I have an Access database that tracks all the various activities of our Volunteer Fire Department. Everything from emergency calls to training to member information to inventory, etc. I am trying to figure out if I can take that database and go to Airtable. We would like to get away from the desktop, one computer centric vision of database designs.
Does anyone have any experience with this in Airtable? Would you be willing to share your thoughts on how to go about this? I have a lot of experience in relational databases, but Airtable does not really follow that paradigm. I have trouble getting out of that box.
I’ve converted Access databases to Airtable for some clients. How hard it is depends on how large and complex your Access database is. If you always work directly in Tables in Access, converting to Airtable will probably be relatively easy. If you interact with Access primarily through customized forms, it might be very difficult to recreate those workflows.
If you share screen shots of your Access database, we can give a better idea of what would be involved.
Tables: Most of this data can be easily converted from Access to Airtable. However, Airtable handles links between tables differently from Access. You may also need to take into account Airtable’s record count limits.
Forms: Re-creating a custom-built Access form in Airtable would require a Custom Block in Airtable, which is currently in beta. Creating a Custom Block in Airtable is also much more difficult than creating a form in Access.
Reports: You can re-create simple reports in Airtable, but you may find it difficult to re-create some of your reports.
Modules/Macros: You can write code in Airtable using Scripting Block and Custom Blocks. However, there are fewer methods of triggering execution of the code. For example, you cannot have code that runs automatically on startup.
Ongoing Costs: Access and Airtable have very different pricing models. Depending on the features you need and the number of users, your on-going costs for Airtable might be significantly higher than using Access.
Although converting from Access to Airtable requires a different mindset and can have some headaches, Airtable has enormous benefits if your needs have outgrown having a one user at a time on a Windows computer.