: New: fantabular.py converts puzzlehunty Quip docs to spreadsheets

fantabular.py is a little computer program to look at your Quip documents, find those with "Tabular" in the name, and convert their tables to spreadsheets.

If you're part of a puzzlehunt team, you occasionally want to collaborate on making a spreadsheet of data. You arrive at a playground|lawn|garden. Scattered about the place lurk placards|posters|dioramas. The team splits up into two or three groups to cover ground faster. For each thingy, you jot down some notes. Then you regroup and try to make sense of your collective notes. Probably the result is hard to follow: different people took notes in different ways. When you noted down the poster color, you set up a "color" column and jotted down "red" or "black". Your teammate set up a "red?" column and jotted down "yes" or "no". Either system makes sense, but when you try to look over all of your data, it's a muddle. Maybe it gets confusing enough such that you decide to transcribe everything to one table (carefully!). And then one of your teammates channels Dan Egnor and say "We should really put this in a spreadsheet".

In this age of smartphones and documents "in the cloud", it seems like we should just be able to use our phones to work together in the same spreadsheet from the get go. I haven't found a great way to do that. Quip has a pretty sweet mobile-collaboritive editing experience…for word-y documents, not spreadsheets; but those documents can contain tables. So I wrote fantabular.py, a little python script to fun on my laptop to peek at my Quip documents, find those with "Tabular" in the title, download them, grab the tables from them, and convert those tables to spreadsheets.

So we can share a document named "Tabular Shinteki Legion" or whatever, put together a big table of data that we're all looking at (and can all see that we should say "yes"/"no" instead of "red"/"black"), and when we regroup, haul out the laptop to convert to a spreadsheet.

On the one hand: yay, better living through software. Yay me for writing this code. Yay. On the other hand: wow, it feels convoluted to tell your teammates: hey let's all use this word-y document editing app so we can later turn it into a spreadsheet. I'm posting this halfway hoping that someone will tell me "Larry, you goofball, what a waste of your time. Didn't you know that ______ is a great way for smartphone-ish folks to collaborate on a spreadsheet?" Because I have to think that would be less roundabout than what I've got going on here.

Tags: puzzlehunts programming

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