Teaching formulas

Hey guys,

I don’t know if this is a strange request but I hope you can help me with it.

I dived into Airtable for the past months. I really love it and I’m working almost on a daily base on my Airtable base. Now I have set up a quite complex base for my company but I’m lacking of a deeper understanding of formulas. I did a quite complete course and read through everything I could find on the Airtable web itself, but I still feel as lost with formulas as with math at school :sweat_smile:

I really want to understand how to build formulas and solve the problems and hurdles I have in my base. Therefore I’m looking for a teacher that goes through my Airtable with me and explains me with the given examples how to create different formulas. Of course I will pay for it. If somebody is interested, please let me know,

Thanks in advance.

Best,
Mad

Awesome. I love Airtable too and also use it on a daily basis.

What course did you take?

That’s an impressive achievement! There is a wealth of information on the support site, and content is being constantly generated and updated. How did you decide what order to go in, and what order would you recommend? What parts of the support website did you find most useful?


There are some consultants who provide hourly consulting. You might try posting on the “hire a consultant” section.

While I wish that I could make a course about Airtable formulas, I just don’t have the time or resources.

Meanwhile, here some tips:

  • Understand the data type that each field type uses for formulas: text, number, date, array. Note that the data type for a field varies depending on context. Single-selects are treated as text in formulas, but are objects in scripting. There are hints as to data type by looking at a cell value (text is left aligned and numbers are right aligned), but you cannot tell the difference between some data types just by looking at cell values. Also, learn how to convert from one data type to another.

  • Read the Formula Field Reference and refer back to it when you have a question about a particular function. This is the vocabulary of formulas, and the more vocabulary that you have memorized, the easier it is to find the right words to say what you want. Know the data type of each input parameter and the data type of the output.

  • Understand the grammar of formulas. No space between a function name and its open parenthesis. Commas between parameters.No trailing comma after the last parameter. The importance of straight quotes around hardcoded text.

  • Understand how to nest one formula inside another. Knowing data types (of both inputs and outputs) and where to put the commas is essential for this. Use a multi-line style of writing formulas to make nesting clear.

  • Understand “truthy” and “falsy” values for IF() conditions. The number zero, empty strings, BLANK(), FALSE(), ERROR() are all falsy.

  • Know if you are working with an array or not. Often lookups are arrays. Arrays often behave in unexpected ways in formulas.

  • There is no one way to do things in code, but some ways are better than others. Feature of a good formula include producing correct results, being easy to understand, and avoiding excessive calculations.

  • Even though formulas are code, there is no explicit support for comments or for assigning values to variables.

On the more practical side …

  • Keep writing formulas. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
  • Test your formulas as much as possible. Test typical cases. Test edge cases. Test blank values. Test error conditions.
  • Work to understand every word and piece of punctuation in a formula.
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Ditto to everything that @kuovonne said! :+1:

A little less than a year ago I was pretty deep into creating material for a course all about Airtable formulas, but then I was hired full-time by my longest-running client. I was already struggling to make progress on the course, and suddenly I found myself with even less energy to devote to side projects (and I have a massive list of them!). On top of that, Airtable overhauled the formula field editor, meaning that all of the screen captures for the course were outdated and needed to be redone. I’ve considered reworking everything and just posting it to YouTube, but that’s been no easier to do than the course was. In the end, it’s still on my list, but there’s no telling when that (or anything else on the project list) will be complete.

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