Add-on types

This page provides a general overview of the main add-on categories. These add-on types differ in what applications they extend, how they are created, what restrictions they have, and how they are published.

For more information about add-ons for specific G Suite applications, see the links provided in the below sections.

Gmail add-ons

The purpose of many emails is to get the recipient to do a specific task or reach a goal, such as adding a calendar event, filling out a form, making a reservation, or using other applications. However, recipients then have to complete the task without any further prompting, often doing a number of manual steps.

You can save time and effort for your users by automating these tasks with Gmail add-ons. When a user reads pr composes a message in Gmail, a Gmail add-on can present a interactive, customized UI that lets the user act on the message in various ways, such as by:

  • Displaying additional information for the user in the Gmail UI.
  • Connecting to non-Google services, to retrieve information or take other actions.
  • Providing the means to control the add-on behavior or send information to another service.

The video above shows how you can build an add-on to import receipt information directly from Gmail into a Google Sheet to help your users process their expense reports from one place.

Gmail add-ons have the following properties:

  • Gmail add-ons, once installed, can be used within both Gmail desktop clients and the Gmail Android app on mobile.
  • Gmail add-ons define a card-based add-on interface using a widget library collection provided by the Apps Script Card service. You only need to create a single interface—it is used for both desktop and mobile clients. You do not need any expertise with HTML or CSS when defining these interfaces.
  • Your Gmail add-on can provide an interface when the user is reading messages, when the user is composing a message, or both.
  • You can publish Gmail add-ons to the G Suite Marketplace where others can find and install them. When you publish, you can restrict the availability of your add-on to only your organization or make the add-on available globally.
  • All add-ons have a set of scopes that define what the add-on is permitted to do on behalf of the user. When a user installs an add-on, they are asked to authorize those actions. Because Gmail data is often very sensitive, many of the scopes associated with Gmail are classified as restricted. Add-ons that use restricted scopes are subject to close scrutiny by Google and must meet additional requirements before you can publish them. For this reason, it's best to avoid restricted scopes if you intend to publish your Gmail add-on publicly.

Editor add-ons

Editor add-ons extend one of the Google Drive editor applications. Each editor add-on type (for example, Sheets add-ons) can have its own set of type-specific capabilities, restrictions, and special considerations. When building editor add-ons, it's important to understand these editor-specific details. For more details on add-ons for specific editors, see the corresponding sections:

Editor add-ons are generally used to improve productivity when working with G Suite. For example, editor add-ons can automate common editor tasks such as file creation, editing, formatting, and moving data between applications. Editor add-on interfaces are highly-customizable for the tasks at hand.

Editor add-ons behave differently from Gmail add-ons in the following ways:

  • Editor add-ons can create interfaces consisting of menu items, dialogs, and sidebars. Add-on dialogs and sidebars are defined using standard HTML and CSS.
  • Editor add-ons have special authorization rules because they create, modify, or otherwise interact with files within Google Drive. It is important to understand the Editor add-on authorization lifecycle while developing an editor add-on.
  • Files created and updated in each editor have specific structures. For example, Google Slides presentations are composed of pages which can be slides, masters, or layouts. You should understand these file structures, as add-ons often interact with them when reading or editing files.
  • Editor add-ons only function in desktop clients, not Android or iOS.

Android add-ons

Android add-ons are a different experience from the other add-on types. Android add-ons are components of an existing Android app (or a full Android app by itself), that extend Google Docs or Google Sheets Android app. When a user starts an Android add-on they have installed from one of these apps, it can receive context information from the Google Docs or Google Sheets app, present a customized Android interface using that data, take actions the user specifies, and then send information back to the calling app to update the file being worked on.

Android add-ons have the following properties:

  • Android add-ons are Android applications and use the Android development platform to control behavior and define the user interface. They are published to the Google Play Store like any other Android app.
  • These add-ons only extend the Google Docs and Google Sheets mobile experience. Other G Suite applications can't be extended this way.
  • Android add-ons are usually designed as components of a larger, existing Android app. They don't change the Google Docs or Sheets app interface, except to provide a set of menu items that launch the Android add-on from different contexts.
  • Android add-ons can receive context information from the calling Google Docs or Google Sheet app. The add-on can use the Apps Script API to call functions in separate Apps Script projects to manipulate this data and construct an appropriate response to send back to the calling app.
  • Android add-ons can't create or modify Apps Script triggers.