Calculate driving distance & convert meters to miles

Coding level: Beginner
Duration: 10 minutes
Project type: Custom function and automation with a custom menu

About this solution

Using custom functions, you can calculate the driving distance between two locations and convert the distance from meters to miles. An additional automation provides a custom menu that lets you add step-by-step directions from the start address to the end address in a new sheet.

Screenshot of driving directions in a sheet.

How it works

The script uses 2 custom functions and an automation.

  • The drivingDistance(origin, destination) function uses the Maps Service to calculate the driving directions between two locations and return the distance between the two addresses in meters.
  • The metersToMiles(meters) function calculates the equivalent number of miles for a given number of meters.
  • The automation prompts the user to enter which row of start and end addresses to calculate the driving directions for and adds the step-by-step driving directions to a new sheet.

Apps Script services

This solution uses the following services:

  • Spreadsheet Service: Adds the custom menu, adds demo data to test this solution, and formats the new sheets when the script adds driving directions.
  • Base Service: Uses the Browser class to prompt the user to enter a row number for directions and alerts the user if an error occurs.
  • Utilities Service: Updates templated strings with user-specified information.
  • Maps Service: Gets step-by-step Google Maps directions from the start address to the end address.

Before you begin

To use this sample, you need the following prerequisites:

  • A Google Account (Google Workspace accounts might require administrator approval)
  • A web browser with access to the internet

Try it

Step 1: Set up the spreadsheet

  1. Make a copy of the Calculate driving distance and convert meters to miles spreadsheet.
    Make a copy
  2. To add headers and demo data to your sheet, click Directions > Prepare sheet. You might need to refresh the page for this custom menu to appear.
  3. When prompted, authorize the script.
  4. Click Directions > Prepare sheet again.

Step 2: Get driving distance & directions

  1. In cell C2, enter the formula =DRIVINGDISTANCE(A2,B2) and press Enter. If you're in a location that uses decimal commas, you might need to enter =DRIVINGDISTANCE(A2;B2) instead.
  2. In cell D2, enter the formula =METERSTOMILES(C2) and press Enter.
  3. (Optional) Add additional rows of start and end addresses and copy the formulas in columns C and D to calculate the driving distances between various places.
  4. Click Directions > Generate step-by-step.
  5. In the dialog, enter the row number of the addresses for which you want to generate directions and click OK.
  6. Review the driving directions in the new sheet the script creates.

Open the Apps Script project

The sample script's code includes in-line comments to help you understand how it works. To access the code, in the spreadsheet, click Extensions > Apps Script.

Review the code

To review the Apps Script code for this solution, click View source code below:

View source code

sheets/customFunctions/customFunctions.gs
/**
 * @OnlyCurrentDoc Limits the script to only accessing the current sheet.
 */

/**
 * A special function that runs when the spreadsheet is open, used to add a
 * custom menu to the spreadsheet.
 */
function onOpen() {
  try {
    const spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
    const menuItems = [
      {name: 'Prepare sheet...', functionName: 'prepareSheet_'},
      {name: 'Generate step-by-step...', functionName: 'generateStepByStep_'}
    ];
    spreadsheet.addMenu('Directions', menuItems);
  } catch (e) {
    // TODO (Developer) - Handle Exception
    Logger.log('Failed with error: %s' + e.error);
  }
}

/**
 * A custom function that converts meters to miles.
 *
 * @param {Number} meters The distance in meters.
 * @return {Number} The distance in miles.
 */
function metersToMiles(meters) {
  if (typeof meters !== 'number') {
    return null;
  }
  return meters / 1000 * 0.621371;
}

/**
 * A custom function that gets the driving distance between two addresses.
 *
 * @param {String} origin The starting address.
 * @param {String} destination The ending address.
 * @return {Number} The distance in meters.
 */
function drivingDistance(origin, destination) {
  const directions = getDirections_(origin, destination);
  return directions.routes[0].legs[0].distance.value;
}

/**
 * A function that adds headers and some initial data to the spreadsheet.
 */
function prepareSheet_() {
  try {
    const sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet().setName('Settings');
    const headers = [
      'Start Address',
      'End Address',
      'Driving Distance (meters)',
      'Driving Distance (miles)'];
    const initialData = [
      '350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118',
      '405 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10174'];
    sheet.getRange('A1:D1').setValues([headers]).setFontWeight('bold');
    sheet.getRange('A2:B2').setValues([initialData]);
    sheet.setFrozenRows(1);
    sheet.autoResizeColumns(1, 4);
  } catch (e) {
    // TODO (Developer) - Handle Exception
    Logger.log('Failed with error: %s' + e.error);
  }
}

/**
 * Creates a new sheet containing step-by-step directions between the two
 * addresses on the "Settings" sheet that the user selected.
 */
function generateStepByStep_() {
  try {
    const spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
    const settingsSheet = spreadsheet.getSheetByName('Settings');
    settingsSheet.activate();

