Google Apps Script Triggers: A Beginner’s Overview and Alternative Solutions

How-To , IT Use Cases , zenphi Use Cases

Google Apps Script is a powerful scripting platform that allows users to extend the functionality of various Google Workspace applications, such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Forms and more. One of the key features of Apps Script is its ability to automate tasks and workflows using triggers. Triggers are event-driven actions that execute specific functions within your scripts. In this article, we will provide an overview of Google Apps Script triggers, including their various types and how to use them effectively. Also, we’ll cover the scenarios where opting for no-code solutions may be more advantageous.

Understanding Google Apps Script Triggers

Triggers in Google Apps Script are mechanisms that initiate the execution of a specific function based on certain events. These events can be time-based, such as a specific date or a recurring time interval, or they can be user-driven, such as when a form is submitted or a spreadsheet is edited. Triggers provide a way to automate tasks and ensure that your scripts run at the desired times or in response to specific actions.

Types of Google Apps Script Triggers

Time-driven VS Event-driven

  1. Time-Driven Triggers: These triggers are based on specific time intervals or specific dates and times. They can be set to run once or repeatedly at fixed intervals, such as every hour, day, or week. Time-driven triggers are useful for automating routine tasks, generating reports, or performing regular data updates.
  2. Event-Driven Triggers: These triggers respond to specific events within a Google Workspace application. For example, a trigger can be set to execute a function whenever a user submits a form, edits a spreadsheet, or opens a document. Event-driven triggers are ideal for real-time data processing, customized responses, or collaborative workflows.

Simple VS Installable

Simple Triggers

This type of event-driven trigger that can be created directly within the Google Apps Script editor without any additional setup. They provide basic automation capabilities and have limitations on the actions they can perform. Here are a few key points about simple triggers:

  1. Limited Functionality: Simple triggers can only call functions that are bound to the script’s container, such as a Google Sheets or Google Docs file. They cannot access external services or perform advanced operations.
  2. Predefined Event Handlers: Simple triggers have predefined event handlers, such as onOpen() and onEdit(), which are automatically executed when specific events occur. These triggers are limited to specific events and do not provide flexibility in choosing custom event handlers.
  3. User Authorization: Simple triggers run under the authority of the active user and have the same access permissions as the user executing the trigger. This means they can only access and modify data that the user has permission to access.

Installable Triggers

Installable triggers, also known as bounded or custom triggers, offer more flexibility and capabilities compared to simple triggers. They require additional setup and configuration but provide greater control over script execution. Here are some important points about installable triggers:

  1. Extended Functionality: Installable triggers can call any function within the script, including those that interact with external services, databases, or APIs. They offer more advanced capabilities for customization and integration.
  2. Custom Event Handlers: Unlike simple triggers, installable triggers allow you to define custom event handlers based on your specific requirements. You can specify the events, such as form submission or document opening, that trigger the execution of your custom functions.
  3. Trigger Management: Installable triggers can be managed, edited, and deleted through the “Triggers” menu in the Apps Script editor. You have more control over the trigger settings, such as specifying the event source, event type, and execution time.
  4. Service Authorization: Installable triggers can run under the authority of the script owner, granting broader access permissions. They can interact with data and services that the script owner has access to, including private data sources or external APIs.

Understanding the differences between simple and installable triggers is crucial for determining the appropriate trigger type based on your automation needs. While simple triggers are quick to set up and limited in functionality, installable triggers offer more power and flexibility but require additional configuration steps. Choose the trigger type that best suits your specific automation requirements and desired level of control.

Best Practices for Trigger Usage

  1. Start with simple triggers: If you are new to Apps Script, begin by using simple time-driven triggers to execute basic functions. This will help you become familiar with the trigger system and gradually explore more complex scenarios.
  2. Use event-driven triggers sparingly: Event-driven triggers can execute functions in response to user actions, but be mindful of the frequency of these triggers. Excessive use of event-driven triggers may result in high script execution times or API limitations.
  3. Test and debug your triggers: Before deploying triggers in production environments, thoroughly test and debug your scripts. This will help ensure that the triggers function as expected and avoid potential issues down the line.
  4. Monitor trigger executions: Keep an eye on the execution logs and error reports for your triggers. Regular monitoring will help you identify any issues and take necessary actions, such as adjusting trigger settings or modifying your scripts.

