Can I use Airtable for a simple neighborhood project?

Hi,

I am in charge of a little neighborhood project. I’ve collected almost 700 vinyl record albums from neighbors who no longer want them. I want to distribute them to the 15-20 other neighbors who do want them. Because of the pandemic and for scheduling purposes, I don’t want to just put the albums out on a table and invite the neighbors over to pick through them. So I have entered them into an Access database.

Since I am certain that there will be some albums chosen by more than 1 neighbor, I am developing an algorithm that will allow me to distribute them fairly.

What I need now is a way for the neighbors to let me know which albums they want. I thought about just sending out a printed list and letting them mark the ones they want, but this has a couple of problems. It is messy and error prone both for them and for me. And there are almost 700 albums.

I think a cloud-based application is the ideal solution. It would allow each neighbor to “log on” to the master list. They would see a list of the albums with title, artist, rpm (33, 45, 78), and condition (Mint, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor).

Those fields would all be read only. There would be one data entry field where they could enter a priority number (1-10). It would be great if they could sort the list on different columns. When they are satisfied with their choices, they tell the app to send the list to me. I would then merge the lists from all of the neighbors and apply my algorithm.

Is this something Airtable can do? If so, point me to where I can read up on how. If there are consultants who are experienced with Airtable, I’d be happy to pay one to get me started.

Thanks,

-Wes

PS: If this is not a good application for Airtable, I would appreciate any suggestions for alternatives.

You could make a shared view of your list of Records. Anyone with the link could view the records, sort them, and filter them.

I would think about this^ part differently. Consider having a separate table for “Requests”, where users could submit a form that has a few fields: a text field for their name (or use a “single select” field or a “link to another record” field if you want data consistency/easier grouping), a link to the Records table so they could select a record, and a number field for their priority for that record.

In this setup, each person would submit the form multiple times, one for each record they want.

You could then write a script (Javascript) that does whatever it is your algorithm was going to do to select who gets the record.

Its not exactly what you’re asking for, but it is in my view the simplest, least expensive way to do this strictly with Airtable. Your biggest problem with Airtable or other products would be the “each person ranks each record” data collection bit.

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Thanks for the reply, Kamille.

Are you saying that my approach can’t be done here?

I know that at least one person said they would take all of the records rather than have me dump them in the trash. Several others indicated that they would probably take quite a few (hundreds?). In that scenario, I don’t think your solution will work. I don’t want to get 200 forms submitted. And I think most of them would prefer to see all of their choices in a table and submit that once.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit. I think the best solution is what I suggested. If Airtable can’t do that, I’d appreciate suggestions for something that can.

Thanks

With just Airtable? Technically? If you have a Pro Plan you could make one ranking field in your Records table for each neighbor, then set the field’s edit permissions to only let that neighbor (and yourself) edit the values.

Caveats: every neighbor will have to make an Airtable account, you have to have a Pro plan that pays for each of their access, and this is woefully inefficient.

Couldn’t even begin to tell you. @ScottWorld , any ideas?

Hmmm… this is a tricky one. As @Kamille_Parks mentioned above, the challenging part is the “each person ranks each record” part.

Kamille gave 2 good workarounds above on how you could approach this with Airtable alone.

But if you really want to use Airtable as your backend for this, your best bet might be to custom-build your own JavaScript-based website that communicates with Airtable through its API on the backend.

Otherwise, you’d probably need to turn to a more advanced database system like FileMaker which could easily handle something like this, and it would also handle the creation of the website for you as well. I don’t do FileMaker development anymore, but if you reach out to me through my website at ScottWorld.com, I can refer you to some talented FileMaker developers.

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