    // Prompt the user for a row number.
    const selectedRow = Browser
        .inputBox('Generate step-by-step', 'Please enter the row number of' +
        ' the' + ' addresses to use' + ' (for example, "2"):',
        Browser.Buttons.OK_CANCEL);
    if (selectedRow === 'cancel') {
      return;
    }
    const rowNumber = Number(selectedRow);
    if (isNaN(rowNumber) || rowNumber < 2 ||
      rowNumber > settingsSheet.getLastRow()) {
      Browser.msgBox('Error',
          Utilities.formatString('Row "%s" is not valid.', selectedRow),
          Browser.Buttons.OK);
      return;
    }


    // Retrieve the addresses in that row.
    const row = settingsSheet.getRange(rowNumber, 1, 1, 2);
    const rowValues = row.getValues();
    const origin = rowValues[0][0];
    const destination = rowValues[0][1];
    if (!origin || !destination) {
      Browser.msgBox('Error', 'Row does not contain two addresses.',
          Browser.Buttons.OK);
      return;
    }

    // Get the raw directions information.
    const directions = getDirections_(origin, destination);

    // Create a new sheet and append the steps in the directions.
    const sheetName = 'Driving Directions for Row ' + rowNumber;
    let directionsSheet = spreadsheet.getSheetByName(sheetName);
    if (directionsSheet) {
      directionsSheet.clear();
      directionsSheet.activate();
    } else {
      directionsSheet =
        spreadsheet.insertSheet(sheetName, spreadsheet.getNumSheets());
    }
    const sheetTitle = Utilities
        .formatString('Driving Directions from %s to %s', origin, destination);
    const headers = [
      [sheetTitle, '', ''],
      ['Step', 'Distance (Meters)', 'Distance (Miles)']
    ];
    const newRows = [];
    for (const step of directions.routes[0].legs[0].steps) {
      // Remove HTML tags from the instructions.
      const instructions = step.html_instructions
          .replace(/<br>|<div.*?>/g, '\n').replace(/<.*?>/g, '');
      newRows.push([
        instructions,
        step.distance.value
      ]);
    }
    directionsSheet.getRange(1, 1, headers.length, 3).setValues(headers);
    directionsSheet.getRange(headers.length + 1, 1, newRows.length, 2)
        .setValues(newRows);
    directionsSheet.getRange(headers.length + 1, 3, newRows.length, 1)
        .setFormulaR1C1('=METERSTOMILES(R[0]C[-1])');

    // Format the new sheet.
    directionsSheet.getRange('A1:C1').merge().setBackground('#ddddee');
    directionsSheet.getRange('A1:2').setFontWeight('bold');
    directionsSheet.setColumnWidth(1, 500);
    directionsSheet.getRange('B2:C').setVerticalAlignment('top');
    directionsSheet.getRange('C2:C').setNumberFormat('0.00');
    const stepsRange = directionsSheet.getDataRange()
        .offset(2, 0, directionsSheet.getLastRow() - 2);
    setAlternatingRowBackgroundColors_(stepsRange, '#ffffff', '#eeeeee');
    directionsSheet.setFrozenRows(2);
    SpreadsheetApp.flush();
  } catch (e) {
    // TODO (Developer) - Handle Exception
    Logger.log('Failed with error: %s' + e.error);
  }
}

/**
 * Sets the background colors for alternating rows within the range.
 * @param {Range} range The range to change the background colors of.
 * @param {string} oddColor The color to apply to odd rows (relative to the
 *     start of the range).
 * @param {string} evenColor The color to apply to even rows (relative to the
 *     start of the range).
 */
function setAlternatingRowBackgroundColors_(range, oddColor, evenColor) {
  const backgrounds = [];
  for (let row = 1; row <= range.getNumRows(); row++) {
    const rowBackgrounds = [];
    for (let column = 1; column <= range.getNumColumns(); column++) {
      if (row % 2 === 0) {
        rowBackgrounds.push(evenColor);
      } else {
        rowBackgrounds.push(oddColor);
      }
    }
    backgrounds.push(rowBackgrounds);
  }
  range.setBackgrounds(backgrounds);
}

/**
 * A shared helper function used to obtain the full set of directions
 * information between two addresses. Uses the Apps Script Maps Service.
 *
 * @param {String} origin The starting address.
 * @param {String} destination The ending address.
 * @return {Object} The directions response object.
 */
function getDirections_(origin, destination) {
  const directionFinder = Maps.newDirectionFinder();
  directionFinder.setOrigin(origin);
  directionFinder.setDestination(destination);
  const directions = directionFinder.getDirections();
  if (directions.status !== 'OK') {
    throw directions.error_message;
  }
  return directions;
}

Contributors

This sample is maintained by Google with the help of Google Developer Experts.