Google Docs

Collaborative Spreadsheet Art

Behind the Scenes

Not too long ago, we were brainstorming fun ways to show users how to use Google Docs for the holiday season.

Initial experiment with Christmas trees

Creating the "canvas"

Fiddling with column and row sizing in a spreadsheet, we realized that you could create square-shaped "pixels", and fill them with colors to form images. Our initial experiments were a bit simplistic, but we knew the opportunity was there to create something bigger and more complex!

Searching for snowflakes

Searching for inspiration

We pored over hundreds of images and graphics: should we have trees or a snowscape? Or a snowman with his snowdog?

In the end, we decided on a snowflake theme which emphasized how much could be done with just a fraction of 49 colors available in the spreadsheet color palette.

Rasterizing the snowflake

186 columns, 100 rows

Once the image was finalized, it was rasterized into the 18 shades of white, gray, blue, pink and green used to create the shading and tones for the snowflakes. We created a canvas with 186 columns and 100 rows, with total of 18,600 cells to be colored to create the final spreadsheet art.

Creating the snowflake in a Google Docs spreadsheet

Four people, one spreadsheet

Four collaborators then divided up the task of creating the snowflakes, and we filmed the entire process in time-lapsed fashion. All the work was done by real people working on the same spreadsheet simultaneously in Google Docs.

Putting it all together

We set the video to music composed by our very own Richard Mapes, a software engineer from the Google London office.

We hope you enjoyed our video. Happy Holidays from the Google Docs team!

Ready to try it yourself? Get your own spreadsheet "canvas" here.

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