Creating Google Apps Script Triggers

To create triggers in Google Apps Script, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Apps Script editor by clicking on “Extensions” → “Apps Script” in your Google Workspace application.
  2. Write or open an existing script that you want to attach a trigger to.
  3. Click on the “Triggers” icon (a clock) in the toolbar of the script editor.
  4. In the Triggers dialog box, click on the “Add Trigger” button.
  5. Choose the function you want to trigger from the dropdown menu.
  6. Select the type of trigger: time-driven or event-driven.
  7. Configure the trigger settings based on your requirements, such as the specific time interval or event type.
  8. Save the trigger, and it will be attached to your script.
How to create Google Apps Script Triggers

An Alternative: Zenphi – No-Code Process Automation Tool

While Google Apps Script provides powerful scripting capabilities for automating tasks within Google Workspace applications, there is an Apps Script alternative available for those who prefer a more visual, time-saving and no-code approach. One such solution is zenphi, a no-code process automation tool that integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace. Here’s why zenphi can be a great alternative to Apps Script:

No Coding Required

With zenphi, you don’t need any programming knowledge or expertise. It offers a drag-and-drop interface and a wide range of pre-built actions and templates that allow you to automate complex processes without writing a single line of code. This makes it accessible to users of all technical backgrounds.

Visual Workflow Designer

Zenphi provides a visual workflow designer that allows you to create and manage your automation workflows easily. You can visually map out your process, define triggers, add conditions and actions, and create dynamic forms and approvals, all through an intuitive interface.

Seamless Google Workspace Integration

Zenphi integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace applications, including Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Calendar, Gmail, Directory, and more. You can automate processes that involve these applications, such as document generation and approvals, data processing, and mail merging, without the need for complex scripting.

Extensive Integrations Library

Zenphi offers a wide range of out-of-the-box integrations with other popular applications and services. You can connect zenphi with tools like Salesforce, Slack, Trello, HubSpot, Typeform, Microsoft Azure, Dropbox, and more, enabling you to automate end-to-end processes across multiple systems.

Data Mapping and Transformations

Zenphi provides built-in capabilities for data mapping and transformations. You can easily manipulate data, perform calculations, extract values, and format data to meet your specific requirements, all within the visual interface.

Tracking and Analytics

Zenphi offers real-time tracking and analytics features, allowing you to monitor the progress of your workflows, track performance metrics, and gain insights into bottlenecks or areas for optimization. This enables you to continuously improve your automation processes.

When to Opt for No-Code Solutions

While Google Apps Script and other scripting platforms offer extensive customization and flexibility, there are certain scenarios where opting for a no-code solution might be more advantageous. Consider the following situations:

Non-Technical Users

If you or your team members lack coding experience or prefer a visual interface, a no-code solution is a better choice. No-code tools provide a user-friendly environment with drag-and-drop functionality, making it easier for non-technical users to create and manage automation workflows without the need for extensive coding knowledge.

Rapid Development

When time is a crucial factor, no-code solutions shine. With pre-built actions, templates, and intuitive interfaces, you can quickly build automation workflows without spending time on scripting and debugging. No-code tools enable rapid development, allowing you to automate processes in a fraction of the time it would take to develop a custom solution using scripting.

Complex Integrations

If your automation workflows involve integrating multiple systems, services, or APIs, a no-code solution may be more suitable. No-code tools often provide an extensive library of connectors, making it easier to connect and orchestrate processes across various platforms. These integrations can be set up quickly and with minimal effort.

Scalability and Maintenance

No-code solutions can offer scalability benefits, particularly when it comes to managing complex processes that involve a large number of users, data sources, or steps. With visual workflow designers and built-in automation features, maintaining and scaling your automation workflows becomes more streamlined, reducing the need for extensive scripting and manual updates.

Process Agility and Collaboration

No-code tools are designed to facilitate agile workflows and collaboration among team members. They offer features such as task assignments, notifications, and approvals, allowing teams to collaborate and streamline processes effectively. No-code solutions often provide easy-to-use form builders that enable non-technical users to create dynamic forms and collect data seamlessly.


If you have made the decision to automate your tasks using Google Apps Script, familiarizing yourself with triggers is the crucial first step towards achieving success. By gaining a solid understanding of the various trigger types and implementing best practices, beginners can unlock the full potential of Google Apps Script, paving the way to seamless workflow streamlining and enhanced productivity.

While Google Apps Script is a powerful scripting platform for extending Google Workspace applications, alternatives like zenphi offer a no-code approach to process automation. With zenphi’s visual workflow designer, seamless integration with Google Workspace, extensive integrations library, and tracking capabilities, users can automate complex processes without the need for coding.

Whether you prefer the flexibility of scripting or the simplicity of a visual interface, both Google Apps Script and zenphi provide valuable tools for automating tasks and workflows within the Google Workspace ecosystem. Choose the option that best suits your skills, requirements, and preferences to streamline your processes.

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