Warning: Problem creating a public folder

Post date: Mar 27, 2014 7:33:43 PM

Update: The public folder is no longer required since version 1.301sv32 as explained in this post.

This is one of the two most common warnings, some users are getting. We are putting together some notes, references, and comments here, with the promise of updating this post as we learn more and adapt the add-on around this public folder requirement.

Is this a bug, an error, a malfunction of the Mapping Sheet add-on?

I would say, no.

However, it is a requirement that might become a limitation, specially for Google Apps accounts, when the domain administrator has disabled the public sharing settings.

Why is that public folder a requirement for this add-on?

  1. Mapping Sheets add-on relies on the use of a public folder within your Google Drive account, to host the mapping webpage and your data files.
  2. That folder needs public visibility and view permission, for this add on to work. It is a technical requirement for hosting the mapping page and the data files. Learn more about public folders on this Google post "Host webpages with Drive"
  3. The add-on will create the mapping folder (with name xsMapping) within your Google Drive account, and set the required sharing settings (public visibility and view permission). Learn more about visibility options on this Google post on "How to share"

Where are those sharing settings and how to change them?

  1. First, you need access to the add-on feature to install the Mapping Sheets add-on. This feature is enable by default, if you have any problem check this link with your domain administrator, to fix this issue. Go Admin console > Google Apps > Drive > General settings > Allow users to install Google Docs add-ons.
  1. Second, you need permission to install third-party Google Drive apps. This feature is enable by default, but it your domain administrator disabled it, you might get a message like "Exception: Action not allowed". Please, check this link with your domain administrator, to fix this issue. Go Admin console > Google Apps > Drive > General settings (or Data Access, if Unlimited) > Allow users to install Google Drive apps.
  1. By default, Google Apps domains allow for public sharing as shown in the image below. Accordingly, unless the domain administrator has changed those settings, the Mapping Sheets add-on should work fine on your account
  1. If you get that "Warning: Problem creating a public folder" and decide to change those settings back to default, you will need somebody with administrator access to your domain, if you are not an administrator
  2. A domain administrator can follow the steps on this Google post about "Document sharing options"

How exposed is my data on that public folder?

  1. Your primary data within the Google spreadsheet is private and it is not on that public folder
  2. The folder and its content can be accessed by anyone who has the link
  3. The add-on folder even though "public", is some how hidden behind that long and entangled (discombobulated, as a user pointed out) folder Id, as you probably has noticed
  4. Additionally, you can delete the add-on folder at any time, to generate a new one, with a different Id, if you believe it is compromised
  5. Starting on version 1.101sv10 we have included a robots.txt file within the mapping folder (xsMapping) to avoid search engines indexing the data files, increasing the privacy of your information. The content on that robots.txt file is currently as shown below, while we are still looking for ways to improve it
  6. User-agent: *
  7. Disallow: /
  8. We are already working on alternatives to have the option for private data files, but still not there
  9. We always welcome your suggestions