The Airtable Community Change Maker Spotlights are a new ongoing series where we will be highlighting inspirational creators across the Airtable Community. We are thrilled to be able to highlight Chris Huey!
LM: How would you describe yourself on the back of your autobiography?
CH: Chris is a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) specialist with 10 years of development experience, specifically in youth development and human rights advocacy. He has a strong background in technology and information management systems and is particularly interested in the nexus between technology and MEL as a way to improve the efficiency and accuracy of data management for the purpose of making good data accessible to those who can learn from it. He has a master’s degree in international development from the University of Denver and is a proud returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Peru 2010-2012).
LM: How do you use Airtable? At work? At home?
CH: I began using Airtable on iOS for personal asset management (i.e. more expensive items and related paperwork such as receipts, leases, and warranties). I then began using it for managing and connecting the various trackers for my team at work. I now lead the effort to set up Airtable as the database to store and query performance data for approximately 15 international development projects worldwide. This includes training the staff of those projects to manage each Airtable workspace on their own.
LM: What is your favorite Airtable feature?
CH: If I had to choose just one favorite “feature”, I would have to say it is the no-code simple-to-use interface that makes building a relational database accessible to literally anyone. The grid view is close enough to an excel spreadsheet in appearance to make it approachable to everyone. The interface is simple, clean, and only becomes more complex when users are ready for it.
LM: How did you learn how to use Airtable?
CH: I believe I first learned about Airtable, and how to use it from a MacStories in 2016. The article detailed how the author uses Airtable on his phone as a personal database for tracking everything from restaurants to bills. I thought the idea of having a database in my pocket was such a cool idea, I downloaded it and have been hooked ever since.
LM: How did you get into the low-code community?
CH: Airtable was my introduction to the concept back in 2017, but I didn’t know of the term/concept until 2020, as I was learning about no-code website building, etc. I think it is such a cool movement, making powerful application design accessible to anyone willing to tinker.
LM: If someone is looking to start learning Airtable, what resources would you send them?
CH: Easy question, first I send them some YouTube videos from the channel called GAP Consulting. It has easy to understand videos that introduce Airtable but also acts as a great resources for specific use cases and more technical solutions later on, as people become more adept at using Airtable for complex tasks. I also highly recommend the Airtable forums - so many people use Airtable and are active in sharing their challenges and solutions with each other, you can find the answer to nearly any question you have, no matter how obscure.
LM: What is your favorite Airtable project you’ve ever worked on?
CH: I worked with a team to build a series of synced view-only databases, allowing 40+ companies all over the world to log in and view data they submitted to a central project via airtable forms. We also included a cool “landing page” gallery table that presented logged in users with announcements and reports, all managed from the central base.
LM: What is your #1 Airtable product request?
CH: Hard question! The Airtable team has done such an amazing job with adding my biggest wish-list features over the last couple of years (synced bases and new interface features are epic!) but I admit I am one of those hungry users that always want more. The ability to add cross tabular formulas to charts/graphs/tables in interfaces would be cool. Also, higher column and record limits would allow me to have fewer discussions about when to use traditional SQL databases for projects with large datasets.
LM: What is your favorite thing about the Airtable Community?
CH: How active and helpful everyone is! If you have a question, it is either already answered in the forums or you can ask it and have expert advice very quickly. Users are polite, professional, and will ask follow up questions to help you achieve your specific goal.
LM: What advice would you give to new members of the Airtable Community?
CH: The best way to learn Airtable is to just start playing with it. Use an existing template or just start building a table from scratch. As you inevitably run into questions about how to achieve something new, use the forums and YouTube and you’ll soon have a working database to be proud of!
LM: Who in the Airtable Community inspires you and why?
CH: I really am impressed with the consistent and helpful support of general users on the forums. I think they help prop up Airtable as an approachable easy-to-use platform. I also give huge kudos to the Airtable staff I have worked with over the last couple of years (especially as I work more with Airtable Enterprise). Everyone I have worked with is eager to help (even for my free account), knowledgeable, polite, and patient. But what really makes Airtable employees stand out from the crowd is that they seem to genuinely love and use Airtable. I enjoy “geeking out” on calls with Airtable representatives 🙂
LM: What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
CH: I enjoy exploring, both in the city and out of it. That can be bicycling around town or hiking and camping in the mountains. On low-energy days I enjoy cuddling up on the couch with my family and playing video games.
LM: What impact has Airtable had on your workflow? (ex: saving time)
CH: The impact has been immense, as my company has moved to an enterprise account and we are integrating Airtable into all of our global projects. I use it internally for team collaboration and we are playing with ways to share data with colleagues using interfaces and external services like Softr. In some ways, I think my role at work has changed to “that Airtable guy”, and I am happy with that because Airtable is fun to use.
LM: Anything else you’d like to share?
CH: Just that I love getting Airtable newsletters announcing all of the new improvements and features. It’s like a mini-present in my inbox that brightens my day and puts me in the mood to tinker with data.