Custom Functions

In formulas, you can create your own custom JavaScript functions (primitives) by calling defineFunction(name, func). The first argument (string) is the name for your function in formulas (case-insensitive), and the second one is a JavaScript function (the implementation).


Synchronous Primitives

The following example demonstrates how to define a function that calculates the distance between two points.

defineFunction('distance', function(x1: number, y1: number, x2: number, y2: number) {
    const dx = Math.abs(x1 - x2);
    const dy = Math.abs(y1 - y2);
    const distance = Math.sqrt((dx * dx) + (dy * dy));
    return distance;
    ['x1', 'number'],
    ['y1', 'number'],
    ['x2', 'number'],
    ['y2', 'number']

If you include the above JavaScript code, you can then use DISTANCE in formulas. For example, to find the distance between coordinate points (2,2) and (5,6), type in a cell =DISTANCE(2, 2, 5, 6). Optionally, you can use the function in combined expressions such as =DISTANCE(0, 0, 1, 1) + DISTANCE(2, 2, 5, 6). Below you will find a runnable example:

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In the above example, defineFunction returns an object that has an args method. You can use it to specify the expected types of arguments. If the function is called with mismatching argument types, the runtime of the Spreadsheet automatically returns an error and your implementation is not called. This spares the time for manually writing code that does argument type checking and provides a nice declarative syntax instead.

Asynchronous Primitives

To retrieve currency information from a remote server, define a primitive to make this information available in formulas. To define an asynchronous function, call argsAsync instead of args.

defineFunction("currency", function(callback, base, curr){
    // let's say we have this fetchCurrency function;
    // how it's implemented is not relevant for the goal of this document
    fetchCurrency(base, curr, function(value){
    [ "base", "string" ],
    [ "curr", "string" ]


The argsAsync passes a callback as the first argument to your implementation function, which you need to call with the return value.

It is possible to use new approaches in formulas such as =CURRENCY("EUR", "USD") and =A1 * CURRENCY("EUR", "USD"). Note that the callback is invisible in formulas. The second formula shows that even though the implementation itself is asynchronous, it can be used in formulas in a synchronous way—that is, the result yielded by CURRENCY is multiplied by the value in A1.