Managing Wordpress from Airtable

I’d like to use AirTable as a backend for Wordpress.

  • Is there a wordpress plugin to so ? (I already know AirPress)
  • How would you organize your Post in a AirTable ? and more precisely how would you handle Markdown from AirtTable rich fields and images ?

I give a try to AirPress it’s great but it doesn’t go very far

  • It do not handle Markdown fields
  • It seems there is a “timeout” on AirTable Images ? So the URL is quickly forbidden
  • I need to do custom trick in order to handle from markdown field

May be I should you an other FrontEnd than Wordpress ? (I chose Wordpress because it power half of the web ;-))

May be I should explicitly post and update Wordpress instead of using virtual fields ?

This is not an ideal mix of technologies to achieve your likely publishing objectives.

Yes, Airtable can be a website backend, but with API limitations as they are, any kind of success with your content will result in a declining visitor experience unless you create a conditional cache layer between Wordpress and Airtable content. And by website success, I don’t just mean lots of requests from actual human visitors. Bots and nefarious web actors alone will stress even the best-designed web sites.

Indeed, and it doesn’t support HTML [well] either.

Precisely; because it can’t go very far without a lot of enhancements involving some very technical challenges.

Airtable advises everyone - DO NOT EXPECT ATTACHMENTS TO PERFORM LIKE A CDN. As such, this layer needs to be cached as well - i.e., use the API to forward cache all attachments needed at the edge where website visitors are.

Wordpress is not the issue; it’s Airtable - it wasn’t specifically designed for this mix. You can do it and you can spend a lot of time overcoming the dysfunctional elements, but that doesn’t make it a wise choice.

I use WordPress and Airtable in two ways.

In one website I write my posts in Artable in markdown. Then I convert the markdown to html and finally push the html to WordPress. My early versions of the custom apps for these processes are in the custom blocks contest. There are no Airtable caching issues because once I push the post to WordPress, the post is served from WordPress, not Airtable.

In the other website, I use the AirPress plugin to display member specific information stored in Airtable. Between AirPress’s built in caching and the fact that the info from Airtable is available only to members, traffic is well within Airtable’s API limits.

@kuovonne thanks yes I had the 2 options too. I think the AirPress idea is clean because you don’t have to duplicate your data.

@Bill.French I think there is no issues with performnce because there is some caching in AirPress. Off course image should be cached (samle issue with dropbox) I don’t know why my image link was quickly unavailable…

About UX, Wordpress is great for a Blog but AirTable is very handy for structured content, and the bonus is that you can manipulate data more easily than wordpress.

Airpress is a really great idea but I agree it should be improved. It could be a very clean way to have a front end to airtable content

Your originaly intimated you had all but rejected AirPress, ergo - you would have to be very concerned with content caching if you built it yourself. And images can be an issue regardless of your strategy. Bottom line - Airtable can do it but there’s a lot of dooing to make it do it.

Yes - it could be. Good luck with your project!

The developer of AirPress made it available for free, so he doesn’t have a financial incentive to improve it.

In my website I push entire posts from Airtable to WordPress. I don’t worry about the duplicate data because I only ever update the post from within Airtable, and I never edit the posts in WordPress.

I handle markdown by automatically converting the markdown to html in Airtable. I host my images outside of Airtable and include them in my markdown with markdown image tags. When the markdown is converted to html, the markdown image tags are converted to html image tags. When I’m editing, I have a markdown previewer that shows the images as I edit.

Thanks for the answers !

The developer of AirPress made it available for free, so he doesn’t have a financial incentive to improve it.

Yes, I also work on OpenSource project, it’s hard (great power great responsabilities :slight_smile: )

@kuovonne
I handle markdown by automatically converting the markdown to html in Airtable

Interresting how do you do the conversion ? Using automation script feature ?

@kuovonne
I host my images outside of Airtable and include them in my markdown

Hum, the image feature from AirTable are very handy, with thumnbnail, etc … may be I could use them from their name and resolve URL in an automation script

It could be a very clean way to have a front end to airtable content

I don’t have time :frowning: too many side project … but I hope AirTable team will think about a robust front end solution because their database/backend are really cool !

I’ve done it different ways.

  • a custom app that also shows an html preview
  • a button that I have to click
  • an automation script

I don’t use the automation script anymore because I feel that it wastes automations. My favorite is the custom app that shows the html preview, but installing the custom app to other bases is a bit of a pain, so on some projects, I’ve gone the button script route because it is easier to setup.

Getting the url from an image in an attachment in Airtable is easy. You can do it with a formula field. However, I don’t recommend using that url in your website. That isn’t supported, as Bill mentioned. Airtable could change the url at any time and break your website (although it probably won’t.)

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There are also many other ways of making a web front end with an Airtable back end with third party tools. Pory, Airconnex, Stacker, Mini-Extensions, and WebFlow all come to mind.

I personally like WordPress because the monthly fee for webhosting all the websites that I manage is less that the monthly fee for a third party service, and I like some of the other features that WordPress offers.

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Yes and Wordpress power many many web site around the world. It’s not a trendy startup.

How do you CRUD (Create/Update) AirTable to Wordpress ? Do you use a custom code or do you use IFTTT / Integromat / … ? If I do it that way I think i’ll have to use custom code (with a middleware server) in order to perform Markdown to HTML with custom rules and upload attachements, tags, etc …

Yep - this is one of the complexities you will run into.

It’s important to note that you can use the entire Markdown spec in Airtable content. Airtable [itself] doesn’t support it, of course, but this doesn’t prohibit you from using it as a publishing grammar in your content management base. However, you will be responsible for transformations into HTML because Wordpress won’t do this for you unless you integrate with a plugin like this. You can also use javascript libraries to perform these transformations but this requires a proxy server to perform these transformations.

As I mentioned in my first post, I use custom apps that I developed specifically for this purpose. You can get early versions of these apps from Airtable’s Custom Block contest.

I predict some enterprising developer will eventually create a full markdown editor in a custom app that renders and edits the complete Markdown spec while quietly storing the content in a long [hidden] text field.

Aside from implementing spec it would be awesome to able to link an attachment, or record or contributor. something like Myh Record the tricky part would be to treat this link as a “hard link” so it would be possible to perform backlink

For instance all the “markdone notes” talking about “something” without having to add a dedicated column. (yes it could be done by parsing + hidden column)

We are building Softr.io , which allows building powerful websites & web-apps using Airtable as a backend, in 10 minutes. We are soon releasing the User Accounts functionality, so users will be able to create Membership websites, like marketplaces, listings, upvoting sites and more :smiley:

Feel free to check it out, it’s free - www.softr.io, and let me know if you have specific questions!

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