Airtable is a popular cloud-based spreadsheet and database service. It allows you to link tables to each other or third-party services and build various business applications without writing much code.
Their headline claims that one can “build apps that connect everything.” Regardless of the data source, users can bring it into Airtable to organize, connect, and format it the way they want. The platform was founded in 2013 by Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad, and Emmet Nicholas. At first, investors had no clue why they needed another spreadsheet service, considering Excel and Google Sheets were around. The founders, however, managed to convince them that Airtable provides a new approach to working with data.
Sure thing: Airtable can do the same things as spreadsheet processors like Excel, but the platform’s potential shines when working in conjunction with low-code platforms. The platform can be used to create both simple tables and large multi-linked databases or applications for business and management.
Working with Airtable tables is convenient owing to a streamlined workflow and useful features that most competitors don’t have. For instance, when you create a column, you must specify the name and type of the field. Unlike most spreadsheet processors, Airtable has a dedicated space for the field name.
Certainly, you can change tables the way you want. List items are highlighted in different colors, images in the Attachment field have thumbnails, and cell sizes are adjusted from “small” to “very large” in two clicks. However, Airtable is much more than tables. In the Views tab, you can create:
- Kanban board;
- Gantt charts.
The main features of Airtable are:
- About 30 built-in data types;
- Relationships between tables;
- Six ways to display data, including a Kanban board and forms;
- API for interacting with other applications.
Airatable features are rich. For instance, you can add and store data in different forms - from standard (text, number, and dates) to additional ones, such as links, attachments, or dropdowns. It’s possible to:
- Establish relationships between tables and create a relational database;
- Customize the workspace and customize the expression of data using color schemes and icons, convenient customization of columns and rows of tables;
- Work using pre-defined templates. There are about a couple hundred of them.
- Connect extensions and scripts, making an interactive tool from a data table.
- Connect third-party services via API and make integrations with other tools, including no-code builders.
- Make a web application from a table with data.
- Import third-party application files into Airtable: CSV files from Excel, Trello, and others.
- Work with a remote team in a single workspace and streamline the collection and processing of information.
It’s possible to create tables from scratch or use ready-made templates. The library contains more than 60 standard solutions for business, marketing, education, routine tasks, and other areas. Plus, the marketplace offers more than 200 applications that extend the possibilities of spreadsheets to a great extent. For instance, you can visualize colorfully, summarize posts and directly integrate databases with third-party services using a page builder.
Airtable offers four pricing plans. Let’s have a quick overview, shall we?
For one person or small teams. 2 GB of attachments, 1200 entries in the database, one application, one integration, 5 authors and editors. There are no restrictions on the number of bases, comments and access to view. Great for learning how to use Airtable.
$10/month per person. It has everything in the free plan, plus 5.000 entries, 3 integrations, 3 apps, 5 GB of attachments, more customization options, six months of saving the history of changes.
$20/month per person. Everything in the free plan, plus 50.000 entries, 10 apps, 7 integrations, 20 GB, a year of revision history, and more personalization capabilities.
Ideal for big businesses, and there’s no fixed price for this plan. Available resources are doubled, plus, you have 3 years of change history, and personalized customer support.
Pros and cons
Below is the most interesting part for many of our readers - the Pros and Cons section. Without further ado, let’s dive straight into Airatable’s peculiarities.
- Working with data is easy. It’s possible to use tables with any type of data, formulas, and analytics;
- The ability to turn a table from an interactive workspace into a web application. Plus, you can connect tables with third-party services;
- Rich customization and management features;
- One can maintain a strict order of information. For example, a separate place is reserved for the column’s name - this is not available in many spreadsheet editors;
- Airtable has a clear and pleasant interface;
- Awesome data visualization features. Different data presentation options help you work more efficiently;
- Airtable is a powerful tool for working remotely;
- Lots of learning material and strong user community.
- Due to its multi-functionality, Airtable can be a bit difficult to master;
- It is impossible to fine-tune the access rights to the database, access to each participant is given immediately to the entire database, and this may be unsafe;
- The limit per database is only 50.000 rows. When many entities are created, it’s a bummer.
Once you create a database, Airtable will generate an API that your applications or third-party services can use to create, update, delete records in tables, or get data. Entries in requests are packaged in JSON and sent over HTTP. You cannot send more than five requests per second to the API. If you exceed the limit, Airtable will send a message with the code 429, and you will have to wait up to 30 seconds before the next send.
All in all, mastering Airtable is both easy and difficult at the same time. On the one hand, due to the abundance of features, one may not know where to start. On the other hand, the interface is so intuitive that many functions are understandable at a subconscious level. If you still can’t figure it all out, there are lots of video tutorials and user tips on the Internet.
But enough with theory. What about some actual user reviews?
“If you’re familiar with JIRA settings, you would definitely come to the conclusion that any “issue tracker” or CRM is a table with records from the required fields, where the records go through a certain workflow. Each service developer rivets “their own tables” with their own fields, names the statuses of the workflow in their own way, hoping to guess your needs. But everyone has their own tasks, so one thing is suitable for someone, another for someone else.
Airtable goes the other way, it allows you to create your own solution for your needs, and it's as easy as a spreadsheet. Within one database, you can create different tables, link them, define statuses, labels, add files, pictures. Tables can have different views and filters. Data for any table can be collected in the form of a form. Up to the point that you can post a form on the site and collect applications directly in Airtable, then assign them to people, track progress. Everything is very simple and clear”. - Alex, Product Hunt.
“A good UI allows you to implement almost any business functionality. Task list, client list, applicant list and all activities around them. This is actually a database, only with a human interface”. - Gleb, Product Hunt.
Low-code platforms for you
All in all, Airtable is great. However, you might be interested in getting familiar with low-code builders you can use in conjunction. So far, we’ve covered:
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