Introducing Interface Designer 🎉

The fact that Airtable users want external people to have limited edit access to their bases (and no additional access) without paying $240/year per external editor is clear.

I may be making a lot of assumptions here, but Airtable had to decide on a method of building that external user interface first before it could grant limited access to anyone. And the ability to have a custom user interface is beneficial to users who are collaborators already. So it makes sense for Airtable to create that user interface builder and make it available to existing users as soon as the interface builder is ready, even if the other work for sharing the interface outside the organization isn’t ready yet.

Interfaces is still in beta and is barely a week old. It has a a few quirks and doesn’t yet have many of the features we want. However, I’m glad that Airtable decided to make Interfaces available now, rather than waiting until those additional features are built out.

Airtable has shown that they can periodically release incremental feature enhancements. I’m looking forward to seeing those future feature releases.

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Sure. But still, it would be nice to just get some insights in their plans. Because a recent interview with Aron doesn’t indicate that they are thinking about making Interface accessible for external user in the near future, as they are aiming for bigger companies with more challenging internal processes as clients.

So please don’t blame some of us for being curious about the future in stead of always be taking by suprise. Is it something they want to do someday, somehow, or is it at the absolute bottom of their backlog? :slight_smile: Also useful to give our clients some perspective before they invest (even more) into Airtable.

But all trust in Airtable of course :blush:

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Absolutely! I completely agree that it is always nice to have more information from Airtable regarding their roadmap.

Any Airtable staff members who have been reading these forums for a while already knows that users (especially consultants) want to know more roadmap information. Airtable just hasn’t chosen to publicly share what they plan to do about this fact.

My post was mostly a reaction to the many posts where people were complaining about Interfaces not being public facing. I wanted to recognize that (1) Interfaces is a great feature, even without public-facing support and (2) I have a lot of hope for public-facing interfaces eventually.

I think that part of the disappointment over interfaces not being public-facing is that Airtable underestimated the desire for public-facing interfaces. People built interfaces assuming that they could be publicly shared, because people really wanted public-facing interfaces. Then they were disappointed that the interfaces could not be public-facing.

If Airtable had announced Interfaces with verbiage that made it clear up-front that interfaces were currently only for base collaborators, there would have been less disappointment. If Airtable had shown interfaces to consultants pre-general availability and discussed setting release expectations regarding what interfaces could and couldn’t do, this mismatch in expectations might have been avoided.

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We’re 100% on the same page here. Thanks for your reaction :muscle:

They really, really did :exploding_head:

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A finer point might be to say that Airtable has never recognized the symbiotic relationship between those who produce information and those who consume information. Even where this segmentation is known, many vendors fail to realize that it comes in three sub-flavours:

  1. Few producers; many consumers.
  2. Many producers; few consumers.
  3. Many producers; many consumers.

Each of these flavours creates architectural and pricing complexities the likes of which are rarely considered.

Peeling this back a little further and you have formal users and casual users. A casual user might be a single worker who updates a single record once a week.

In the extreme, imagine a single no-code/low-code developer created a system that produces a unique data set that millions of people could benefit from. Another extreme is a scenario where hundreds of enterprise workers jointly produce information that is ideally suited for one person - the CEO.

Setting aside the inability of Airtable to accommodate mass demand, there is no pricing model that supports either of these success stories discretely. And while these are extreme scenarios, they are intended only to make a point -

Every market of producers has a market of consumers.

If your product addresses the needs of a specific producer but fails to consider the requirements of the producer’s consumers, traction will be fleeting.

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Good points.

I see three main overlapping roles:

  • System Developers
  • Data Producers
  • Data Consumers

In general there tends to be fewer developers than producers/consumers. In some business models, developers have to pay more than producers/consumers. (e.g. you pay to develop the system, but the system is free for your users). In other business models developers pay less (e.g. developer for free, pay only when you publish or pay per end user).

If the goal is to democratize software creation, it makes sense to have the same bill rate for developers as producers/consumers. It lowers the bar for someone to become a developer. Thus, while some may grumble that editors have to pay the same as creators for less functionality, I don’t see this as problem because I favor lowering the bar to becoming a developer.


