Select multiple records and invoke third party API

I’d like to do the following:

  • Allow users to select one or more records in a particular view
  • Click a button, or menu item, or the like – when clicked, Airtable makes a POST request with the selected record data (as JSON) to an API URL that I provide.

The use case is essentially: we keep a table in airtable that tracks membership in a community, and I want to let folks initiate a workflow to onboard new members.

Is this possible?

Yes – with a couple of caveats:

  1. You’ll need to use a SaaS integrator such as Zapier or Integromat.
  2. You will have to use a checkbox field rather than Airtable’s built-in selection checkbox to mark records to send.
  3. You can use either an extension-driven button (like Zapier’s ‘Push’ extension, as described in this post from Airtable’s little-known but often excellent blog) or a URL field configured to message a webhook trigger. The integration service will first issue a search to Airtable to identify the selected records and than send an outgoing [whatever] to the external API, including the retrieved data.
  4. If users are coming from a read-only view, I suspect you’ll have to trigger each record individually, as they won’t be able to make a change to the records to indicate selection.

If you have additional questions, feel free to message or PM me.

Thanks, this is very helpful.

It looks like Zapier’s Push extension is a chrome extension, so everyone who wanted to have the button available would need to install the extension, which is not ideal for my use case. Am I understanding that correctly?

You also mentioned a URL field configured to message a webhook trigger – not sure what you’re referencing here, exactly. Could you say more about that?

Sure. You can create an incoming webhook in Zapier, which is essentially a Zapier.com URL that generates a trigger when it gets hit with an HTML ‘GET’ request — like a browser generates when you click on a URL on a webpage. You can define the webhook in Zapier, which will give you the URL to use. Create a formula field that concatenates the webhook URL and the Airtable record ID. I don’t recall the exact syntax Zapier uses, but your formula would be something like

{Webhook URL}&'record_id'&RECORD_ID()

That will create a clickable URL that will trigger a Zapier webhook and pass it the record ID of the Airtable record that contains the formula field. Click the URL, and a GET request is sent to Zapier, triggering the webhook and passing along the record ID. That’s an example of a one-to-one trigger like I mentioned in Item 4.

If users are coming from a view where they have write capabilities, which means they can check a checkbox, you can bundle the RECORD_ID()s together and send a single webhook that passes multiple IDs to Zapier. (Again, I don’t recall the exact syntax, but Zapier has eye-wateringly beautiful documentation for most of their modules, and the help page for ‘Webhooks by Zapier’ clearly explains how to create a multiple-trigger webhook.) You’ll have to add some complexity to your base:

  1. First, create a linked-record field from each record in your main table to a single record in another table — a step that can also be automated with Zapier. Call the new table [Selections].

  2. Add a checkbox field to your main table called {Select}.

  3. Create a formula field in your main table called {Selected} with the formula IF({Selected},RECORD_ID()) .

  4. Create a rollup field in [Selections] called {Selected Records} that follows the link back to [Main] and rolls up {Selected} with an aggregation formula of something like 'ARRAYJOIN(values).

    Note: The exact configuration of both the {Selected} formula and the {Selected Records} aggregation function will both depend on the precise syntax Zapier uses to send multi-trigger webhooks, so you may need to modify them both. You may wish to use an aggregation formula rather than an ag function in {Selected Records} that creates the actual webhook, specifying something like 'http://[ZapierURL]/?'&ARRAYJOIN(values,'&') — but, again, this is entirely dependent on the necessary syntax. You may find it easier to aggregate the record IDs as a rollup field and then build the webhook URL using a formula field. In any case, what you should have when you finish is the properly formatted URL with the aggregated record IDs appended as a search parameter (that is, the part of the URL including ’?' and everything that follows).

  5. Finally, create a lookup field in [Main] that follows the link to [Selections] and looks up {Selected Records}; call it {Webhook}.

To use this multi-trigger webhook, first select all records you wish to send by checking the {Selected} checkbox. This will result in every record in the base containing a copy of the multi-trigger URL in {Webhook}. Clicking on the URL in any record will issue a Zapier trigger for each and every Airtable record selected.

I hope that’s reasonably clear. (It probably would have taken me less time simply to look up the freaking syntax for a multi-trigger webhook than it did to type that caveat about ‘proper syntax’ a half-dozen times, but by the time I realized that, it was too late. :wink: )