Introducing Document Automator

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6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

:wave: Hello! I’m Scott – a product manager at Airtable who worked on the development of document automator – the newest way to get Airtable data into formatted documents.

What is document automator?

Available to those on Pro and Enterprise plans, Document automator is a new integration with Google Docs and associated automation action that enables you to export formatted Airtable data directly into Google docs, where you can format and collaborate on that data to your heart’s content.


Furthermore, because document automator is built into automations, you can use other automations like Slack or Email to automatically share the created document with others, fully automating the process of creating and distributing published reports or status updates.



How can I use document automator?

Document automator is perfect for creating point-in-time reports or status updates that can be shared with people who don’t have access to Airtable, when you want to editorialize around the data, or when you want to facilitate feedback and discussion about the data. Common use-cases for document automator include:

  • OKR (objectives and key responsibilities) updates
  • Roadmap updates
  • Campaign performance reports
  • Publishing Retrospectives

What about Interface Designer or Page Designer?

While similar, Interface Designer and Page Designer are meant to accomplish different use cases:

  • Document automator: Point-in-time reports/status updates leveraging Airtable data across multiple records, meant to be communicated to audiences that may/may not live in Airtable (or be close to the work), allowing broad access (ie. Google docs) across the org. This helps with distribution and permissioning issues, as well as facilitating comments and discussions directly on the report.
  • Interface Designer: Live-refreshing dashboards or surfaces for collaboration on live data
  • Page Designer: Visual assets (physical printed page design, mock-ups) based on individual records (like a real estate brief, business card, etc.)

Where can I learn more?

To learn more about how to use document automator, check out the launch blog post, or help center article.

I’ll also be hosting a Community AMA to talk all things content automator on June 29, at 9 am PT where you’ll have the opportunity to see the feature in action and ask any questions you may have. You can register now here, and I can’t wait to see you online.

We can’t wait to see what you create with the document automator and would love to hear your thoughts below.

If you are on a pro or enterprise plan and not seeing these changes reflected in your workspace, try clearing your cache.

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

The “find records” action has a limit of 100 records.

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

So, it’s useless to me. But thank you

7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

We try to stay away from all things Google as much as possible.

We use Documint and are VERY happy with it.

5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

Hi Scott, few years ago I was struggling to create nice looking documents with the Airtable N0-CODE solution templates (i.e Page Designer) and then, decided to take the LOW-CODE approach after reading this very interesting post with very rich and insightful comments inside the post from @Bill.French

The proposed approach is LOW-CODE (Google Apps Script) and provides (I think) the full flexibility and total control on any kind of document creation using any source of data (as long as we can get the data via an API call). You are decoupling the data collection from the data presentation way more clearly, and removing many dependencies.

The Level of effort to get it off the ground is a bit bigger (initial learning curve), however what you get in return is so much more in Flexibility (and total ownership). I followed @Bill.French advices in the post, and learnt the basics of Google Apps Script to generate document using Templates, and after that step … it allowed me to bridge that gap that I could not do with the built-in features of Airtable or any other third party services at the time (3 years ago).

For Airtable users that are not afraid to put a bit of CODE around their Airtable solution, I think looking into Google Apps Script might be a good time investment.

17 - Neptune
17 - Neptune

It certainly has paid big dividends in many Airtable solutions.

As a measure of platform progress, I often look for vendors (like Airtable) who get pretty good at replacing many of the aftermarket solutions and services with native capabilities. This sometimes comes as a surprise to aftermarket developers who believe they just had their lunch taken by a bully. Systems that leverage Google Apps Script seem to be less likely to be replaced in part because these external solutions are largely based upon Google Apps Script building blocks that are quite robust and far too complex to easily replace. From big data to AI, document handling, and findability - Google Cloud Platform brings a vast array of extensibility with relatively little effort and complexity.

9 - Sun
9 - Sun

I am great fan of this too,
and in my Bookmarks Base, it’s linked to:

Triggering Document creation via Code block

Using Google API in scripting block

Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

:wave: Hi! I’m Ayesha, a Product Manager at Airtable. We have a quick update for you on this feature — now you can update an existing Google Doc within this automation.

When you set up your automation, you can now choose to “Update Google Doc”:

You can update the title or content of the document and format what you want to add.
Your content update can be inserted into the top or bottom of the document:

For teams who keep a running document, we hope this update will be useful for your work.
Let us know if you have any questions!

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Thank you for this update! The ability to update an existing doc opens more possibilities. This will help with things like headers/footers and other static elements.

Is there a link to the help docs on how to specify the existing doc?

Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

We’re working on getting our help documentation updated soon!

You can pick any existing document, after you connect your Google Docs account. When you click “+ Select from Google Drive”, you’ll see a window where you can browse your documents:

CleanShot 2022-08-29 at 17.31.31@2x

Hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions!

16 - Uranus
16 - Uranus

Can the existing doc selector be dynamic? For instance, if we have the document ID as a value in an Airtable record’s field, can that be passed to the Automation to indicate which file to update?