In Pursuit Of A Dream

As I’ve grown, my values have changed and evolved.

Things that mattered to me in my twenties and early thirties don’t matter so much now.

As each year passes, what matters to me becomes clearer. A simple life, with a focus around family, regular outdoor exercise, and a good work routine is what I’m looking for.

(Honestly, I think this guy had it figured out 😉 )

For the past few years, my wife and I have nurtured a shared dream of moving our family to a small mountain town.
Continue reading In Pursuit Of A Dream

Recap From Google Cloud Next ’19 Conference

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:

The full library of sessions from Google Next 19 can be found over on the Google Cloud Platform and the G Suite channels.

See you at Google Next 20 perhaps?

Google Next 19 Conference – Live Blog

Conference Recap

Check out the best Google Sheets and G Suite videos here: Google Sheets Sessions From Cloud Next ’19 Conference


Friday, April 12th (Post-conference)

The conference may be over but I have a little time left in San Francisco. Today I had the opportunity to visit the Googleplex in Mountain View and record a video with the Data Studio team 🙂

Google logo

In the studio with the Data Studio team
In the studio with the Data Studio team
Android Robot!
Android Robot!

Thursday, April 11th (Day 3)

Day 3 at Next ‘19 recap from Google: A look back at an amazing week

1.35 PM – Growing a spreadsheet into an application

Spreadsheet applications

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.

Spreadsheet applications
Use cases when spreadsheets make good applications…
Spreadsheet applications
…and times when they don’t make good applications!

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

Simplify Business with G Suite

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! 👉

Google Sheets BigQuery connector
Google Sheets BigQuery connector

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!

Google App Maker

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:


Wednesday, April 10th (Day 2)

Day 2 recap on the Google Cloud Blog

4.40 PM – Developer Keynote LIVE

Watch live here

3.30 PM – Data Studio

Serverless reporting with GCP and Data Studio
Serverless reporting with GCP and Data Studio

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.

Scheduled Data Studio report
Scheduled Data Studio report

It’s very clear that Google are investing heavily in this tool!

2.10 PM – BQML and Google Sheets

BigQuery ML 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.

BigQuery Connector into Google Sheets

Fascinating stuff!

12.30 PM – Google Sheets Session

Wow! So many big features in the pipeline:

Google Sheets announcements
Google Sheets announcements

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
  • Slicers
  • Reports!Easily create beautiful reports, including Themes feature
  • See and Edit history of a cell
  • Embedding Sheets into Docs/Slides
  • And more…!
Google Sheets Reports feature
Google Sheets Reports feature
Google Next Keynote Day 2
Analyzing millions of rows of BigQuery data directly in Google Sheets formula! 🤯

More to come…

9 AM – Product Keynote

Good to see G Suite get a lot of stage time!

Google Next Keynote Day 2

Google Next Keynote Day 2
BigQuery + Google Sheets! This is exciting!

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)

For a full run-down of all the new features and products coming to G Suite: check it out here on the G Suite blog

Watch it live here –> Next on Air


Tuesday, April 9th (Day 1)

Day 1 Recap

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.

Some links from day 1:

Google Cloud Next ‘19: Welcome to the future of digital transformation

Day 1 at Next ‘19: Hybrid cloud, full-stack serverless, open-source partnerships, and more (the official recap)

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

Google Next 19 Vendor hall

The scale of this conference is pretty overwhelming!

Google Next 19 Vendor hall

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

Google Next 19 BigQuery session

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!

Google BigQuery Potens
Example workflow built using Potens.io to review ad assets and run them through Cloud Vision API to flag inappropriate content, all atop BigQuery

I look forward to diving into BigQuery (someday soon!) and start creating content here.

Google Next 19 BigQuery session

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.

Google Next 19 Keynote
It’s a rock concert for geeks! 😎

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.

Google Next 19 Community Dinner

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).

1 PM

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.

Lunch in San Francisco

Here’s a quick example app built with Glide. It’s a list of all the developer products that Google have.

Glide app
Click to open the app

The data is all stored in a Google Sheet and is sourced from the Developer product list that Google publish online: https://developers.google.com/products/

It’s imported into Google Sheets using IMPORTHTML functions to ensure that it’s dynamic and is synced with Google’s published list.

=IMPORTHTML("https://developers.google.com/products/","list",14)

(The product list start from 14 onwards…)

The Next conference starts in earnest for me tomorrow (it’s the community summit today).

12.30 PM:

Some early G Suite stats being shared at the community events today (I’m not there, so reporting this from Twitter):

  • 1.5B+ App Users
  • 90M+ students with an Edu license
  • 5M+ paying G Suite Businesses (up 1M from last year)

If you’re unable to attend Next, the Keynote sessions are available to watch live online here: https://cloud.withgoogle.com/next/sf/

9 AM:

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!

Google Next 19 Badge

Google Next 19 Conference
Digging the conference graphics on the side of the Moscone Center

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:

Golden Gate Bridge from Buena Vista park
Golden Gate Bridge from 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!

This is what the Google Sheets team announced last year:

  • 5 million cells ✔️ We got that earlier this year!
  • 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

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.

I’ll also be posting lots of updates to Twitter, under the #GoogleNext19 hashtag.

Recap From Google Cloud Next ’18 Conference

26 July 2018: I’ve been at the Google Next cloud conference this week, in San Francisco. They announced a ton of exciting new features and products for both G Suite and the Google Cloud Platform.

Google Next conference

The Google Sheets product team announced a bunch of exciting new features coming soon to Google Sheets.

Here’s a brief recap:

5 million cells! (Sneak peek) 🔥

Nice! A big jump in the size of data we can work with in Sheets. This will open up Sheets for bigger data projects now.

Update December 2018: This feature has been released! Check the File sizes help page.

Slicers (sneak peek) 🔥

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.

It’ll be much more functional and elegant than the data validation drop-down method or checkbox methods you can use at the moment.

Google Sheets slicers

Charting upgrades (sneak peek) 🔥

It’s great to see charts getting some love! It’s one area where Google Sheet has fairly limited functionality, but we’ll soon have much more granular control over how our charts look.

For example, the updates will include the option to color datapoints individually (as shown in this image):

Google Sheets chart update

Update January 2019: This feature has been released! Check this article on how to add custom formatting to individual data point.

Pivot Table upgrades (recently launched) 🔥

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.

Google Sheets Pivot Tables

I’ll be working on updating the Data Cleaning and Pivot Table course later this summer to showcase the new UX and features.

BigQuery Data Integration (sneak peek) 🔥

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.

BigQuery to Google Sheets connector

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: