Using variables in Smartsheet task names

I use Smartsheet to generate the Fedora Linux release schedules. I generally copy the previous release’s schedule forward and update target release date. But then I have to search for the release number (and the next release number, the previous release number, and the previous-previous release number) to update them. Find and replace is a thing, but I don’t want to do it blindly.

But last week, I figured out a trick to use variables in the task names. This way when I copy a new schedule, I just have to update the number once and all of the numbers are updated automatically.

First you have to create a field in the Sheet Summary view. I called it “Release” and set it to be of the Text/Number type. I put the release number in there.

Then in the task name, I can use that field. What tripped me up at first was that I was trying to do variable substitution like you might do in the Bash shell. But really, what you need to do is string concatenation. So I’d use

="Fedora Linux " + Release# + " release"

This results in “Fedora Linux 37 release” when release is set to 37. To get the next release, you do math on the variable:

="Fedora Linux " + (Release# + 1) + " release"

This results in “Fedora Linux 38 release” when release is set to 37. This might be obvious to people who use Smartsheet deeply, but for me, it was a fun discovery. It saves me literally minutes of work every three years.