14 December 2011 - by Ian Weatherhogg, Chief Technical Officer

Google Apps - Shared Contacts - spreadsheet sync

Google Apps gives you your own set of contacts, plus “Shared Contacts” (think global address book). If you have an existing CRM or other large database of contacts, Shared Contacts gives a great way of distributing that data to your colleagues, without flooding their personal contacts with names and addresses they need less often.

When you’re new to Google Apps you naturally assume you’re going to be able to add/edit/import Shared Contacts, but so far Google haven’t provided a way. Lots of enterprising developers have created marketplace apps to help out but as Jesse said here we don’t think you want to pay a monthly fee when it’s such a simple and obvious requirement.

This article describes how we used a Google Spreadsheet and Google Apps Script to synchronise multiple spreadsheets of contacts into Shared Contacts to create a global address book.

First off we should explain the differences between My Contacts and Shared Contacts:

My Contacts

Shared Contacts

Editability

You can create/edit your own contacts, but you can’t share them.

Only editable via script/API, and 3rd party marketplace apps

Browse

Yes

You can only search, which makes sense if you have 00’s or 000’s of them

Autocomplete from Gmail

Yes

Yes

Outlook integration

Yes

Via Address Book

Mobile integration

Yes

No

Limitations

25,000

50,000

Script and API Access

Both

Just API access - it’s more complex from Apps Script than accessing My Contacts, which is why we wrote this article.

Step 1 - Create a contacts spreadsheet

Step 2 - Insert script that parses and pushes each row to Shared Contacts

Step 3 - wait about 10 hours for the contacts to appear in Gmail, Google Contacts, Outlook etc

Your Next Steps:

  1. Request to view this spreadsheet
  2. Make a copy of your own
  3. Extend the spreadsheet to pull contacts from an “upstream” source such as a database or website
  4. Refractiv are developers and Google Apps integrators, so if you’re not comfortable in code, we’d love to create a solution for you.

Further reading:

The official differences between My Contacts and Shared Contacts:

http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?answer=1628008

Alex Vagin’s spreadsheet+script that syncs “personal” contacts:

http://alex.cloudware.it/2011/06/google-apps-scripts-shared-contact.html 

Google’s own example:

http://googleappsdeveloper.blogspot.com/2011/03/contact-sharing-using-google-apps.html

Tags: Google Apps