Connect to JSON Services in Google Apps Script

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JSON ODBC Driver

The JSON ODBC Driver is a powerful tool that allows you to connect with live JSON web services, directly from any applications that support ODBC connectivity.

Access JSON services like you would any standard database - read, write, and update etc. through a standard ODBC Driver interface.



Use the ODBC Driver for JSON and the SQL Gateway to access JSON services from Google Apps Script.

Google Apps Script gives you the ability to create custom functionality within your Google documents, including Google Sheets, Google Docs, and more. With the CData SQL Gateway, you can create a MySQL interface for any ODBC driver, including the 200+ drivers by CData for sources like JSON. The MySQL protocol is natively supported through the JDBC service in Google Apps Script, so by utilizing the SQL Gateway, you gain access to live JSON services within your Google documents.

This article discusses connecting to the ODBC Driver for JSON from Google Apps Script, walking through the process of configuring the SQL Gateway and providing sample scripting for processing JSON services in a Google Spreadsheet.

Our script only reads data from a specified table, but you can easily extend the script to incorporate update functionality.

Real-Time Connectivity Through SQL Gateway

With SQL Gateway, your local ODBC data sources can look and behave like a standard MySQL database. Simply create a new MySQL remoting service in the SQL Gateway for the ODBC Driver for JSON and ensure that the SQL Gateway is installed on a web-facing machine (or can connect to a hosted SSH server).

Connect to JSON Services

If you have not already done so, provide values for the required connection properties in the data source name (DSN). You can use the built-in Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to configure the DSN. This is also the last step of the driver installation. See the "Getting Started" chapter in the help documentation for a guide to using the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure a DSN.

See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation to authenticate to your data source: The data provider models JSON APIs as bidirectional database tables and JSON files as read-only views (local files, files stored on popular cloud services, and FTP servers). The major authentication schemes are supported, including HTTP Basic, Digest, NTLM, OAuth, and FTP. See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation for authentication guides.

After setting the URI and providing any authentication values, set DataModel to more closely match the data representation to the structure of your data.

The DataModel property is the controlling property over how your data is represented into tables and toggles the following basic configurations.

  • Document (default): Model a top-level, document view of your JSON data. The data provider returns nested elements as aggregates of data.
  • FlattenedDocuments: Implicitly join nested documents and their parents into a single table.
  • Relational: Return individual, related tables from hierarchical data. The tables contain a primary key and a foreign key that links to the parent document.

See the Modeling JSON Data chapter for more information on configuring the relational representation. You will also find the sample data used in the following examples. The data includes entries for people, the cars they own, and various maintenance services performed on those cars.

Create a MySQL Remoting Service for JSON Services

See the SQL Gateway Overview to set up connectivity to JSON services as a virtual MySQL database. You will configure a MySQL remoting service that listens for MySQL requests from clients. The service can be configured in the SQL Gateway UI.

Connecting to JSON Services with Apps Script

At this point, you should have configured the SQL Gateway for JSON services. All that is left now is to use Google Apps Script to access the MySQL remoting service and work with your JSON services in Google Sheets.

In this section, you will create a script (with a menu option to call the script) to populate a spreadsheet with JSON services. We have created a sample script and explained the different parts. You can view the raw script at the end of the article.

1. Create an Empty Script

To create a script for your Google Sheet, click Tools Script editor from the Google Sheets menu:

2. Declare Class Variables

Create a handful of class variables to be available for any functions created in the script.

//replace the variables in this block with real values as needed
var address = 'my.server.address:port';
var user = 'SQL_GATEWAY_USER';
var userPwd = 'SQL_GATEWAY_PASSWORD';
var db = 'CData JSON Sys';

var dbUrl = 'jdbc:mysql://' + address + '/' + db;

3. Add a Menu Option

This function adds a menu option to your Google Sheet, allowing you to use the UI to call your function.

function onOpen() {
  var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
  var menuItems = [
    {name: 'Write data to a sheet', functionName: 'connectToJSONData'}
  ];
  spreadsheet.addMenu('JSON Services', menuItems);
} 

4. Write a Helper Function

This function is used to find the first empty row in a spreadsheet.

/*
 * Finds the first empty row in a spreadsheet by scanning an array of columns
 * @return The row number of the first empty row.
 */
function getFirstEmptyRowByColumnArray(spreadSheet, column) {
  var column = spreadSheet.getRange(column + ":" + column);
  var values = column.getValues(); // get all data in one call
  var ct = 0;
  while ( values[ct] && values[ct][0] != "" ) {
    ct++;
  }
  return (ct+1);
}

5. Write a Function to Write JSON Services to a Spreadsheet

The function below writes the JSON services, using the Google Apps Script JDBC functionality to connect to the MySQL remoting service, SELECT data, and populate a spreadsheet. When the script is run, two input boxes will appear:

The first one asking the user to input the name of a sheet to hold the data (if the spreadsheet does not exist, the function creates it)

and the second one asking the user to input the name of a JSON table to read. If an invalid table is chosen, an error message appears and the function is exited.

It is worth noting that, while the function is designed to be used as a menu option, it could be extended for use as a formula in a spreadsheet.

