Launched: Script templates in the marketplace

Hi there! We’re excited today to announce the support for script templates in the marketplace.

We’ve been excited to see this community forum become a rich place for Airtable users to help each other out and collaborate. In particular, we’ve loved seeing the Airtable scripts that are shared on here - script authors sharing the generally-applicable scripts they’ve written with the broader Airtable community.

We wanted to support this type of script sharing in a first-class way, to get the scripts you write in front of even more Airtable users that could benefit from them.

Introducing: Script templates in the Marketplace

Script templates are pre-built Scripts that are now available in the marketplace. We’ve launched with 12 powerful script template use cases with more to come.

As an Airtable user, you’ll be able to “install” a script template from the Marketplace, which will create a new scripting app in your base that will be pre-populated with the code for the script.

Using the newly generally-available Script settings API, the script template can also automatically render a settings UI that allows users of the script to adapt it to their base without having to manually modify the javascript themselves. For example, if a script requires access to a “Task name” field in a “Tasks” table, Script Settings can provide the user a simple dropdown-based UI to select which specific table and field in their particular base the script should use. In this way, scripts can effectively become mini-apps.

If needed, you’ll then be free to directly edit the script code to customize it for your particular use case. Note that we currently only support Scripting App scripts in the Marketplace - Automation scripts are not yet supported.

We’re also taking script template submissions from our community that we’ll add to the marketplace. Similar to Apps, scripts templates submitted to the Marketplace will be reviewed by the Airtable team, and then published in the Marketplace along with a description of what the script does.

To get started writing a script, check out the documentation here.

Already built a script that you want to share? Submit it to the Marketplace here!

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Taylor,

This is great news! I think a lot of script power-users and developers will be excited to freely post new scripts to the marketplace.

I’m a little confused though - the term “marketplace” is commonly defined as:

an open square or place in a town where markets or public sales are held

The Airtable marketplace has no mechanism to support sales or commerce of any fashion and no indication that creators will ever be able to offer solutions and scripts in exchange for any form of compensation. Or, am I wrong about this?

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This looks like a convenient method for users of scripts to download and install scripts. It offers many benefits including an easy install method, and Airtable’s stamp of approval that the script functions as described without unexpected side effects.

However, what is the incentive for script writers to put their scripts in the marketplace? Most script writers will be very comfortable copying/pasting their scripts into new scripting apps, so they don’t really need an easier install process. On the other hand, giving away a script to the script marketplace makes it practically impossible to protect intellectual property or get compensated for the time and effort it took to write the script.

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Hey @Bill.French and @kuovonne!

In terms of monetization - we definitely hear you; in the longer-term, we do intend to enable developers to directly monetize their apps and scripts via the marketplace.

This release today is more in the short-term to support script “sharing” - similar to what we see frequently happening here in the forums, but with a broader potential audience.

How far away is “in the long term”? Months? Years? For how long do you expect script writers to give away their scripts?

Once you design a system for monetizing apps and scripts, will there be a system for converting existing released scripts so that they are monetized? Or if a script is released now for free, will it have to always be free?

Would Airtable consider offering a bounty for scripts with which to populate the script marketplace until a more robust system is set up? For example, would Airtable pay (either in cash or credits) a certain amount for scripts that the community finds useful as shown by number of downloads?

I think this is a smart idea; it drives directly at the issue which is simple economics 101. Until such time as skilled scriptwriters have incentives, this “marketplace” is unlikely to bear much fruit. It will be a large audience of takers waiting for a much smaller audience of givers unwilling to give that much.

I can say without question, I won’t be participating in script sharing unless it’s to repair someone else’s code. There are simply too many risks to copyright, intellectual property, and all without compensation. The legal implication is that anything published for free in a marketplace is by definition free-game - it could end up in someone’s product in China.

Brilliant idea! I would reconsider if the terms were right, but this still requires some discussion concerning IP ownership.

Thanks for sharing the news @Taylor_Savage

I agree with @kuovonne and @Bill.French

At least can we obfuscate the code we deploy in the “marketplace”?

Thanks

Hmmm… how would a script sharing marketplace function with obfuscated code?

And this is puzzling - this page shows this script example and indicates it’s in the marketplace, but it’s not actually available. What’s up with that?

Hi @Taylor_Savage ,

After nearly a year of Scripting App available on Airtable, after learning everything from 6 Community Members and as many Airtable DEVs, I would find it very normal to buy them some code to reuse after signing some kind of EULA with them.
As long as it’s a license purchase and not a monthly rental almost always too expensive for a small user with low traffic.
Although we’ve already argued about it, Airtable is still very cheap compared to any Third-Part Solution for a small individual account with low traffic.

But being a regular visitor to GitHub and other GIT and BIT, I find that the idea of code sharing is also viable as long as the Author decides.
I had reread the legal clauses for using Github in public sharing mode: yes, my own code could end up embedded in a Chinese toy and sold to a manufacturer’s profit.
I’m not saying I’m happy about it, but without Github the possible evolution of a coder that is not part of a big team would be less.

When I’ll be the owner of a modular App (split into reusable components (functions)) that I’ll consider presentable, I feel bad not to offer it here when I’ve learned everything here.

When I will own the second such App, I will be attracted to sell it.

I think that both formulas should continue to exist, here and on Github, and that it is up to the Author to decide whether he offers or sells: it is a private decision and both choices are beneficial and respectable.

I will finish by specifying that I don’t live on my code nor on Consultancy in this field: I am a Cinema Colorist, Teacher, and I code some of my tools (except DSP in which I am not qualified) when I consider it necessary.

oLπ

I hope that I was not too harsh in my previous posts. I actually think that a script marketplace with scripts that have been reviewed and vetted is a great idea. I look forward to seeing how the marketplace evolves. However I feel that there needs to be an incentive to script writers to write quality scripts. There clearly already is a demand for scripts.

I also submit a couple of other suggestions for Airtable’s consideration:

  • A style guide. Since Airtable will be vetting these scripts and end users will be seeing the actual code, Airtable has both an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure the quality of the code. I don’t mean just does the code function without security holes. I mean, is the code good ? Does the code have reasonable comments and formatting? Does the code make good use of the features provided by the api? Does the code have reasonable error catching? (If so, what is reasonable error catching in the context of a script? I suspect that this will vary greatly.)

  • “Locked” scripts. One of the reasons why someone might want to download a script from Airtable is because he can be sure of the quality of the code. However, since scripts cannot be locked, there is little to prevent accidental changes to the code, and ensure the continued quality of the code. There is also no code “history” or other method to revert back to an authoritative version of the code. If a locked script also had the option of hiding the code itself, that would also make script developers more comfortable releasing their scripts and would also relieve some of the responsibility of making sure the code is written with a reasonable style.

  • A review system for scripts. Every marketplace needs a review system.

  • A system for issuing updates.

  • A much better method for people to find scripts that fit their needs–categories, keywords, by developer, etc.

@Taylor_Savage, @chechedotmx raises an interesting point concerning obfuscation and I’d like to know Airtable’s view on this.

Imagine I submitted a script that is a really great benefit to users, but the script itself cannot be easily read or understood. Would you approve it for the marketplace?

This is an interesting idea. I’ve considered uglifying my code in scripts that I write for profit. I haven’t done it yet. Unless Airtable were provided with the original code and did the uglifiation process themselves, it would make reviewing and vetting the scripts very difficult. If the script made any external calls or used eval, I doubt reviewing it would be feasible at all.

This is my anticipated policy as well, which solidifies the unlikely commerce pathway with Airtable’s Marketplace. I still want to get the official position from them. :wink:

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