February 01, 2020

Using Google Docs to Produce Markdown

Introduction

I recently sat next to a Google employee on a flight from SFO to Austin, TX.

He works on reporting tools that lean heavily on the Google Apps Script suite of tools.

Google Apps Script now supports virtually all Google Drive doc types (Docs, Sheets, etc.) as well as other Google product offerings (Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Maps, etc.).

The tool has come a long way since it was first announced in 2009, over 10 years ago.

Content Authoring

At Netflix, Google Docs is popular for authoring memos.

Memos are collaboratively-authored documents which specify product initiatives and collect team feedback via Google Docs’ commenting features.

Using the tool at work has reminded me of all the positives of the real-time collaborative use-case:

  • Commenting
  • Task assignment
  • Tracking changes
  • Shallow learning curve

These positive features led me to seek out ways to incorporate Google Docs into my publishing process for this blog.

Thankfully, there are pre-existing tools that use Google Apps Script to convert a Google Doc into Markdown text which can be easily incorporated into my Jekyll-generated website:

I discovered these tools from links via this thorough how-to on outsourcing your content production via interviews.

Here is a short (14-second) illustration of how the 1st tool works. After clicking those 2 buttons, I copy-paste the outputted markdown text to a new post in my Jekyll repository.

Smooth and easy, baby! 👏😎

Conclusion

I look forward to using Google Docs in my editing process going forward; both for my personal blog and for the Accidental Engineer (also a Jekyll-generated website).

I’m going to make time to re-evaluate Google Apps Script for a number of use cases going forward.

Additional Resources