Airtable is a popular tool for managing and organizing data across your business processes. However, its effectiveness is greatly influenced by the specific requirements and conditions of your business. While it’s an ideal choice for many use cases, it isn’t always the best fit for every scenario.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about Airtable, including what it is, how it works, and when to use or avoid the software. We’ll also tell you more about Baserow’s powerful no-code database and why it’s the best alternative to Airtable if you’re dealing with large and complex datasets.
Airtable is a cloud-based project management tool that blends a traditional spreadsheet with the robust features of a database. It allows businesses to organize their workflow, data, and records in a flexible and visually appealing way without the need for any coding.
The software can be used to manage a range of tasks such as project planning, customer relationship management, or personal tasks and to-dos. It expands beyond regular spreadsheet functions to include an array of features such as rich field types, customizable forms, collaboration features, and a variety of integrations with platforms like Dropbox, Slack, and Jira.
Users can personalize how data is displayed with various view options like Grid, Gallery, and Calendar, as well as advanced filtering, sorting, and grouping features. As a relational database, it also offers the ability to connect related content across tables, preventing duplicate data entry and enhancing the collaborative experience by allowing users to tag, message, and share content across teams.
Setting up your first Airtable database can be complex, however, the platform provides a wide range of pre-built templates to help you get started easily, from personal planners to business themes such as product planning, project management, content calendar, and more. In addition, Airtable forms can be used to collect data and can be embedded on websites or shared via a link.
Airtable features a range of collaboration capabilities that allow users to assign tasks, share project statuses, tag and comment, and record activity history. It also makes it easy for teams to find and share relevant data, assign permissions to collaborators, and define various roles and levels of access.
As a relational database, one of Airtable’s standout features is in creating connections between data across tables. This feature allows users to connect related data across different tables, thereby reducing redundancy and also ensuring that data remains consistent and accurate across your database.
It also unlocks powerful functionality, like creating lookups and referencing data from connected tables.
Airtable offers native integrations with various apps such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Slack—and through services like Zapier, it can connect with hundreds more. This extends further with automation, allowing users to set triggers based on specific changes or inputs, enabling automatic actions such as sending notifications, updating records, or even initiating workflows in other integrated platforms.
Users can control who can see, comment on, or edit a given database or table. This includes options for read-only access, comment-only access, and full editing rights.
Airtable allows you to view your data in different ways. Grid view, which is the default view type, is a spreadsheet-style view that’s similar to Excel and Google Sheets. There are also other view types, like Kanban view, Calendar view, Gallery view, and even create a custom Form view. This flexibility helps tailor the data presentation to specific use cases based on the data and the people working with—or consuming—the data.
To begin using Airtable, you’ll first create a “base” (short for “database”), which is somewhat similar to creating a workbook in spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Zoho Sheet, LibreOffice Calc, etc. A base contains a table (or multiple tables), which is similar to sheets in Excel. Start by selecting a template tailored to your needs, like content planning or CRM, or start from scratch with a blank canvas.
Once inside a table, you can add records, or rows, of information. Each column, or field, in your table defines the type of information you can store—text, numbers, dates, checkboxes, and even attachments. Airtable offers the ability to create linked records, so rather than duplicating data across tables, you can link records between tables, creating a relational database structure.
To visualize your data, use different views like Grid, Calendar, Gallery, or Kanban. Filters, sorts, and group functions allow you to further customize how you work with your data. As your workflow evolves, you can integrate it with other apps or automate tasks using built-in automation and third-party integrations like Zapier.
This list of terms will help you better understand what Airtable is and its different features and functionalities:
Airtable has an impressive feature set, and its effectiveness will depend on the specific needs and context of your project or organization. It’s used across various personal and business scenarios such as content management, project planning, budget tracking, and more.
However, it’s important to note that while Airtable is versatile, it has limitations. For example, it’s not ideal for handling large datasets, it doesn’t offer the ability to self-host, and its integration and automation capabilities are not as extensive as other no-code platforms.
Airtable’s proprietary and cloud-only nature also means that businesses that have data governance, compliance, and security needs are unable to use Airtable. Furthermore, individuals, teams, and businesses that rely on Airtable experience heavy switching costs due to their strict vendor lock-in.
Airtable is best suited for scenarios where an individual or a business needs to:
You should probably avoid using Airtable if:
Here are some examples of when not to use Airtable:
The platform provides a tiered pricing structure, with four distinct plans tailored for different business sizes and requirements. Each plan has set limits on record counts and attachment storage per base. For those handling large data volumes or with multiple users, costs can escalate significantly.
Here’s a quick look at its pricing plans. Read more in-depth in our complete guide to Airtable’s pricing and hidden costs.
Baserow is the best alternative to Airtable if you’re looking for a no-code database with advanced functionality and a familiar spreadsheet-like interface. While Baserow offers many similar features to Airtable, it stands out with its flexibility, security, stability, and speed.
Here are 10 reasons to choose Baserow over Airtable:
Baserow’s open-source, no-code database, and application platform give you a better way to organize and record data by combining the familiarity of a spreadsheet with the power of an industry-leading relational database. It works via a user-friendly experience that lets you marry components and third-party program interfaces (APIs) until it works just the way you want it.
Perfect for organizations with complex needs or big volumes of data, Baserow lets you build impressive custom solutions with lots of functionality. Our online database is open source, so you can run it independently on your own server and avoid vendor lock-in.
Get started with a range of pre-built templates for product management and planning, human resources, marketing, information technology, sales, finance, and much more. All you have to do is import your data and you’re good to go.
Easily integrate your data for analysis and reporting, visualize it using a variety of views, and link it across multiple tables to handle complex workflows. Invite collaborators and assign permissions so that they have the resources they need to complete their tasks. And make data available to viewers publicly, controlling what they see by using filters or hide fields.
At Baserow, we use modern tools and frameworks like Docker, Django, Nuxt, and Vue so that you can easily write plugins or contribute. Plus, you can integrate other software including popular third-party work apps like Slack, Mailchimp, Stripe, and many more.
Baserow version 1.20 comes with email notifications, workspace level audit log, search for calendar view, new shortcuts, context menu improvements, and more.
Want to write a post in collaboration with us?How to contribute?