I’ve recently returned from a fantastic week in San Francisco at Google’s Cloud Next ’19 conference, which is their annual Cloud conference for developers and vendors. It’s a huge event, with some 30,000+ attendees and 500 sessions.
Google made a 122 announcements, including some exciting developments relating to Google Sheets.
Here are the talks from the Google Cloud Next 19 conference that related to Google Sheets:
1. 30 Ways Google Sheets Can Help Your Company Uncover and Share Data Insights
If you only watch one session from next and you’re a Google Sheets user, then I’d recommend this one. It’s really well presented look at the capabilities of Google Sheets in the context of working with data and the Sheets team give plenty of sneak peeks into where the tool is going.
Here are the new features we can expect to see in the future:
Images in cells: allows you to add images anchored inside a cell, not just free-floating, and without needing to use the IMAGE function
Trim Whitespace: natively remove whitespace around data in cells, instead of having to use formulas
Remove Duplicates: natively remove duplicates without needing to use an add-on or manual formula methods
Slicers: controls to add filters to pivot tables and charts
Reports & Themes: features to make dashboard reports easier in Sheets
OnPrem data connectors: data connectors to other SQL databases to easily access data from Sheets
Connected sheets: easily connect Sheets to BigQuery and use Sheets functionality, like pivot tables, formulas and charts, with millions or even billions of rows of data inside BigQuery. The presenters showed an incredible demonstration of running a pivot table on 128 million rows of data!
View and edit history of individual cells: see how cells have changed over time
Embedding Sheets in Docs and Slides
MS Office Editing: work on Office files straight from G Suite without having to convert file types
Legacy keyboard shortcuts
2. How to Grow a Spreadsheet into an Application
Most of us use spreadsheets beyond simple data tasks. We build to-do lists, address books, scheduling apps, bug trackers, etc. Eventually, however, there comes a time when you need something more robust than a standalone Google Sheet, and this talk explores that journey, from single Google Sheet to full-blown application.
3. How to Simplify Business Processes with G Suite
4. Google Docs: Taking Collaboration Beyond Real Time
5. Open Doors to ML: How AAA Leverages BQML and Google Sheets to Predict Call Volume
An interesting session looking at how AAA uses BigQuery and Machine Learning to create predictive models that everyone can access through the Google Sheets interface. It was fascinating to see how Google Sheets has been positioned as the final step of the big data/machine learning pipelines.
6. Bring Your Favorite Enterprise Apps to G Suite with the New G Suite Add-ons
For Add-On developers, there was a big announcement about the new G Suite Add-Ons, which should make developers lives easier:
1.35 PM – Growing a spreadsheet into an application
Really interesting talk about the life cycle of a spreadsheet, and how it grows into an application, and how you can move beyond the spreadsheet to a more robust, scalable solution.
11 AM – Data Studio meetup
A bunch of Data Studio enthusiasts and Googlers got together to discuss the product and the roadmap. Great to get some insight into where it’s going. They’re certainly investing heavily in Data Studio!
9 AM – Simplify Business Processes with G Suite session
Some really interesting use-cases of businesses adopting G Suite, and how it’s simplifying and streamlining their processes.
The BigQuery to Google Sheets connector is getting a lot of love! 👉
The team also shared some innovative and wide-ranging examples of App Maker apps. For example, here’s an App Maker app that can recognize text in a photo and transfer that into a Google Doc for you!
It’s the final day of Google Next 19 😥
Video replay of yesterday’s Sheets session!
The video replay of yesterday’s Google Sheets session is now on YouTube. This is highly recommended if you have 45 minutes. In it, the Product Managers from Google share the Google Sheets roadmap:
Lots of updates from the Data Studio team and a great demonstration of how quick the tool is to analyze a hundred million rows of data, when using the new BigQuery BI Engine between BigQuery and Data Studio.
The other big updates included a sophisticated chart drill-down and cross-filtering features and more insight into the scheduled distribution of reports.
It’s very clear that Google are investing heavily in this tool!
