs to manage web pages is just about the coolest thing ever!

Check them out here:

Publish Google Doc by ID with Cloud Snippets

-d

Danny in Tech News: Betanews.com

Original article available here:
http://betanews.com/2015/02/26/cloud-hosted-script-library-simplifies-web-development/


Cloud-hosted script library simplifies web development

 By Ian Barker


Developers often find themselves repeatedly going over the same ground when it comes to adding functionality like forms or product pages.

California-based Cloudward is aiming to make life easier for web app developers with the launch of Cloud Snippets. These are cloud-hosted scripts, powered by Google Cloud Services, that allow anyone to instantly add forms, surveys, landing pages, ecommerce product listings, and more using the simplicity of Google Docs, Sheets, and Drive.

Developers can add a Cloud Snippet to any website, including platforms like WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace and Wix, or any HTML page. All they have to do is copy and paste the JavaScript code and publish it. Cloud Snippets also gives developers the code allowing them to make customizations as required.

“Cloud Snippets are important because they allow anybody to easily build an independent, embeddable web app,” says Cloudward co-founder and CTO Danny Kolke. “For the first time, a web designer or developer has the power to build sophisticated web functions without having to know PHP, Python, Java, etc. Small agencies and web designers can use Cloud Snippets to gain big-agency capabilities. Small businesses can easily add complex functionality to their websites. And enterprises gain development flexibility”.

Cloudward has set up a Snippet Store which has lots of free snippets for developers to get started. It intends to open this up as a marketplace for other web designers and developers to build and sell their own custom snippets.

Current snippets include one to create a content slideshow by taking images and tagline descriptions from a Google Sheet and displaying them in a slider, and one to take addresses from a Google Sheet and display each on a map with a marker and an information window.

You can find out more about Cloud Snippets on the Cloudward website.

Photo Credit: dencg/Shutterstock

Danny in Tech News: Geekwire.com

Cloudward launches Cloud Snippets to ease website customization

Original article available here:
http://www.geekwire.com/2015/cloudward-launches-cloud-snippets-to-ease-website-customization/

BY BLAIR HANLEY FRANK on February 26, 2015 at 9:13 am

1 Comment  Share  87  Tweet  30  Share  11  Reddit  Pin

People who want to extend the functionality of their website have a new option to choose from today. Cloudward, a Bay Area based cloud services company that has an engineering office in Seattle, just unveiled a Cloud Snippets product that allows people to take a small snippet of JavaScript to expand what their website can do.

Users can get the snippets, which work in a manner similar to what Google uses for its AdSense and Analytics tools, from Cloudward’s online store. At launch, Cloudward is seeding its snippet marketplace with more than 30 free first-party snippets, but the company also has a system that lets third party developers build and sell their own snippets.

Cloudward CTO Danny KolkeCloudward CTO Danny Kolke

One of Cloudward CTO Danny Kolke’s favorite snippets allows users to insert the contents of a Google Doc into a web page and make the text look like it belongs on the page. It’s an interesting tool for both technical and nontechnical people who work with the web. Using that snippet, people can easily edit a page’s contents without having to wrangle with a content management system, or even worse, actually interact with a page’s raw HTML.

Users who need different functionality from what Cloud Snippets offers off the shelf can build their own snippets or customize existing ones using Cloudward’s simplified EASE syntax. (That language was actually the basis for the system that would become Cloud Snippets.)

The Cloud Snippets service is priced according to how much people use it. People who get fewer than 1,000 hits a month on pages with Snippets will be able to use the service for free, while hardcore developers can sign up for the top of the line monthly plan that lets the manage an unlimited number of snippets for as many properties as they want.

Those limits may sound harsh, but Kolke said small businesses that just want to publish a single doc or power a single form on one page of their site.

“Since this isn’t usually the entire website, those hits go a long way, because it would just be a specific page on the entire website that it’s on,” he said.

Right now, the system is tightly integrated with Google’s stack, in part because Cloud Snippets is built on top of the Google Cloud Platform. But in the future, the company is interested in expanding beyond Google’s offerings, and is also open to working with developers on its platform to expand Cloud Snippets’ capabilities.

“At the end of the day, it’s a JavaScript implementation on somebody’s website,” Kolke said. “So, any developer that knows JavaScript, we can work with them on expanding into other APIs and other markets as we develop this further.”

Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. Follow him on Twitter @belril and email him atblair@geekwire.com.

CEO Tip – It’s Okay to lose your Balance

I have an adverse reaction every time I hear someone give advice about living a balanced life. It doesn’t matter who it is, it drives me crazy. I was talking with my pastor and it finally occurred to me what it is.

It seems that this concept of “balance” teaches that there is the perfect middle ground between your priorities that allows you to stay “balanced”.  That if you “balance” your life you can be happier in everything you do.  Not only is it technically impossible to live a balanced life it’s a total farce as a recipe for happiness or success.  

