Start at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets and sign in…or, if you don’t already have a Google account, there’s an option to create one.

Create a new blank sheet. Just the basic plain one.

Be a dearie and double-click “Untitled spreadsheet,” give it a descriptive name.

Two things to keep in mind:

  1. Keep the spreadsheet design small and simple. A few dozen cells, tops. Text, numbers and dates are fine. No graphics or colors or merged cells. We’re just using this spreadsheet to hold some short notes, not doing serious data analysis or structuring. Formulas and functions can be used, as long as the output is text, numbers or dates.
  2. Later, on MagTag, there will be some accompanying CircuitPython code that you will write, and it needs to know how the table is formatted…the whole spreadsheet doesn’t simply appear there. We’ll walk through some examples on pages that follow. Each one’s a little different.

If you’ll be collaborating with others, click the Share button at top-right. You can then add people by email address (they’ll also need Google accounts). Everyone can then add to or edit the spreadsheet, even at the same time.

If it’s just you editing the data, you can skip this step.

Publish to Web

From Google Sheets’ File menu (not the browser’s File menu), select “Share,” which rolls over to include “Publish to web.”

A dialog box pops up with various settings and menus. Most can be left at their defaults, but the second menu selects the published format: change this from the default “Web page” to Tab-separated values (.tsv)” then click the “Publish” button. Confirm “OK” when asked.

The dialog box expands a bit now, and includes a long URL for others to access the spreadsheet. Copy that URL string to the clipboard, we’ll paste it into some CircuitPython code later. Double check that this ends with “output=tsv”. If not, change the format in the menu above this field.

Never publish sheets containing sensitive information. Anyone with the link is able to read (but not modify) what’s there.

You only need to set this up once. Any changes to the original spreadsheet are automatically re-published using the same link you just put together.

Next Steps

Now we’ll look at what that the .tsv format is and write some CircuitPython code to convert it into something readable on the MagTag’s display…

This guide was first published on Dec 14, 2020. It was last updated on Dec 14, 2020.

This page (Spreadsheet Setup) was last updated on Jul 06, 2022.

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