November 2020 Newsletter#

Open Source Announcement#

We are happy to announce the beta release of the open source version of Grist! As a modern, powerful spreadsheet, Grist fits well into the open-source ecosystem, and is as friendly to hacker-developers as to hacker-users.

Join the discussion at HackerNews.

Read the announcement.

This will interest technically-minded users who’d like to extend Grist, or those with unusual requirements. Meanwhile, the service you know and love remains the best supported and cost-efficient option, and will benefit from the increased confidence in Grist source code.

Quick Tips#

  • Add a Record. Some of the simplest shortcuts are the most useful. To add a record, press Ctrl + = (Windows) or = (Mac). Press Shift at the same time to insert the record above the cursor rather than below.

  • Cook up a Unique Identifier. Let’s say you’d like to refer to records in a table, but don’t have a column that identifies each record uniquely. Perhaps you have people with First_Name and Last_Name, or sessions with Program_Name and Date. To use such tables as a destination of a Reference column, you’ll need a unique identifier.

    You can create one using a formula that stitches together the fields that identify a record uniquely. For example, create a column Full_Name with the formula

    $Last_Name + ", " + $First_Name

    or a column Session_Name with the formula

    "[%s] %s" % ($Date, $Program_Name)

    The latter is Python syntax for formatting strings: each occurrence of %s in the quoted string is replaced by a value from the list in parentheses.

What’s New#

Improved Attachments. The preview of attachments has been vastly improved, and supports showing PDF, video, and audio files. Simply double-click a cell with attachments to preview its content:

PDF Preview

View Differences. You can now view differences between a copy of a document you make using “Work on a Copy” and the original, as well as what changed since a backup snapshot in the document’s history. Find the “Compare” menu item in the Share menu:

Compare Menu

This feature is experimental for now, but is already quite useful:

Show Differences

This supports the workflow of trying out changes, which should be familiar to users of version control systems such as Git. One of its benefits is allowing view-only users to propose changes, even though they cannot edit the document directly.

New Examples#

Treasure Hunt: Even better than using Grist for work is using Grist for fun! Check out this template that helps you plan a treasure hunt without losing track. Conspire with relatives or friends online to create a trail of clues, then watch and laugh as the rest of your household flails their way through it.

Treasure Hunt document

Learning Grist#

  • Get started quickly with basic Grist concepts by watching this playlist of a few very short introductory videos: Grist Video Series.

  • Each of our featured Examples & Templates has a related tutorial that shows step-by-step how to build it from scratch. Read through one to gain a deeper understanding of how various features play together.

  • Visit our Help Center to find all of the above, along with the full product documentation.

  • Questions or suggestions? Click the Give Feedback link near the bottom left in the Grist application, or simply email