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Why FIELD TYPES make a smarter database

Feb 21, 2022

I've consulted on numerous Airtable databases and explored countless examples built by clients. As you might expect, I see a lot of errors... (I mean, there's a reason our clients are looking for help, right?) Many errors are quite complicated to fix, but in this post I want to help you get some quick wins! By far, the easiest action you can take to "clean up" your Airtable base is to audit your field types.

Every column you add to a grid view is called a field. In this way, fields are the vertical components that store data within your tables.

Most of us come from a spreadsheet background, so this doesn't sound very intimidating. However, the hidden difference is that every field we build in Airtable should be assigned a specific type of data. If undefined, a field type will default to text, but this can have far-reaching impacts on your database.

I suggest bucketing every field in two mutually independent cohorts, as follows...

For the first bucket, consider if a field can be edited or not - for this I use the terms "independent fields" and "dependent fields" respectively.

For the second consideration, it's important to note which fields can be used in the primary field (this is the left-most field in every table of your base). Not all field types are available in the primary field, so this will impact how you will plan your record names.

Check out this training to get more detail on my thoughts on Airtable field types. You may also wish to get a jumpstart by downloading my Field Types PDF here.

Plus, when you're ready to level-up with automation, check out my free training below! 👇


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