Whether it’s fun or profitable, it’s not ideal for the core customers who have found Airtable and use it BECAUSE it’s largely a code-free solution. There are some ceilings and a number of less-than-ideal design choices, but it clearly resonates with users who just want to work with data and get work done.
I have a sense that many who love Airtable are IT’s disenfranchised; workers who have been marginalized or flat out ignored and partly perhaps because of the mobile revolution. Whatever the case, in this day and age, if you want something done, you take it into your own hands and Airtable certainly appeals to self-starters and doers.
I’m an “outside”, third-party developer. I have a pretty good day job at Stream It and I build techie AI crap for a living. However, with my deep perspective of democratized database systems (dBase II, 1980 and everything since), I can understand why Airtable is so attractive.
I can’t answer the growth rate question; haven’t been using it for more than a year - perhaps the Airtable team can chime in. But I must point out that I don’t see any movement on many of the very old product suggestions that are - in my opinion - critical features.
Color me worried (whatever color that is).
Actually, there are two key dimensions to this comment. Using the API to compensate for missing features and/or design choices that were poorly thought out is very different from integrating Airtable with other systems.
#1 - The API is weak. There is no support for events or webhooks and there are gating issues concerning rate limits. In that sense, it is incomplete and immature.
#2 - We live in an API economy. Do not expect every cool feature - however they may have been prototyped - to become candidates as new features in the core product. Some ideas should forever live in API-land.
And there’s a third aspect of feature compensation that I have noted in this forum - the use of insane and complex workarounds to overcome the lack of simple and elegant features that are typically well understood in the world of sheets and no-code databases. Twelve-level nested IF() statements are regularly flung around here like they’re a smart thing to do - and I’ve created some of them because I was bored with Sudoku. In reality, they lead to maintenance nightmares and long-term atrophy when a new hire has to take on the responsibility of whack-a-doodle data design.
Airtable’s future former customers are the businesses whose power-users have developed very complex workarounds. They are simply unsustainable in a climate where workers are fluid. When new features emerge will they get refactored? Probably not - no one ever repays code debt.
In my view, there’s a place for Airtable practically in every business and for every person. But, given its obvious constraints and limitations, adopters have a greater duty to assess and decide where this technology is best utilized.