/*
 * Reads data from a specified JSON 'table' and writes it to the specified sheet.
 *    (If the specified sheet does not exist, it is created.)
 */
function connectToJSONData() {
  var thisWorkbook = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();

  //select a sheet and create it if it does not exist
  var selectedSheet = Browser.inputBox('Which sheet would you like the data to post to?',Browser.Buttons.OK_CANCEL);
  if (selectedSheet == 'cancel')
    return;

  if (thisWorkbook.getSheetByName(selectedSheet) == null)
    thisWorkbook.insertSheet(selectedSheet);
  var resultSheet = thisWorkbook.getSheetByName(selectedSheet);
  var rowNum = 2;

  //select a JSON 'table'
  var table = Browser.inputBox('Which table would you like to pull data from?',Browser.Buttons.OK_CANCEL);
  if (table == 'cancel')
    return;

  var conn = Jdbc.getConnection(dbUrl, user, userPwd);

  //confirm that var table is a valid table/view
  var dbMetaData = conn.getMetaData();
  var tableSet = dbMetaData.getTables(null, null, table, null);
  var validTable = false;
  while (tableSet.next()) {
    var tempTable = tableSet.getString(3);
    if (table.toUpperCase() == tempTable.toUpperCase()){
      table = tempTable;
      validTable = true;
      break;
    }
  } 
  tableSet.close();
  if (!validTable) {
    Browser.msgBox("Invalid table name: " + table, Browser.Buttons.OK);
    return;
  }

  var stmt = conn.createStatement();

  var results = stmt.executeQuery('SELECT * FROM ' + table);
  var rsmd = results.getMetaData();
  var numCols = rsmd.getColumnCount();

  //if the sheet is empty, populate the first row with the headers
  var firstEmptyRow = getFirstEmptyRowByColumnArray(resultSheet, "A");
  if (firstEmptyRow == 1) {
    //collect column names
    var headers = new Array(new Array(numCols));
    for (var col = 0; col < numCols; col++){
      headers[0][col] = rsmd.getColumnName(col+1);
    }
    resultSheet.getRange(1, 1, headers.length, headers[0].length).setValues(headers);
  } else {
    rowNum = firstEmptyRow;
  }

  //write rows of JSON services to the sheet
  var values = new Array(new Array(numCols));
  while (results.next()) {
    for (var col = 0; col < numCols; col++) {
      values[0][col] = results.getString(col + 1);
    }
    resultSheet.getRange(rowNum, 1, 1, numCols).setValues(values);
    rowNum++;
  }

  results.close();
  stmt.close();
}
  

When the function is completed, you have a spreadsheet populated with your JSON services and you can now leverage all of the calculating, graphing, and charting functionality of Google Sheets anywhere you have access to the Internet.


Complete Google Apps Script

//replace the variables in this block with real values as needed
var address = 'my.server.address:port';
var user = 'SQL_GATEWAY_USER';
var userPwd = 'SQL_GATEWAY_PASSWORD';
var db = 'CData JSON Sys';

var dbUrl = 'jdbc:mysql://' + address + '/' + db;

function onOpen() {
  var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
  var menuItems = [
    {name: 'Write table data to a sheet', functionName: 'connectToJSONData'}
  ];
  spreadsheet.addMenu('JSON Services', menuItems);
}

/*
 * Finds the first empty row in a spreadsheet by scanning an array of columns
 * @return The row number of the first empty row.
 */
function getFirstEmptyRowByColumnArray(spreadSheet, column) {
  var column = spreadSheet.getRange(column + ":" + column);
  var values = column.getValues(); // get all data in one call
  var ct = 0;
  while ( values[ct] && values[ct][0] != "" ) {
    ct++;
  }
  return (ct+1);
}

/*
 * Reads data from a specified 'table' and writes it to the specified sheet.
 *    (If the specified sheet does not exist, it is created.)
 */
function connectToJSONData() {
  var thisWorkbook = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();

  //select a sheet and create it if it does not exist
  var selectedSheet = Browser.inputBox('Which sheet would you like the data to post to?',Browser.Buttons.OK_CANCEL);
  if (selectedSheet == 'cancel')
    return;

  if (thisWorkbook.getSheetByName(selectedSheet) == null)
    thisWorkbook.insertSheet(selectedSheet);
  var resultSheet = thisWorkbook.getSheetByName(selectedSheet);
  var rowNum = 2;

  //select a JSON 'table'
  var table = Browser.inputBox('Which table would you like to pull data from?',Browser.Buttons.OK_CANCEL);
  if (table == 'cancel')
    return;

  var conn = Jdbc.getConnection(dbUrl, user, userPwd);

  //confirm that var table is a valid table/view
  var dbMetaData = conn.getMetaData();
  var tableSet = dbMetaData.getTables(null, null, table, null);
  var validTable = false;
  while (tableSet.next()) {
    var tempTable = tableSet.getString(3);
    if (table.toUpperCase() == tempTable.toUpperCase()){
      table = tempTable;
      validTable = true;
      break;
    }
  } 
  tableSet.close();
  if (!validTable) {
    Browser.msgBox("Invalid table name: " + table, Browser.Buttons.OK);
    return;
  }

  var stmt = conn.createStatement();

  var results = stmt.executeQuery('SELECT * FROM ' + table);
  var rsmd = results.getMetaData();
  var numCols = rsmd.getColumnCount();

  //if the sheet is empty, populate the first row with the headers
  var firstEmptyRow = getFirstEmptyRowByColumnArray(resultSheet, "A");
  if (firstEmptyRow == 1) {
    //collect column names
    var headers = new Array(new Array(numCols));
    for (var col = 0; col < numCols; col++){
      headers[0][col] = rsmd.getColumnName(col+1);
    }
    resultSheet.getRange(1, 1, headers.length, headers[0].length).setValues(headers);
  } else {
    rowNum = firstEmptyRow;
  }

  //write rows of JSON services to the sheet
  var values = new Array(new Array(numCols));
  while (results.next()) {
    for (var col = 0; col < numCols; col++) {
      values[0][col] = results.getString(col + 1);
    }
    resultSheet.getRange(rowNum, 1, 1, numCols).setValues(values);
    rowNum++;
  }

  results.close();
  stmt.close();
}