2.10 PM – BQML and Google Sheets
This was a really interesting session on how AAA utilize BigQuery and the new BigQuery ML (Machine Learning) tool to predict volume at call centers. They use the BigQuery connector to bring the analytical capabilities into Sheets, to open access to the model to many more people across the organization.
12.30 PM – Google Sheets Session
Wow! So many big features in the pipeline:
How we work with data in Google Sheets is changing. Some of the biggest announcements were (some available in beta today, some coming in future):
Connected Sheets for BigQuery (see Product Keynote below)
On Prem data connectors – oracle, mysql, postgres databases direct into Sheets
Native remove duplicates feature
Reports!Easily create beautiful reports, including Themes feature
See and Edit history of a cell
Embedding Sheets into Docs/Slides
More to come…
9 AM – Product Keynote
Good to see G Suite get a lot of stage time!
Probably the most exciting feature for Sheets users is a new feature in #GoogleSheets, called Connected Sheets, lets you collaborate on up to 10 billion rows of BigQuery data right from within Sheets (without needing SQL!) –> more details and apply for beta access now
Other big announcements included:
G Suite integration with Google Assistant (beta)
G Suite Add-ons (beta coming soon)
Office editing in Docs, Slides and Sheets (generally available)
Day 1 was all about enterprise, enterprise, enterprise. Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, announced a new product, Anthos, available for managing multi-cloud solutions.
For me personally, this enterprise stuff is really interesting but not directly relevant. The highlight of the day was meeting a bunch of great folks and sharing ideas, beginning by serendipitously sitting next to a data scientist from MailChimp for the opening keynote.
Tomorrow, the focus is more on product and developers!
There are sessions focused on Sheets (new announcements hopefully!), combining BigQuery with Sheets and finally, Data Studio. So I should have a lot more substantive updates to share here on the blog tomorrow 🙂
4PM – Checking out the Vendor Hall
The scale of this conference is pretty overwhelming!
1 PM – 3.30 PM – G Suite Product Feedback session
One of the benefits of becoming a Google Developer Expert is that I get to meet some of the Google Project Managers and give product feedback directly.
This afternoon we had a big round table with most of the G Suite and Apps Script GDEs and the respective Product Managers and Developer Relations team from Google.
It was a lively discussion and great to see Google listening to all our feedback. There’s lots of exciting stuff in the pipeline, some of which will be announced at Next, some later this year.
Unfortunately I can’t share any specifics now, but I’ll certainly share anything that gets announced at the sessions tomorrow!
11 AM – The Non-Engineer Guide to BigQuery
Interesting presentation, although totally different to what I expected.
I was expecting more of an introduction to using BigQuery and how to approach it for product managers, analysts, managers etc. (i.e. non-engineers).
Instead it was an demonstration of a super cool tool Viant have built on top of BigQuery to democratize access to data across their organization. Their tool – potens.io – allows you to build workflows to query data in BigQuery including business logic, API integration and script outputs (like emails if certain results are obtained). Interesting stuff for sure!
I look forward to diving into BigQuery (someday soon!) and start creating content here.
9 AM – Keynote
I managed to get into the hall for the keynote this year. The sheer number of people filing in and out of the Moscone center was still overwhelming.
Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google) kicked things off before new Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, took over and laid out his vision for Google Cloud.
Unsurprisingly, and understandably given Google’s position in the cloud race behind Amazon and Microsoft, the focus was entirely on Enterprise solutions and multi-cloud solutions. Not much mention of G Suite…yet.
Monday, April 8th (T – 1 Day)
6.30 PM – Next ’19 Community Dinner
Tonight Google hosted a community dinner for the Google Developer Experts in their offices downtown.
It was great to catch up with fellow Apps Script and G Suite GDEs and hear what everyone’s up to.
Everyone is using the CLASP, the Command Line Apps Script interface, with their code editors of choice. This allows for a much improved development environment over the native Apps Script one. And we’re all waiting to see if there’s any vision on the Apps Script roadmap and a timeline when the new runtime engine will come in (which will make scripts run a lot faster).
Lunch in Chinatown with David Siegel, CEO and co-founder of Glide Apps. Glide Apps let you turn your Google Sheets into mobile apps, with no coding required.
