Primary key and foreign key


I am not referring to the iPhone app. I am using Google Chrome and supplied a screen cap.
You have created a much better explanation using the like dog example and explaining that the search is a string.

In my example picture I have lots of assets and an assets table. I have different ways to label an asset. I see more value in a google like search than simply a string search. If the aim is intuitive and simplicity, then my search (as seen in screen cap) should return results. I kept the record visible in screen cap not to fan a flame and say I want or expect a feature that has no use, but because you can see the result wanted on the screen. I show the records because they could be buried deep among 100’s of other records, but they exist, just not shown through my “find” search.

I do not mean to quibble either because I love google and they have a search bar I love!! I also included a screen cap to make clear what search i intend to type and what results i expect out.

My comment earlier holds true:
" I could create a filter or a new view with a filter, but then it wouldn’t be quick, or intuitive."

If the search gave back results that had tomatoes and beef, contained somewhere within a record, across all the columns, this would be more intuitive. If you further created the ability to use commands in the “find” it could make it more intuitive. Ex. adding quotes around a string to do an exact match search.

I applaud you on explaining very clearly how the “find” search works. My intention is to share how I think the search would intuitively and quickly work, without regard to how it does work.

I will certainly create views with filters to fulfill specific needs. I look to the “find” search to be a powerful intuitive search capability when I need to find that one record that needs to be addressed.

Also, feel free to check out my base to get inside my head. You can get an idea of wtf I am doing on this site beside to quibble with people that actually understand database stuff. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, Will, your patience should be commended!


This is good. I think we’re almost there. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

So, I gather what you’d like is to be able to type a couple of unrelated terms (“beef tomatoes”) and have it parse those terms out into a search that (a) finds “beef” anywhere and then (b) finds “tomatoes” anywhere, and finally shows both sets of matching records together. You’re right, this is how Google and many other very large scale search engines work.

I remember first encountering this sort of thing in Lexus legal database searching eons ago, but back then you’d also have to use codes to look for keywords within so many words of one another (e.g. "find the words ‘parental’ and ‘rights’ within 5 words of one another).

Now this isn’t impossible, in fact, it’s not even that difficult. If Airtable implemented regex/grep searching, for example, you could do this and a whole lot more. That might be cool for people like me who own multiple editions of Jeffrey Friedl’s book on Regular Expressions, but I will tell you as a developer myself that I don’t think it’s worth the trouble of Airtable’s programmers. Not enough users will want to do this. I think the Airtable developers have other things to do more urgently. You may disagree. It could also be done if you took advantage of Airtable’s API and programmed a routine (say, in Javascript) that could do it. I’ve done it in FileMaker Pro. But it’s a little more work and as I said, I don’t think that many other users would take advantage of it.

DO keep in mind that you can get yourself part of the way to what you want by creating a formula field that concatenates several fields, and then defining a *this-OR-that" filter upon that field.

It’s NOT what you want, I understand. You want a super easy fuzzy search. But keep in mind that giving you exactly what you’ve described would either mean adding a new search method, or more likely, would require all of us who like the way things work now to start having to put quotation marks around our search strings — just as you have to do when defining a normal Google search. It works in Google because Google is searching a gazillion different databases each of which has its own idiosyncratic structure. But in Airtable (or FileMaker or Access or whatever) you’re searching a database whose structure is presumably pretty familiar with you.

And I’d gripe if I had to type quotes around my frequent string searches.

Best wishes,


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Hey Will,

I find it a shame you are constantly going back to this access and filemaker crap as some sort of standard. I spent hours participating in the forums and populating my base after reading an inspiring article by Howie. I thought Airtable was trying to create something more than what developers will be familiar with, and people in the database know can feel ultra familiar with. “You want a super easy fuzzy search” and I ask you, which onboarding user would not want the same from a magnifying glass? They want what search bars do. Not what this complicated explanation of why it searches just a string within a column does. (

Databases, on the other hand, were for everything organization-related – a pet fish distributor’s shipment list or a ballet troupe’s subscriber mailings, for example.

Unfortunately, databases were never quite as easy to use as word processors or spreadsheets.

For instance, dBase required the user to design a database in code with a domain-specific language; even later programs such as Access, FileMaker, FoxPro, and Lotus Approach required users to learn a confusing schema designer interface.

For the sake of convenience, but at the cost of real data structure, ordinary users began using spreadsheets as makeshift databases.

The solution: A real database with spreadsheet simplicity

What users really need is a product that combines the fast and flexible aspects of a spreadsheet’s interface with the structure of a true relational database. By focusing on organizational use cases, this lightweight database would not compromise design elegance for the sake of number-crunching capabilities.

This is easier said than done, however. Core database concepts such as multiple views, many-to-many relationships, and forms need to be made accessible in a reimagined design that feels immediately intuitive to users.

Our design and engineering team iterated upon its interface design until it was as intuitive as possible for the user. We are the originators of this emerging category, and we hope others will join us in bringing more powerful but intuitive tools to the mainstream user. Spreadsheet or database? It doesn’t have to be a choice, and it certainly shouldn’t feel like a battle.

So I ask:
Are you developing for the petfish distributor?
For the ballet troupe?
For me?
Or was Howie wrong and his vision failed?
Is this simply for devs and DB pros?

I am simply the immediately intuitive champion.

Thank you for your time Will. I am sorry we do not see the search bar the same way and it is not worth your time.

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I’m afraid that we hijacked this thread — and we’ve probably exhausted the subject. Just for the sake of clarity as we wrap it up:

• Sorry if I wasn’t clear about this: I never meant to refer to Access or FileMaker as standards. They certainly are NOT — any more than Airtable is. They’re simply points of comparison — and have the benefit of being very widely used by the kind of people who might also be interested in Airtable.

• I didn’t say that making Airtable’s search work like Google’s was or would be a waste of my time — or anybody’s, for that matter. I simply tried to say that the Airtable developers have a lot on their plate and I doubt this is a priority for them. There are 100 things I’d like to see Airtable do differently, or better, or things I’d like to see it do that it doesn’t do at all presently. But I understand that I may have to wait for my wishes to be fulfilled.

Be happy to pursue this off the list if you’d like to email me directly. Cheers!

wp at


You are correct.
I apologize to the community for hijacking the thread.

I further apologize to you, Will, for being a raging idealist. I am a technically trained serviceman, who is currently employed as a maintenance guy with a myriad of assets that require on going responsibilities. I have a fuel inside of me to get all the scattered and tacit knowledge shoved into a database so I can have more time to spend on projects I enjoy. I like tinkering with prototyping 3D printed parts as potential improvement upon some of the dated equipment and repair protocols I am responsible for. I want this database stuff to be so much easier for a guy that hasn’t touched coding or taken a software class since high school.

I appreciate your time, your input, and sharing your lens of being a developer. It is easy for an end user to simply overlook the real world demands toward implementations and features being prioritized and juggled.