School Announcements Easy is close to being approved by Google Add-ons for use with Sheets. We’re totally psyched!
The story of SAE spans a few years. I got involved with the bulletin at my school when my students started producing a daily bulletin video. I create a simple Google form to gather bulletin items from faculty and staff. This worked well, but there was lot of tedious work involved in managing the content and outputting the required formats. None of it was in my job description or my contract, and nobody told me to do any of this, but I thought it would make the process better for everyone.
After a while I realized I could create code to automate the assembly of the bulletin by using Google Apps Scripts (GAS). Starting in January 2018 I began writing code to create the daily bulletin, manage submissions, and manage completed bulletins. The secretary at my school began using it in March. You should have seen the look on her face when a task that used to take her an hour each day was done in twenty seconds.
At that time we were (and at this writing still are) working from a local copy. But while on a WASC visit I pitched the idea to the administrators in our visiting committee and they all loved the idea. I just didn’t know how to get the app out tot them.
After some time I learned that such things can be pushed out through the Google Add-ons store in Sheets. I committed myself to creating something schools and other organizations could use to automate the process and free up an hour each day for other work.
Further developments included:
- Automatic setup of sheets needed to run the app.
- Development of an external sheet for Quote of the Day items, included as an option in the Create Bulletin function.
- Development to include birthdays from a sheet populated by the user.
- A help sidebar
- A function to remove old bulletin items.
- A function to remove old bulletin sheets.
- Options for formatting, allowing for adding a blank line after headings and bulletin items.
I’d still like to automate the download/print process into a one-click function, as well as color-coding dates within the Form Responses sheet for easy identification of old, current, and future bulletin items.
I expect to have the app approved by Google by May 1, 2018 at the very latest, and begin sharing it with schools for use. It is my plan to make the app free for use up to a certain point, but ask $20 per year for use above a certain level. After all, daily users will save between 100-180 hours per year with this app.