Chapter 6. Automate Your Forms and Templates: A Web App for Drive

If your business is like most, it has forms lying around everywhere to get this process or that request done. Most of the time these forms are the same thing over and over, with a few things changed. Letters to say thank you for a purchase, patient intake, and filing with the court are all situations where we might encounter a form. Now I certainly would like to see everything in tidy data structures, but in reality we need forms to ground us in that paper, human-readable format—that is not going anywhere soon.

Google Apps gives us a great platform for collaboration, storage, and creation of documentation. However, there really is not a way to create forms that generates a nice, print-style page layout that is easy to distribute.

The Forms feature in Google Sheets is a great way to collect information; it uses a web page–style form that anyone who has ever used a computer can understand. This feature fills in a spreadsheet, making it a good tool for collection and analysis, but not for the output of a document, like your taxes. Another option is to build a template in Google Docs, leaving blank lines for where you would like certain things filled in. But what about extra instructions and the worry of a certain field getting missed? You could fire up Microsoft Word and spend the next week trying to get the form field insert function to work, and the next year explaining to users how to use it, but you know they will ...

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