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|Subject: Playing Around with ImportXML in Google Spreadsheets Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:51 am|| |
Put me in front of a Mac and it’s almost as if I never learned to use a computer. Put me in front of Google Spreadsheets and all of the time I’ve spent working with Excel feels a little like time wasted, and not in a good way. I’m just not very used to a spreadsheet that isn’t Excel.
Unafraid of a challenge, I recently decided to give Google’s (exceptional) importXML, importFEED and importHTML functions a try – the ability to fetch information from the web to retrieve the data you need. Mostly to make an interesting blog post, but partly out of envy that Excel doesn’t have this function.
It’s frustrating trying to get XML data into Microsoft Excel – unless you’ve got the time and patience to build some basic Macros or VBscript for your requirements. With Google Docs, it’s really easy.
A few resources
If you want to use Google Docs to extract data from the web, it would be a good idea for you to learn a little xPath. “XPath is used to navigate through elements and attributes in an XML document”, or, in simple terms, you can use xPath to fetch little bits of data contained in structured elements like ,
or links or pretty much anything, really.
Also, there are a few people who have been doing this a while, and probably have sample spreadsheets that blow some of the examples below away – but you have to start somewhere, right? If you’re already an importXML / Google Docs Ninja, maybe go and find something else to do instead of reading this post.
If you’re interested, I made a Google Docs Spreadsheet with all of the examples below: