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An Improved App Building Experience

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Kelly_OShaughne
Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

Hi all! I’m Kelly - a product lead at Airtable focused on helping users create and drive adoption of powerful and easy to use apps. I’m excited to introduce a bundle of new Interface features that make building and collaborating with Airtable faster and more seamless. 

Updates available today: 

We’re rolling these updates out over the course of the day; if you don’t see them reflected in your workspace, hold tight! You should see them updated by the end of the day.

Streamlined Customization

We have revamped the Interface Designer experience by reducing the number of clicks it takes to take common actions, modernizing our visual design, and making it easier to find element configurations and navigate between Pages. Specifically, we have:

img1_left.jpg

  • Separated navigation from page properties by moving app navigation to a left pane in Interface Designer, leaving the right pane solely focused on customizing page properties so you can always find your way around the builder experience.

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  • Redesigned the properties panel by updating how configurations are grouped together so it’s more intuitive to find settings.

  • Now allow for direct manipulation of on-canvas elements such as adding or hiding fields to reduce the time it takes to configure and update your interfaces. Instead of trying to remember where a certain configuration option is in the properties panel, now you simply have to select the element on-canvas that you want to change, and the associated properties will populate on the right pane.

 

Form Improvements

Forms are an important way to collaborate and a much loved Airtable feature, so we’ve made some exciting investments to improve the building and sharing experience.

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  • Now you can create externally shared forms directly in Interface Designer, removing the need to switch back to the data tab to create a form view while managing the rest of your app in the Interfaces tab. 
  • We also launched an updated Interface Forms Layout that bakes in builder best practices to the page so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you need to build a new form. This layout also benefits from all the streamlined customization work called out in the first section above!

 

Straightforward Sharing

Ever wanted to share an app with your whole organization? Maybe you’re building out a company directory, OKR tracker, or team planning workflow you don’t mind, or even want to encourage everyone at your company to utilize. Well, now you can do just that with the click of a button!

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  • With company-wide sharing, you can grant general access to one or more Interfaces to everyone at your company, as defined through the admin panel.

 

Coming soon:

  • Interface form validation
  • Conditional logic on record detail & form layouts
  • Dashboard layout & improved charting
  • Resource allocation module
  • Task management improvements
  • Request to edit an Interface 
  • Interface support for Android
  • Pivot Table element

Learn more about these updates and what Interfaces can do for you and your team in our blog post.

Additional resources:

We can’t wait to hear what you think, and see what you build, with these updates!

16 Comments
kuovonne
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Cool! Thanks for the hard work.

Moving the list of pages to the left side makes a lot of sense. I like that and look forward to seeing it.

I'm excited about the ability to have conditional groups in record details and forms. I'm guessing that it will only be available on the new record details pages with their limited design choices. I haven't moved to them yet, but this might push me in that direction. Will the conditions be able to be set based on a formula result?

Can I submit a request? When editing an interface, I have often accidentally changed data, especially accidentally creating new records or new linked records. When editing an interface, would it be possible to prevent actually editing the data? Maybe limit editing data to when in preview mode?

Kelly_OShaughne
Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

Thanks @kuovonne!

Glad you like the move of the page list - note you can also minimize this if you want more screen space in Interface Designer. 

re: conditional groups - yes this will only be available in the new record details and forms layouts. With respect to conditions being set based on formulas - could you share a use case you have in mind on what you want to happen? We are scoping out the work now so any details you have in mind are helpful!

Consider the request submitted! I've shared it with the team and we'll be keeping an eye out for similar feedback from other customers to inform our roadmap. 

Drew_Nemer
7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

I can't wait for 

  • Conditional logic on record detail & form layouts

If that means that record details could show different fields (or allow for editing) based on set conditions, that would be great for task management.  Such as projects that involve different steps, and you want certain fields to be completed before employees move on.  

Also it would help with the record detail views becoming too crowded.  Which is why I hope pagination or slides in record views could come about. 

I would love:

- Pagenation for record details

- conditional (visible) fields based on conditions in record details;

- floating headers and/or more dynamic headers for record details where you can store important details beyond just one field

- Ability to assign specific color selection charts.  It is frustrating when I cannot purposely select the colors I want.  

