Airtable and desktop prototyping

Hi folks,

I’ve done some searching and haven’t been able to find a clear answer on this. I’m a new user to Airtable and have been looking to understand a bit more around its integration with desktop prototyping tools such as Axure. Is there any recommended desktop prototyping application that integrates with the Airtable database? I think Airtable has some functionality with forms but nothing as robust as Axure or Sketch. I know there is also Adalo integration but I believe Adalo is for mobile apps.

Thanks in advance!

-Marc

Welcome to the community, @MARC_MOLINARO! :smiley: Most custom integration with Airtable happens through the Airtable API. To see what options are available there, open your account profile, and look for the “Airtable API” link directly above the space where your API key is listed. I’m admittedly not very familiar with desktop prototyping, so I’m not sure if this will suit your needs. If not, could you please go into further detail about how exactly you want to integrate with Airtable?

Thanks for the reply @Justin_Barrett !

I’m looking to run usability tests with high fidelity desktop prototypes measuring time, goal success rates and error percentages. Being a user of Axure it was easy to do this but always found it missing the ability to connect the prototype to a database giving the application an added level of functionality and depth. Reading about AirTable and its API capability i was wondering if its possible to take my prototypes to the next level and have them as near fully functional sites.

Hope that is clear!

Thanks again for the help.

-Marc

Thanks for the follow-up! Your goal is definitely more clear, but the solution isn’t. Only by digging into the Axure docs would you be able to determine whether or not it’s able of making API calls to online databases to pull data for testing purposes. Airtable is a purely web-based tool. Even the Airtable desktop app is simply a shell for a web browser to access the same interface. The API is the only way to pull Airtable data elsewhere (aside from services like Zapier or Integromat, but even those use the API to do their dirty work).

Awesome thanks @Justin_Barrett I guess my follow up question is; what third party application works well with Airtable to develop front end desktop applications or forms? I know there are plenty code based applications that can plug in using the API but im interested more in no code solutions such as Axure, Sketch, Figma etc where its a drag and drop editor.

Any ideas?

Thanks!

I’m afraid that I don’t have experience with desktop application development, so I’ll have to defer to others. I think @Bill.French might have experience in that category (I hope that’s a correct recollection). The vast majority of folks here (again hoping that I’m remembering correctly) develop for the web, but some probably do desktop dev work. I just don’t know who they are because the question almost never comes up. Sorry.

Yeah, unfortunately, this is the case, but it wasn’t fun.

Stepping back a little, the vast majority of database systems have moved to SaaS models and while this trend doesn’t rule out the inclusion of cloud-data in apps that are bound to the desktop (or any devices’ OS), it does present some challenges.

The very nature of early binding (i.e., compiled apps) is contrary to most SaaS integrations which are intentionally designed for lightweight loose couplings. Axure, for example, requires you to use .NET and C# to bind external data with services like Airtable. Indeed, it’s possible, but it’s not without some concerted programming effort. And therein lies the rub - Axure is a prototyping tool; who goes to great programming effort to integrate data into a prototype based on a codeless process?

I get it - Axure is amazing for building on an idea and mocking up flows and UX to the point where targeted users and developers can easily establish a mind-model of the solution. But, when it comes to integrating actual data in a functional way, a seriously high step has to be taken which is fundamentally contrary to the objective - prove the concept and then leverage that work as a requirements baseline.

In my view, the data in an Axure app should be mocked-up no differently than the images, the screens, and the process flows. I think there’s a way to do that by importing the content into the RP file.

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Much appreciated Bill - that makes sense. I’ve often had the same point of view with regards to building a functional application within Axure. It just defeats the purpose of what the application was built to accomplish.

I think what i’m after more is if Airtable + a no code front end design application (like Adalo) can upgrade my workflow by quickly building applications i can test instead of a lower functioning prototype i then throw away.

Appreciate the input on this and am really excited to dig deeper into Airtable.

Thanks!

Or, perhaps just Adalo? :wink: This product seems to suggest it’s a pathway worthy of consideration.

I’m kind of a fan of Adalo now that I’ve had the opportunity to build a back-end web service for Adalo’s custom actions. It’s quite effective as both a prototyping and development platform, which is difficult to find.

Adalo’s integrated ability to make Airtable requests and display data from views as well as filters (by query) make it quite a promising opportunity to transition from sketch to actual data-driven functionality.

If this marketing material about ToDesktop is to be believed, I think that might be your best near-no-code bet.

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I think @Bill.French you just dug up the No-Code application frontend that I was still looking for, for Airtable, before I ever would have time to write the connection with / or build an application frontend.
I will soon make some modest tests even if my summer’s script/test ToDo is already starting to get crowded.
Best,
oLπ

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If you can keep me posted on how it worked out for you it would be appreciated!

-Marc

Yes I will certainly do it but

I will keep you in touch : I’ve already pinned this thread !

Best,

olπ

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Hello and thank you for the “like” reminder.

I haven’t been able to start this point of my ToDo yet for poor technical reasons.

Why ? Nothing to do with ADALO but with my available dev time:

Extract from “My-DX-Logs” (optional reading in this thread) :

Poor technical reasons that I’ll explain one day in a Blog-Post to share them and avoid that other electronic designers, used to Patterns Generators and MultiChannel Logic Analysers plugged directly on their chip’s pins, who then became scripters, have to rewrite without notice entire modules of their personal library after the read-only props of their most familiar objects have suddenly become “undefined”…
Terrible experience after an apparent freedom to be able to read any (non-Prototype) properties of these objects day after day before it stops dead!

But this recent thread about ADALO <-> Airtable
is also responsible for the decrease of this early priority in my ToDo:

Feel free to “like” this message later to remind me to communicate my decision about ADALO and any experiences I may have to share about it.

olπ

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