In this blog post I’ll show you how to use a public Google Spreadsheet as data source in your Android application. 


Google allows you to treat any public spreadsheet as a table in a database by using the Google Query Language. This language provides an easy way of interrogating a data source and pulling back the results of the query as JSON response or an HTML table.

Normally, you'd access a Google Spreadsheet through a url similar to the one below: (English Premier League Final Table 1999)

If you want to get the same spreadsheet as a JSON response, you'll have to use its key to construct a URL as shown:

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

As you can see, it is not a ready-to-use JSON and a little bit of work is necessary to make it compatible with org.json.JSONObject. Nevertheless, once the unnecessary parts are trimmed, you’re left with a JSON object that contains all the rows and columns of the spreadsheet.

In addition, the Google Query Language offers server side filtering through SQL-like statements but that would be covered in another post.

Downloading a Google Spreadsheet

Network operations are unpredictable and can cause poor user experience. Therefore, it’s a good development practice to perform network operations on a separate thread from the UI. 

The AsyncTask class provides a way to do that by exposing two important methods:
  • doInBackground() does all the work around downloading a web page content as a string. When it’s done, it passes the result to onPostExecute.
  • onPostExecute() takes the returned string and displays it in the UI.
Following is the class I use to download the contents of a Google Spreadsheet.

Constructing a JSON object

Once the JSON string has been downloaded and is in compatible format, it can be used to create a JSONObject.

JSONObject jObject = new JSONObject(stringResponse);

The JSONObject then can be traversed in order to create the application's ViewModel. For this particular example, I have a class called Team with the following fields: 
  • position
  • name
  • wins
  • draws 
  • losses 
  • points
The final result can be seen below.

Grab the full source code from GitHub:

About the Author

Kiril Stanoev

Hi, I'm Kiril and I'm the Product Manager of Telerik UI for Android, Windows Universal and Windows Phone. Feel free to ping me on +KirilStanoev or @KirilStanoev

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