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Santiago Uribe
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 |  December 03, 2014

What if we told you that you could take the old, cumbersome spreadsheet you've been using and, with just a few clicks, your data is now available as an app on your mobile phone? It sounds like magic, right? We promise you it's not. I don't want to get too technical describing the process, but translating your spreadsheet data into a fully functioning mobile application is quite the task! The process takes a good amount of cloud computing power, machine learning, algorithms, and other cool tech-related functions to deliver your app.

We've seen thousands of apps created over the past few months and we want to share some best practices on how to set up your spreadsheet to make it AppSheet-ready. Of course, we recommend that you check out the App Gallery, copy the app that is closest to your particular scenario, and then replace the sample data with your own! But if you are the type of person that likes to start from scratch or that already has a spreadsheet you want to turn into an app, this list is for you.

So, what are some best practices to get my spreadsheet ready for AppSheet?

AppSheet will attempt to understand the structure of your spreadsheet by identifying key markers in your table structure. It means that the more complex your structure is, the more difficult it is for AppSheet to translate it into a working mobile app. Creating easy-to-read tables is paramount for data to be transferred correctly. In order to help the AppSheet algorithms read your app, we recommend that you follow these guidelines when building your tables:

1. Make sure it is a table

TABLE-NOT-TABLE

AppSheet works best when you have a tidy table in your main (first) worksheet. Make sure your columns are clear and, if possible, add five or more rows of data before you publish. Your table should also have a defined set of columns and corresponding headers. AppSheet will read the table in the first worksheet of your spreadsheet to translate it into a mobile app.

2. Provide meaningful titles (headers) to your columns

Meaningful Headers help AppSheet understand the structure of your spreadsheet

Try to use common titles in English (we do plan to support more languages in future releases). For example, if you are adding a column with telephone numbers, it helps AppSheet identify the values in that column as telephones if the title (header) of the column is called Telephone, or Telephones, or Phone Number. If you call it Column, Nbr, or Numero de Telefono, it will be harder to identify the field as a list of telephone numbers.

3. Make sure that the data type format is the same for each cell in the column

Keep the same data format across your column

AppSheet will more quickly recognize the columns if the format of each cell in the column is the same. For example, if you have a column with dates, make sure that all of the cells in the column share the same format. Different formats (date, number, percentage, currency) within the same column will make AppSheet less accurate in identifying the structure of your table.

4. New data should be added as new rows

PIVOT-DATA

Some people like to add new data as new columns. We don't like those people. Ok, we do like these people... but AppSheet doesn't know how to interpret the data in that format. Please keep your table formatted in a vertical way; your new data should be entered as a new row.

5. If it looks tidy, it will probably work great on AppSheet

Bottom line: make sure Appsheet reads a single table as your main source of information and avoid displaying unstructured data, multi-format columns, or data outside of a table. We have great examples of apps and corresponding tables in the AppSheet Template Gallery. We encourage you to browse and copy the apps that best fit your scenarios.

Want to learn more? We have a robust community of app bui Visit out Support page to learn more about AppSheet and to make your business data become truly mobile.

 

Stay tuned to Features, Tips & Webinars for more new features and tips of making powerful apps.

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Santiago Uribe

Santiago is the VP of Product at AppSheet. He is a relentless customer advocate. He loves building partnerships and driving customer adoption. Prior to AppSheet, Santiago worked at Microsoft, got an MBA from CMU and worked in international trade development in New York and Bogota, Colombia.

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