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Airtable Updates: April 2020

May 04, 2020

Airtable updates have been coming out at an increased rate recently and it's arguable that the updates from April 2020 are the most impactful to date. This past update included four massive improvements, each so powerful as to demand an entire post of its own. However, in the interest of expediency, I want to touch on them all from a high level to showcase the incredible improvements that Airtable launched.

Conditional lookup, rollup, and count fields:

To perform a conditional lookup in the past required extra steps that were hardly necessary. A lookup (rollup, or count) field couldn't include any logic within the field settings, so in order to perform a function conditionally, we had to first create a new field where we employed a formula to include data in specific conditions (and by default, to exclude data where conditions weren't met). Then, we could lookup this new 'conditioned' field and get our intended result.

Now Airtable has released an update that allows this logic to be built directly in the lookup (rollup, or count) field! Save a ton of time building your database with this new feature!

Conditional form field visibility:

Conditional form fields were previously impossible in the Airtable environment. As a byproduct, most Airtable users also maintained a form software to do the heavy lifting when more advanced forms were required. If you wanted questions on your form to appear or disappear based on responses, you had to rely on external software.

With this update, we can now create conditional fields within Airtable forms, largely removing the reliance on external forms! Now we can build dynamic forms directly inside the Airtable software!

URL preview block: option to use a specific field:

One of the newer Airtable blocks, the URL preview block, allows you to view the contents of a URL that is found directly in your database. This currently works with Figma, SoundCloud, Spotify, Vimeo, and YouTube links - but perhaps most exciting is the fact that it works with all Airtable share links. This has allowed us to essentially embed Airtable forms or views directly inside our database, giving us advanced actions without ever switching to a different browser window.

The upgrade to this block allows us to specify a field where the URL we desire resides, helping us by getting rid of two prior problems of the block. Firstly, we no longer have to click the URL we want to view - now we can merely click the row that pertains to the data and the block will find the corresponding URL. Secondly, we don't have to see a constantly blank preview - as we work with our data, the URL preview will be populated with the data that pertains to the records we are working on, where applicable.

Field & table editing permissions:

As if the first three enhancements weren't monumental enough, we now have the ability to lock down permissions at a table and field level. Yes, that means you can now choose a field to be 'uneditable' - meaning that no one can accidentally 'update' information and corrupt your data.

These permissions are available in a few ways, including the ability to grant permission to specific users, or to deny all edit access from all users in the database. Additionally, this fantastic feature extends to the table level as well, meaning that you can specify who is allowed to create new records or delete existing records.

To say that these updates are incredible is a massive understatement. I can hardly believe that we saw them all drop at the same time - any one of these updates would have been a game changer in its own right. To see them all release at the same time has my mind reeling with possibilities! What new things will you be building?


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