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Published at Fri Feb 08 2019 in
Rows HQ

The 5 Superpowers of Spreadsheet Cells


Online data, APIs, automation & more! Build your next tool!

Spreadsheets offer functions like SUMIF() and IF() to help us create custom tools. These standard functions have served us well for these last 30 years, and it’s likely that they will continue to do so for the next 30—and beyond.

But standard feels old. Spreadsheet Cells are in need of a serious upgrade.

dashdash cells support 5 function types

We extended the notation and simplicity of spreadsheet functions to offer powers that match the needs of a creator in 2019. We grouped the different superpowers of cell functions into ⑤ categories:

  1. Standard functions

  2. Integrations (Data & APIs)

  3. Automation

  4. Moving Data

  5. The 5th Element

1. Standard functions

dashdash supports the major functions you will find in any spreadsheet. Same syntax, same notation, same result. You’ll feel at home with these:

  • SUM()COUNT()

  • IF(),SUMIFS()

  • AND(),OR(),LEFT(),RIGHT(),CONCATENATE(), et al.

These functions perform mathematical calculations; evaluate conditions and logic; they also convert and transform text, numbers and dates. They are a big part of the reason why spreadsheets are successful.

2. Integrations — Data & APIs

Since day 1, our goal was to build functions that can talk to the web. We want functions to connect to data & APIs while being as simple to use as SUM().

So we built functions for services. Input a couple of parameters, and voilà:

  • GET_COMPANY_FULLCONTACT(domain) Find company data, like the number of employees and an office address!

  • STOCK_ALPHAVANTAGE(symbol) Get the latest value of any asset you are tracking!

  • MESSAGE_CHANNEL_SLACK(channel, message) Message your team members in a Slack channel.

  • SEND_EMAIL(from, to, subject, ...) by dashdash Send an email to a list of recipients. Alternatively, use your SendGrid account to send personalized emails!

  • SEND_SMS_TWILIO(from, to, message) Send SMS messages with Twilio.

  • PLACE_SEARCH_GOOGLE(query) Find addresses of places with Google Places.


One simple function grabs company data with FullContact (left). Another sends messages to your Slack channels (right).

3. Automation

Once you get data, you will want to update it periodically. With dashdash, you can make your tool refresh automatically, instead of manually. We built REFRESH() (and REPEAT()) for that:

  • REFRESH(range, [optional params]) Refreshes a range of cells every interval minutes (by default, 60). Use it to grab fresh data from your integrations and APIs.

  • REPEAT(expression, interval) Refreshes a formula expression every interval minutes.


    Refreshing the stock price of Apple every 60 minutes.

4. Moving Data

Anyone who works with spreadsheets spends some time moving data between tables. We created a bunch of functions that doing this automatically.

  • INSERT(source, data, target) Insert data from a source to a target table. Good to create logs.

  • UPDATE(source, keys, data, target) Update data from a source to a target table, matching keys. Useful to keep tables sync’ed.

  • FILL(range, rows) Copies cells in a range down by a number of rows.


INSERT() a row into a table (left). UPDATE() a row in another table (right). Note: these functions match columns automatically.

5. The 5th element

There’s one last skill we are teaching our cells: to make them behave like interface elements. Coming soon.


The fifth element: get ready for functions that shape cells in slick ways!

Do It Yourself.

We shouldn’t depend on IT departments for every bit of innovation. (They‘re already fully booked for the next couple of years, anyway).

Build anything with these 5 groups of functions. No scripts, no coding.