Balance implies every priority is of equal weight in your life. Balance also implies that time spent should be proportionate to your priorities. After all, if something is important to you – you should spend more time on it. I believe both of these assumptions are flat wrong.  Let’s see if I can articulate why.

Suppose I was going to proportionately distribute my time to things that are important to me. My wife is more important to me than my job, so I should spend more waking hours with her than work.  My children are more important to me than my career, so I should spend more time with them than work.  My parents, same thing.  My brothers, my friends, dittos. And then there is my music and writing and composing are also more important to me.  

If I were to live a balanced life, economically speaking I would be a bum. Actually, I’d have no time to be a bum.  My faith in God is my most important thing so I’d be a monk instead, seek exclusion and abandon all other priorities in my life and spend all my time with him.

Maybe that sounds a little extreme.  So lets take a look at this “balance” thing with another approach. Perhaps I am supposed to give all of my priorities equal value?  In that model my wife is equal to my work, etc.  Let’s just stop right there. That won’t work for me at all.

If I am to lead a “balanced life” I either need to spend more time in each area of my life that is important to me and less where it’s not or I need to admit that my life is out of balance. While I would love to spend more time in areas that are important to me, I still choose the later.

I believe in being out of balance.  I believe in being passionate. Out of balance allows me to focus at what needs to get done when it needs to get done. Balance is a principle that leads to moderation and eventually the withering and contraction of good things.

I maintain that being out of balance is a God made principle that creates growth in nature, in relationships, in education, in every area. When you boil water you don’t “balance” the water temperature.  When an airplane takes off from the runway, it doesn’t do it at a balanced speed.  It takes tremendous energy overcoming great resistance to do a thing of any significance.

I like to call these periods of being out of balance “seasons”.  Just like there is a season to plant and a season to harvest there is a season to work hard, and there is a season to play hard.  But this principle does not only apply to planting and harvest time. It’s seasons that make life work.  You don’t balance it out and say, “we just planted 5 minutes now it’s time to harvest 5 minutes.” How absurd is that?

If you make the assertion that less time spent means less value, you are wrong.  It’s impossible to balance your life in this way. Based on that assumption, I should never leave home.  And there is a multitude of things I should never waste my time on because their value is insignificant compared to what’s really important.  I work because I love my family, I love my friends, I work to serve others and in a season of work I am out of balance because of my priorities.

So in Danny’s world, time spent has nothing to do with balance or value.  The second it takes to plant a seed is not equal to the time it takes to grow the seed or the time to harvest.  Which is most important?  Can you have any harvest without the time it takes to plant that seed?

But it’s not just my world in which this “balance” thing doesn’t work. The concept of balance is foolish especially when it comes to economics and politics.  A balanced vote is a no pass.  A balanced government is non decisive.   A balanced view of liberty means you are not free 50% of the time. Balance in a spiritual sense means you are in heaven 50% and hell 50%? Balance is not a good thing in any circumstance where goodness is what is being balanced.  

We can not equally distribute our lives among the things we value, we must be out of balance. Balance is for mediocrity,  I want to be out of balance.  I want to live.

It’s foolish in my mind to try to balance your life because priorities should not be of equal weight. And concerning time management, you  cannot be balanced between your priorities because sometimes it just takes more time to do things that aren’t very important.  

One final thought on balance.  If you believe that balance is a good thing, odds are that you believe you can mitigate the affects of bad decisions, policies or even destructive behavior with balance. That there is an equilibrium that exists.  If I balance my drinking, I won’t become an alcoholic.  The absurdity of this statement is that you don’t spend 50% of your time drinking to become an alcoholic.  Nor does it take drinking 50% of your liquids.  And if someone is an alcoholic, they don’t stop being an alcoholic through moderation.  They have to get out of balance and stop drinking all together.

I’m not saying that you should drink obsessively, that’s even more absurd.  I am saying that the principle of balance is bogus.  The concept of balance as a means to avoid obsessive  excessive behavior is a bogus principle.  It doesn’t work.  You cannot balance or mitigate the affects of a destructive behavior or policy.  You can’t balance it.

It’s an excuse for not taking responsibility and not being accountable.  Whether in relationships, social governance, or drug addiction – balance is an excuse for letting something happen with the false assumption that you can contain the affects.

In conclusion

Personal accountability requires at times for you to be out of balance and that’s a good thing.  In fact, you cannot balance your life.  Sometimes you cannot chose the seasons and sometimes you can. You have to invest in what’s important and sometimes you have to do things that are a complete waste of time. That’s part of the seasons. Don’t deceive yourself with “balance” to make your life work.  You have to make it work.  You have to take action.  

More importantly don’t use balance as an excuse for mediocrity.  You are better than that.  

I probably have angered some of you who are balanced-life believers or advocates.  I don’t really know what to say about that. Perhaps if you believe in it to the level that it would upset you, you are probably out of balance yourselves.

Hmmm.  Now it’s time for me to get back to work.  And I feel good about that decision.  I am supposed to be out of balance right now.

-d