Registration day! If you’re attending and you have a chance to collect your badge today then I highly recommend. Tomorrow the lines will be pretty long…
I’ve got my badge!
The billboards all around the SOMA district of San Francisco are plastered with the conference ads. It’s crazy how big this event is. I’ve heard there’ll north of thirty thousand attendees. Wow!
Sunday, April 7th (T – 2 Days)
The Google Next 19 conference is almost here!
I arrived in San Francisco this morning after an early flight. It’s been a beautiful day so I caught up with a buddy and we did a great walk around the city parks. This, the view from near the top of Buena Vista park:
I’m really excited to catch up with friends, meet awesome new folks and hear all about the Google product road maps this week!
Slicers 🚫 Not yet! They’re still in the works but I’m sure there’ll be an update this week!
Better Charts ✔️ We got some nice upgrades like editing individual data points.
Pivot Table Upgrades ✔️
Big Query Data Integration ✔️ Available to G Suite Business, Enterprise and Education users
There were a bunch of other upgrades and new features announced!
I’ll be sure to share the announcements from this year’s Google Sheets session here in this blog!
Friday, April 5 (T – 4 Days)
Google Next 19, the big annual conference from Google Cloud and G Suite, is just around the corner. It starts on Tuesday 9th April, although there are things happening on Sunday and Monday beforehand.
I have my ticket and I’m flying to San Francisco on Sunday. I’m really excited!
Last year was my first time at Next, and it was an eye-opening experience. With over 20,000 attendees and hundreds of talks, it was inspiring and overwhelming in equal measure. It was great to hear first-hand from the Google Sheets team on the roadmap, and I’m looking forward to new updates this year.
This year, with experience from last year fresh in my mind, I’ve scheduled meetings ahead of time, been a little less ambitious with my schedule and packed a portable battery charger!
My plan is to update this post daily with news and announcements from Next 19.
This is a great addition for those of us who build reports and dashboards. Slicers are like checkbox buttons we can add to pivot tables and charts to make them much more interactive from a user stand point.
You’ll be able to add a slicer for a given field so that a user can then filter to just see the data they want.
Pivot tables recently got a facelift, with a new, more user-friendly UX.
Even more useful though, pivot tables now have the option to group data (for example to group dates into months, or quarters etc.) and drill-down on data (so you can select an aggregated record and see all the data behind it with a single click).
These are really, really strong updates to Pivot Tables and dramatically increase the power of pivot tables.
There’s been a huge buzz around BigQuery this week, so it was only natural that they announced a native connector for Sheets and BigQuery. It’s in beta pre-release at the moment.
I’ve enjoyed learning more about BigQuery this week and I’m really excited to start using it to build data pipelines involving Sheets and/or Data Studio.
Partner Integrations (sneak peek) 🔥
The team announced several new data integrations during the session. They spent time discussing what they’re working on to bring data from web services into Sheets so you can analyze it.
Three new integrations were announced:
Salesforce and Sheets
You’ll soon be able to export Salesforce data into Sheets with a single click. Salesforce will also be rolling out a feature where you can work on your data in a Google Sheet that is embedded inside of Salesforce.
Sheets saved in Box
You’ll soon be able to work with Google Docs but save the files into your Box account, i.e. use Box instead of Drive as your cloud storage. This makes a lot of sense if you’re already setup on the Box platform.
The team did a live demo showing the collaborative features live from a Box hosted Google Slide deck. Super slick!
SAP to Sheets
You’ll soon be able to export directly from SAP to Sheets.
Other notable updates in the works 🔥
> Text to columns will soon support fixed width splits, which is a useful upgrade.
> Continuing improvement of the Explore feature, which lets users ask questions about their data and uses natural language machine learning to extract answers and suggest insights.
> Improved printing options to meet enterprise needs.
> Images in cells, which stay with that cell even when you move it or insert other rows or columns. Currently you can insert floating images or use the IMAGE function to insert into a cell. Neither is ideal however, so this is a nice touch.
The session recording
Check out the recording of the session from the Google Next 18 conference: