Small API To Full-On Business Solution In Less Than A Year
What started as a passion project is now becoming bigger than we’ve ever imagined. As commits are being added to the new version of Sheetsu, I think that you deserve a bit of backstory.
Where did we get the idea for Sheetsu? How did it evolve over time? Where did it all start?
It’s not a long story. It’s probably not as exciting as Hollywood’s new take on the story of Steve Jobs, or that new article about 8 habits that make successful people successful.
Nevertheless, me and my team are excited because what started out as a simple API is now becoming a full-on business solution.
And I’m damn proud. Here’s how we reached this moment.
Only wizards write code that accesses Google Sheets
Or so it seemed when we were starting out, so Sheetsu first came to life as a layer for the Google Sheets API.
We noticed that it was hard to write code that can access Spreadsheets. That was a problem.
Why shouldn’t you be able to easily use Spreadsheets as a database? Maybe Google did it on purpose, being the corporate overlord that they are. Maybe it was just a coincidence.
Nevertheless we wanted to solve that problem, and so the first incarnation of Sheetsu (the one we got our name from) was coded.
It was basically an additional layer for the Google Sheets API.
Thanks to the layer we’ve created, communication with Spreadsheets became much easier. No longer did you have to be a mastermind in order to use Spreadsheets as a database.
Plus we sprinkled a bit of goodness on top, in the form of a few features that made working with Spreadsheets easier for programmers.
But it’s not just programmers who want to use it
After that we noticed that users really liked using Sheetsu as a simple web-based database.
And it wasn’t just programmers who were noticing the value. It was also people who are code-savvy and understand the web, but aren’t fluent in any code or don’t code at all.
What a huge improvement it was! Now anyone could start using Sheetsu simply by adding a few lines to their site’s source code.
And they did — it was clear that more and more users liked it, and usage numbers grew.
Two steps forward, two steps back
Along the way we got a bit too carried away with our ambitions.
At one point we tried to add a new feature.
The purpose of the feature was to allow users to add and reposition readymade graphic elements on their websites.
Lo and behold, it turned out that users prefer to use web templates or design their own UI, so this feature got scratched pretty quickly.
After that we had another ‘great’ idea — let’s get into the hosting game!
I’m still not sure where we got enough bravado to push that idea through, but we did.
Long story short it was another missed shot because, as it turns out, hosting providers don’t play games.
Moreover, users don’t know much, nor do they care much about hosting these days, and they usually have a provider long before they find us.
In the case of small and medium projects the costs of hosting are so low that they don’t need to be cut. By trying to revolutionise hosting we were only shooting ourselves in the foot.
We were working on features that nobody needed. Luckily, we quickly got back on the right track.
It’s kind of IFTTT and Zapier, but not really
Our current plans are a bit more ambitious, and (hopefully) based on what users really need.
A lot of our time has been spent working with digital agencies, which keep on giving us the most valuable feedback.
It’s thanks to this feedback that we’ve realised people want to build their own UI, not use a website editor with readymade elements.
This is also how we realised that plugging sophisticated features into your website is a whole different game — one that most users cannot win without any support.
At this point we decided to become something between IFTTT (with smaller, but more focused possibilities) and Zapier (more flexible in web, maybe with a bit less prestige).
And so we’re working on the newest version of Sheetsu, a version that we really like, and we hope our users will too.
The new Sheetsu connects your website with all your favorite apps (or it will after we polish all the features).
It is supposed to be a simple tool that allows non-programming, but tech-savvy users to unleash the power of website automation.
Want to publish articles on your website the second you add them to your Google Drive? Receive a text message when someone clicks a button on your site? Add data from forms right into Google Sheets every time someone fills out those forms?
No problem! That’s what Sheetsu is here for.
Does this article even need a summary?
Well, that’s the short story of Sheetsu as of October, 2017.
I’m not sure how it’s going to progress, but we know what users want, we have a plan to give it to them, and we’re working day and night to do it as fast as possible.
If you have any idea that could help us, please don’t hesitate and shoot a good ol’ email my way → email@example.com.
And if you want to know more, ask in the ‘responses’ section below! (you’ll save us the trouble of coming up with new article topics every week :p).
Redacted by: Slavingway
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