Use Email to add a record to a base table

I’m very new to AirTable but I have significant experience with all sorts of IT and coding. I have searched both the help and the community and I am surprised this has not come up. I have seen references to using Zapier, etc. but that seems to be a complicated route versus making it a built-in feature.

I would like to be able to create a table that can be used to catch emails sent directly to a specific email address for that table. Obviously, this would require AT to have an email infrastructure that could handle the incoming email, or, as another method, allow the user to create an email box in their own email system (Exchange, O365, Gmail, etc.) which AT would be able to access in order to grab the messages and populate the contents to the table. I would imagine this might be best done using a predefined template that would map to the appropriate email fields (sender/from, subject, body, attachments, cc addresses). This would be very similar to the way Slack, Jira, MS Teams, etc. allow email to be used as an input source for discussions, etc.

I think this would be an excellent feature to include in the paid versions and would extend the functionality. For example, I am in the middle of a website rollout and would like to gather testing feedback from our team. Ideally, I would have testers use a form, but an email would also be an excellent “low friction” way for many of our testers to provide that info.

Obviously, this would require some thought, but I do think it would improve collaboration capabilities. If this is something the AT community/product team has considered, I would love to know your thoughts.

Thanks and thank you for such a great product that is a joy to work with.

All good points, but I would encourage you to take another look at Zapier’s email trigger — it does pretty much everything you desire, it’s easy to implement, and it’s available today.

I’ll admit, it’s taken me a while to come around to embrace current development paradigms. I still have more than a little of the old ‘code-bumming’ mindset — I still have to remind myself at times that code and data don’t both have to fit within a 64kb memory space. :wink: Even when I first started working with Airtable, I’d find myself jumping through hoops to minimize allocated fields or process steps; then one day I realized it just doesn’t matter, anymore: The amount of time it takes to perform a whole raft of comparisons or schlep around bloated objects is noise compared with variations due to network delay or browser latency or one’s OS suddenly deciding it needs to update an antivirus database it updated an hour ago.¹

Hand-in-hand with the focus on UI/UX over elegance — which, I confess, means nothing to users, as long as performance remains acceptable — has come a belief in not reinventing the wheel. Once, even libraries were looked on with suspicion (I remember, more than once, going through code line-by-line to see if I could bum out a few cycles more); now the API is king. On the down side, this is why it’s sometimes hard to find a developer who can write a simple ‘Hello, World!’ webpage that isn’t larger than the Doom executable — but when it’s done well, it allows a team to focus on what they do uniquely while outsourcing the license-plate making to those who find making license plates to be a calling.

Sure, one could create a built-in email handler that was more tightly integrated with Airtable than Zapier can provide — but that would mean doing 100% of the work for — what? — a 5%? 10%? better solution? As much as I hate to say it — and if I was still an IT director needing to deliver ‘3 9s’ availability, it would drive me absolutely bonkers to manage — but there are arguments to be made for such ‘community’ computing…

(But, seriously, look again at Zapier. I think it’s what you’re looking for, if you squint and pretend it’s all part of a single offering…)

  1. OK, not always: I have a base where pasting a value into a field on a single record causes the entire base to be recalculated at least once. With 10,000 records, the delay is annoying. I suspect this is a fringe case, though.

Thanks, I’ll follow your recommendation and see I Zapier will do the trick. I have no problem with the option to string together components that do a part of a process to create a synthetic result. After all, that is the basic principle of of higher level languages, and even most shell coding. So, on one hand learning how to use Zapier will likely be a valuable new tool, it does introduce another link in the chain.