When it comes to data producers, I see four really broad sub-categories:

  • regular users who need consistent, full access
  • limited users who need only partial and/or intermittent access
  • form users who submit data, but do not read any data
  • non-human data producers, such as api users

People accept that they must pay for regular users who need consistent, full access. However, people don’t like paying the same amount for limited users who need only partial or intermittent access. It is these limited users that Airtable’s pricing model does not currently address.

The intermittent access issue is sometimes addressed using “floating licenses” or “concurrent licenses”. One challenge with this method is how do you count one Airtable collaborator who is logged in and using multiple instances of Airtable at the same time.

The partial access issue has much tricker technological issues. Airtable’s original architecture was designed to make sharing information easy, and changing it to securely limit read access would probably be very complex. Preventing read access is actually much more difficult than just hiding a table in the user interface. I think Airtable decided that in order to securely “hide” selected data from users, a new interface was needed. (Think about it–all those third party portal systems that provided limited access to Airtable data all have their own user interfaces.) I think that Airtable’s “Interfaces” is a necessary step towards native support for limited read access.

The pricing model change to address these partial-access users also cannot be rolled out until after the method for providing partial access exists. I suspect that Airtable has already been investigating pricing model changes, but has not announced any because there would be no point when the underlying architecture is not ready.

The form users use-case is addressed with Airtable’s forms. These forms are not as robust as people would like, but AIrtable is not in the business of generating complex forms. Of course it would be nice if there were more options for customizing Airtable forms, but where does it end? There are many companies that do provide complex form services.

I also find it interesting that non-human data producers/consumers (REST API usage) do not incur additional fees from Airtable, but other businesses charges additional fees for API access.


Consumers. Airtable is actually really generous when it comes to people who are only consumers of data. Read-only collaborators are free across the board. Sharing filtered views is free. API access to publish using a 3rd party service is free.

Of course, people want even more sharing (e.g. sharing dashboards), but that involves read-only security. As before, I think that interfaces is a step towards read-only security–and there is even a “dashboard” layout.

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Great assessment and I like the granularity you added to tease out the developers who I typically lump into the producer category because I’m lazy.

This is a complex topic.

If you charge for API access, you are fundamentally placing a tax on innovation. Most vendors try to avoid disincentives that lead to lower adoption or suppress broader uses. But, even so, Airtable has created an API architecture (unlike other vendors) where a single API “user” could exhibit the load of hundreds of actual users - indeed, a gaggle of really aggressive users. This load - however light or well-designed it may be - is confined to the Airtable account; it is not a common resource with seemingly endless capacity. Unlike almost all other APIs, this API can negatively influence the performance that actual users experience.

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I like the implicit metaphor here…
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Is there a plan to include the ability to drop apps into the interface, such as pivot tables, or maps?

Are interfaces only accessible on Desktop?

This is perfect for my use case of sharing job info + daily scheduling with service technicians in the field, but they need to be able to access on mobile or tablet.

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At the moment, yes. Just as many users hope for public-facing interfaces to be added, I’m sure that adding interfaces to mobile apps is another big wish. I’m confident that it’ll happen, but the timeline is (as always) unknown.

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That’s exactly what I envisioned.

The output certainly feels mobile ready.

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Must watch: Table Talk #10: Behind The Scenes of Interface Designer

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WOW! Simply WOW!

I’m working with a man who’s is a creative genius but also is ADHD and dyslexic. The regular Airtable UI is not usable for him and is a bit tedious for me. I was starting to look at 3rd parties to front end our data. With Interfaces, Airtable has EXACTLY what we needed. I’ve been able to create highly visual and targeted update forms. Being able to and rich text and especially links was particularly helpful. These new UIs are really amazing. Currently we are using the Record View with filters to progress our workflows.

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Btw guys, is there a way to connect to multiple filter elements?

It’s an interesting start. My top two desires as of now are:

  • Cross-Base Interface, a true dashboard. (I know, I know this will be a sharing nightmare)
  • Embeddable Interfaces - allow sharing control like you do other shared views

You can use 1 filter for multiple “elements” if that’s what you mean?

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Hi @Databaser ,

I want to connect to two filter elements but it is unable to do so.

I tried another way, to have multiple condition in a single filter element, there is only “and” no “OR”

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I agree 100% with this. +1

Its not possible to pay 240 USD per year per each client or worker which will only modify a couple of records.

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