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Airtable - combining spreadsheets and databases

March 25, 2019

 

During the early days of computing, spreadsheets and databases happily coexisted because there was a clear separation of responsibility between the two paradigms. Spreadsheets were primarily used for financial calculations and modelling – they were a numerical calculation engine. Databases, on the other hand were used for maintaining data of organization (e.g. A shipment list, subscriber mailings, etc.) Unfortunately, databases were not as easy to use as spreadsheets. Various databases would require users to learn confusing blueprints of design interface.

 

For the sake of convenience, ordinary people started using spreadsheets as temporary databases. Users found an easy way to make a table using spreadsheets. Spreadsheets, that were primarily made for financial calculations were not being used as databases. Databases could’ve been easier to use and more spreadsheet like. Instead, spreadsheet software like Excel claimed a database like functionality in spreadsheet. The problem was that spreadsheet was pulled into a completely different direction. It resulted in problems like: Inability to properly link different tables together, lack of file attachment support, error-prone field types, bloated rows when long notes were entered, etc.

 

What users really need is a product that combines the fast and flexible aspects of a spreadsheet’s interface with the structure of a true relational database. By focusing on organizational use cases, this lightweight database would not compromise design elegance for the sake of number-crunching capabilities. It would be a real database with a quasi-spreadsheet interface, rather than a spreadsheet with quasi-database capabilities.

 

Airtable is an online organizational software with the power of a relational database but with the ease of use of a spreadsheet. It is a modern database that works across platforms, keeping data in sync real time. The benefits of using Airtable are as follows:

 

1. Links records between databases:

Airtable allows its users to link records between databases.  To better understand this functionality, users should first know the basic components of a database in Airtable. Generally, the software is made up of bases which contain all the information needed by an organization or a team. Bases organize information such as immunization records, applicant tracking, or the records of a local restaurant.

 

2. Email and social media integration:

Airtable helps you to automate work by using content integrations. You can connect Airtable with your favourite apps and services and can automatically move information back and forth between Airtable and other apps.

 

3. Collaborative workspace:

Airtable is build from ground-up to support effortless collaboration and has a variety of options for collaboration that’ll suit teams of all different sizes and needs. You can manage data accessibility, data restriction, working with outside members, etc.

 

4. Calendar Management:

If you have at least one date field in your table, you can create a calendar view. Calendar view allows you to look at your records on a calendar. Airtable has a set of advanced calendar features, designed so that teams with calendar-intensive workflows can get extra insights from their records and design extra-powerful calendars. These include the ability to define date ranges, as well as the ability to plot multiple date fields from the same table on a calendar. 

 

With the increase in workflow, it becomes important to manage data and Airtable is one of the best applications out there. Coworking spaces, like CoKarya, encourage their members to use such applications to manage their database.

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