- CSV download button.

 

As for non-Interface specific items that I would love:

- An improved formula validation/error indication.  When writing and editing formulas, the explanation and instance of where there is an error in the formula is not very clear.  It would help if AirTable would simply use AI or some more visually direct way to just tell me that I am missing a parenthesis or something.  

- improved formula writing box: sometimes AirTable is pretty buggy when I want to expand the window of the formula editing box. Sometimes you expand the box and it snaps back.  It would be nice for the option that formulas can be edited in a full side or bottom view with more space and more tools to help build the formula--like drag and drop fields.  this would be especially helpful when writing formulas that are based on the selections of single select or multi-select fields, and you have to write in the selection conditions, instead of just having the formula be aware of the selection conditions available for the field you are working with.   Also, a preview window.  

- email validation fields for forms:  When clients sometimes fill out forms, the Email Address field doesn't actually make sure that they are writing in a proper email address which causes a lot of automation errors for submission responses.  It would be great if the email address field actually validated if there is an "@" or a proper ".com" or ".org" and no unacceptable characters. 

- Address validation fields: I often see e-commerce have the capacity to validate addresses when going through a checkout.  I would love that option in form submissions.  

Kamille_Parks
16 - Uranus
16 - Uranus

@Kelly_OShaughne Overall these are nice updates. I, too, am looking forward to conditional groups

Bug: You can add buttons to linked record views on detail pages, but they dont have the Apperance options so you're stuck with gray and cant control the "color after" or "label after" properties.

Request: I would love to use a button on linked record views to bulk update them, or trigger an automation for all of them.

Request: Interface forms cant redirect users like form views can. We won't be able to transition to them until redirects are enabled.

Request: When conditional groups are added, I would like to say "this group is editable if..." in addition to "this group is visible if...". Conditions for both should also be able to handle *just* looking at the logged in user and not specific record data. For instance, sometimes the condition is "Logged in user email is 'x@x.com'", not "Logged in user is tagged in the collaborator field"

kuovonne
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

@Kelly_OShaughne 

With respect to conditions being set based on formulas - could you share a use case you have in mind on what you want to happen?

We have a workflow where different fields in a record need to be filled out under different circumstances. Some of the circumstances are based on the lifecycle of the record as represented by a single-select field. However, other fields apply only under more complex situations that are best calculated from a combination of other fields. For example, have a {special handling info} section appear (and be required) when there are a lot of line items, or the calculated total is more than a threshold amount. 

Some conditions could be managed using a combination of conditions of editable fields. However, other conditions require knowing the result of a calculation. 

I also tend to use formula fields for validation, and would like to be able to leverage those same formula fields in multiple places: shown in interfaces, conditions in automation, and ideally whether or not a form could be submitted.

alphakaze
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Can't wait for interface form validation and Android support! I'm currently forced to pay for third-party software like Fillout and Softr in order to overcome those shortcomings, and it's clunky having to manage a web of software tools. Really hope those get released soon 🙏

Drew_Nemer
7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

 

I absolutely agree with what @kuovonne described.  

@Kelly_OShaughne, I would like to add some more points as well.  Provide some use case examples for my company.

We use AirTable as a tracking tool for tracking the onboarding and eligibility screening of new participants for our subsidized voucher program.  Staff complete the tracking tool for each record (which stands in for each participant) to move through the process of screening them in various different capacities.  I use formulas and automations to update a Single Select field, called PHASE, as a stand-in for an applicant is position in the process.

However, this involves using many different fields (date of eligibility briefing, briefing attendance, number of household members, any children under age of 6, disability status, income level, immigration status, application completion, CORI/SORI statuses, etc).  

In the interface, these fields are all expressed in the record details, but there are many, and to prevent our staff from potentially skipping steps, I employ a formula that basically highlights the NEEDS, what specific fields still need to be completed or marked in a manner that we accept as conditionally approved to move on to the next status.  This is a complicated formula that evaluates overall completion and writes out what fields are empty/need attention at different project stages.  Sometimes I even use automations with formulas to restrict undesirable responses to fields-based relations to other field inputs.

