How to Include Spreadsheets in a WordPress Blog

16 August 2013

San Antonio: Never mind what prominent social networks and other cloud-based services would like you to consider. Running an autonomous blog, be it for fun or as part of your business, still makes a lot of logic in many circumstances, and remains a much more flexible means to keep an online presence. To show this, we will describe how to embed simple but real spreadsheets with formulae in your blog posts.

Yes, I do know that lots of people solve this problem with spreadsheets created and hosted in some Google Docs/Google Drive account. Certainly, this is very helpful, if not the only possible solution, in numerous scenarios. There are various tutorials that clarify how to do it with WordPress and other content management systems (CMS).

That approach, however, is not what we are considering. There are a couple of ways to embed simple spreadsheets in your WordPress blogs. While not complete (particularly for the first one) as Google spreadsheets, these techniques are both based on free/open source software, don’t compel you to have a Google account, and keep the spreadsheets on your server.

Let's begin with the less-featured but simplest solution: Gelsheet. The Gelsheet home page presents it both as an add-on to older versions of the FengOffice online suite and as a WordPress plugin, which is what interests us. The major trouble is that there isn't any documentation on how to do set up and employ that plugin, but you will be able to solve that with this post.

The process is much easier than you may think. First of all, download the actual code of the plugin and unpack it in the wp-content/plugins subfolder of your WordPress installation. After that, trigger it in the plugin panel of your WordPress dashboard. That's it, as far as the installation is concerned.

Similarly usage is also simple. While you're editing a post (do this in HTML, not visual mode), place the cursor where the spreadsheet must appear and click on the almost unseen Add Spreadsheet icon.

Click on the Add Spreadsheet icon.

This action releases the pop-up Gelsheet interface that looks and behaves just like an ordinary spreadsheet.

Once you're done with formulae and numbers, save the "book" you just created and close the pop-up window. (Gelsheet calls its spreadsheets "books")

The content of your spreadsheet will be saved, like the remaining post, in the MySQL database, while a placeholder in the text of the post will tell WordPress where to display it:

Let's insert a spreadsheet now [gs_book id="1"]

The result is something that merges perfectly with the rest of your blog.

Other things you should know about Gelsheet

You can format the spreadsheet cells in a number of ways, as well as use formulas. From this point of view, the option presently available in Gelsheet is much less than what you would have in any desktop spreadsheet or in Google Docs, but it may be sufficient for many users.

You can use formulas in Gelsheet spreadsheets.

Gelsheet books are not editable by visitors of your blog, and they're not interactive in any way. This will be a non-issue for many bloggers and a show-stopper for others. Anyway, be set for a bit of disappointment with the Export function, which lists PDF, ODS, XSL and XSLX as possible output formats, but none of them seems to work at present. All you get is yet another version of your book, somewhere inside the MySQL database.

This, as far as I'm concerned, is the most annoyance quirk of Gelsheet. Irrespective of the format, exporting or saving the book you are working on always produces a new one with a progressive ID number. So, if you altered some figures or formulas in the existing book and saved it, in order to display that new version in your post, you have to manually correct the ID number in the post source. On a positive side, Gelsheets books are not bound to the post in which you first embed them. Therefore, adding this string:

[gs_book id="1"]

to any of your blog posts will always take in that version of your spreadsheet.

Even with these restrictions, which are not unrelated by any means, Gelsheet may be useful to many bloggers -- if nothing else, because it's so simple to set up and use. Besides, with free/open source software, improvements are always feasible, aren't they? In fact, one of the reasons to write this post is to raise more interest in this nice little package, in the hope that it will rouse further development work.

Read more: WordPress Web Development

Why Fortune Innovations?

  • Cost effective, save up to 40%
  • San Antonio based account management
  • Expert team of programmers with Web 2.0 expertise
  • More than 50 members offshore development team based in Bangalore, India
  • We uphold detailed time sheets and daily reports
  • Virtual web developers and web designers working remotely
  • Quality driven delivery model
  • WordPress Development in San Antonio
  • Drupal Development in San Antonio
  • Joomla Development in San Antonio
  • eCommerce Magento San Antonio
  • Web Development San Antonio
  • Web Design San Antonio
  • jQuery development San Antonio
  • Zend framework development San Antonio
  • Airline IBE GDS Integration Navitaire San Antonio
  • Airline IBE GDS Integration Aamadeus San Antonio