FileMaker is a good example of a program that allows you to turn any field — or any other element on your entire screen — into a button. And you can draw your own graphical buttons completely freeform anywhere you want on the screen.
But — here’s the thing — FileMaker gives full 100% design control to the user, which Airtable doesn’t allow. So I think it kind of makes sense for Airtable to have a “button field”. Even though a button is technically NOT a field, it sort of makes sense within the “design constraints” of what we’re allowed to do in Airtable.
You are right, Bill — a button is technically “added functionality”, not an “additional field”. But I think it’s okay within the design constraints of Airtable.
It’s kind of their own unique twist on things, actually. Airtable does get a little “flexible” with their terminology & functionality from time-to-time, but I’m okay with it because they’ve got their own way of doing things that make sense once we get used to it. They’re sort of reinventing things with their own unique spin.
With the new button field, I don’t really see this as a downside. It fits nicely into what we’re already allowed to customize in Airtable. I bet at some point in the future, they’ll give us new “interface layers” & “design layers” that we can work with, but for now, adding buttons into fields seems to work quite nicely.
I’m really super-excited to see how the button field evolves in the future, and I don’t really see any downsides here.
But sometimes, Airtable’s little unique twists DO come with a few downsides. For example, Airtable Support told me that they consider “creating new fields” and “deleting fields” as part of “data entry”, which of course is not technically correct. Creating new fields & deleting fields is part of the structure of a database… that’s not part of the data entry of a database.
So this is why even after you “lock” a view in Airtable, any collaborator can continue adding brand new fields onto your “locked” view. (Similarly, editors can completely delete fields from your entire base — right from a locked view!)
So locked views are not truly “locked”.
To me, this is a downside, because any collaborator can completely modify the “locked” view by creating new fields right on the locked view itself. (And any editor can also remove fields from the “locked” view by deleting fields — directly from the locked view itself.)
But overall, I’m just thrilled to see so many improvements & new features & new functionality in Airtable! Especially all the major improvements in just the last few months! I’m also thrilled that Airtable employees are engaging with us so much here in the community forums.
Overall, I’m just so thrilled about Airtable as a platform for the future. I love the direction that the platform is moving in!