 

Example of a record detail in the interface showing the automated updating single select (PHASE) field and the formula field (NEEDS) explaining what steps are missing and fields that need to be addressed.Example of a record detail in the interface showing the automated updating single select (PHASE) field and the formula field (NEEDS) explaining what steps are missing and fields that need to be addressed.

 

 

 

 

Conditional fields will allow for a dynamic setting where the outcome of certain field selections would prompt staff to complete other relevant adjacent fields.  For instance, we have a field that is called "PENDING DOCS & VERIFICATIONS" which is a stand-in for what specific items are we still waiting on from the applicant.  Applicants have three chances to provide the needed items, marked by three different date fields standing for each attempt we pursued to get these documents--date field is the date the request letter is sent.  However, I would like it where the staff person cannot input a second or third request date if the PENDING DOCS & VERIFICATION fields is empty. We want staff to input what they are waiting for in PENDING DOCS & VERIFICATION so we know what we are waiting on and why are we sending another request to the applicant.  

A second example would be for our company's leasing up process.   This also incorporates dozens of different fields.  The government rules and regulations require that a voucher be issued to the participant before processing a new unit application. 

Ex: I would like it so the fields and steps related to processing a new unit application will be restricted for editing unless the voucher issued field are completed first.  This is all in our record detail page in the interface.  

In this screenshot the user did not mark that they issued a voucher (green outline), but they did mark that they went ahead and scheduled and inspection, which is premature.In this screenshot the user did not mark that they issued a voucher (green outline), but they did mark that they went ahead and scheduled and inspection, which is premature.

In this screenshot the user did not mark that they issued a voucher (green outline), but they did mark that they went ahead and scheduled and inspection, which is premature.  

 

It is all about trying to prevent user error in processing the actions through AirTable. 

Ex: We shouldn't schedule a unit inspection unless the user has confirmed the year the unit was built. 

Drew_Nemer_6-1699651568995.png

 

Ex: If there are children under the age of 6, federal law dictates we must have a Lead Notice on file--staff should not be able to continue the process of entering data in AirTable unless if the Lead Notice has been resolved through a checkbox of receipt.  

Ex: child under 18 should not be asked for proof of photo ID).   

This is a minor, I would not like these circled fields to be visible in the process, only conditionally visible if the person is 18 and older.This is a minor, I would not like these circled fields to be visible in the process, only conditionally visible if the person is 18 and older.

 

 

 

All this exists for the form completion for adding new records, it would be fantastic if it existed as a tool to direct what fields should or shouldn't be filled out at what stage/time in the project.   Even just the ability to visually mark fields that need attention would be huge. 

Kelly_OShaughne
Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

Hey @Kamille_Parks - thanks for your notes!

 >Bug: You can add buttons to linked record views on detail pages, but they dont have the Apperance options so you're stuck with gray and cant control the "color after" or "label after" properties.

>Request: I would love to use a button on linked record views to bulk update them, or trigger an automation for all of them.

>Request: When conditional groups are added, I would like to say "this group is editable if..." in addition to "this group is visible if...". Conditions for both should also be able to handle *just* looking at the logged in user and not specific record data. For instance, sometimes the condition is "Logged in user email is 'x@x.com'", not "Logged in user is tagged in the collaborator field"

^ I will share these with the team, thanks!

> Request: Interface forms cant redirect users like form views can. We won't be able to transition to them until redirects are enabled.

Good catch! This is launching as a fast follow in the coming weeks, keep an eye out for it!

 

Kelly_OShaughne
Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

@Drew_Nemer - appreciate you walking through your use case! It's incredibly helpful to understand the granular details of workflows to ensure we build a solution that actually addresses customer needs. We're currently in development on this functionality, so I will share this use case with the team as input to our approach.

Drew_Nemer
7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Hi @Kelly_OShaughne

 

I am more than happy to provide as much case details as you need. Feel free to let your development team know that they can reach out to me directly if they wish to learn more about our use cases and workflows.

I am very happy to learn that there is development progress on these matters