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AMA Custom Blocks Contest Edition #1 - Getting Started with the Airtable Product Team (Live on Wednesday 6/10)

Topic Labels: Custom Extensions
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Michelle_Valent
7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Do you have an idea for the Custom Blocks contest but don’t know where to start or which examples are most relevant to your idea? We’re hosting a live Ask Me Anything (AMA) session in this thread on Wednesday (6/10) at 11am PT.

Michelle Valentine and Kasra Kyanzadeh from our product team will be available to answer any questions about getting started and turning your ideas into reality.

The top 3 upvoted questions will win a $40 Amazon gift card. You can even start posting your questions now, and we’ll be answering questions live from 11am - 11:30am PT on Wednesday. See you there!

34 Replies 34

This gets at what I was wondering about – supposing Airtable wants to encourage non-technical users to install Custom Blocks built by the community (clearly I’m making an assumption there), will Airtable facilitate the communication of this kind of thing, so that non-technical users can receive updates for a Custom Block they’ve install without having to provision that themselves, and without Block creators having to manage a flood of email requesting that a Block ID be added to the remote list?

Again, I’m not terribly experienced, so perhaps I’m missing something there… or perhaps my assumption about the degree to which non-technical users will be encouraged to use Custom Blocks is off.

Mingi_Ryu
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Hello Airtable Team,

Thank you for doing the AMA. It’s been a very pleasant dev experience to work with Blocks API and being able to make interesting ideas to come to life.

On of the main thing my Blocks app does is constantly interacting with globalconfig to keep track of records changes. However, I’ve only been using setAsync for simplicity. Can you give an overview of how setPathsAsync function works behind the scene and how much more performant it is for nested objects?

Also, one of the other thing my Blocks app does is aggregating _changeCount values across records. I noticed that it doesn’t actually increment by 1 as it should. What’s happening here? Also, is there a way to get data about specific record history? It seems the data itself is available via “expand record” for the users, but there’s isn’t an API for getting the data.

In this thread you hinted at a developer pricing plan. Can you give any more info? Would pricing be per developer per workspace (versus per user per workspace)? Is this strictly for developing custom blocks (vs. scripting block or using the Standard REST API)?

Right now, Airtable pro features are affordable for individual developers who do not have other users in their workspaces. I hope that you keep custom block development affordable for new and emerging developers.

Michelle_Valent
7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Kasra and I are now live from our respective home offices. Let’s go!!

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I’m aware that OAuth is not possible within iframes as a security measure. But I noticed there are other blocks such as the Miro block which looks like it is achieving OAuth within an iframe.

Hi! OAuth isn’t available in custom blocks right now. The Miro block uses the Miro boards picker (https://developers.miro.com/docs/boards-picker) which doesn’t include OAuth inside the block. To initially authenticate the block, they pop up a new window on Miro.com which can access the user’s Miro cookies. This sends back some tokens to the block, and the block stores the tokens. The tokens are all you need to render the board (i.e. no OAuth process happens within the block itself)

Hi! Right now blocks only run inside the Airtable web app and desktop app. We’re thinking about mobile support for the future.

Hi @Matthew_Thomas!

Excited to hear that we’ve convinced you to give frontend development a try. Personally I find it easier to choose one example to structure a project skeleton around, and then drawing in aspects of other examples where helpful. Our product philosophy with the examples is to have each block focus on doing one thing well, in hopes to be able to draw on them as building blocks in your own project. I also find searching around for similar React projects to plan the skeleton a good way to begin too.

Without knowing which parts of React exactly that you’re struggling with (is it nesting components? Is it re-render? Is it how to flow data between components? Is it something to do with getting Airtable data?), I’d suggest the “Thinking in React” tutorial if you haven’t seen it already. It really helps take you through a process of building in a React-ey way. It also breaks down the process of building a React app into more manageable steps. It focuses first on getting components nested correctly. Then on putting state in the right components, then on passing data correctly. The example code uses React classes, but the techniques can be adapted to use hooks.

Hi @Eric_Ho

Absolutely. We’re actively building more example blocks and should be releasing a few more in the next week or two. Our product philosophy with the examples is to have each block focus on doing one thing well, in hopes to be able to draw on them as building blocks in your own project.

Are there any types of blocks that you’d be most interested in? Or is it more about demonstrating the SDK components that would be helpful?

The installed blocks get updated when you run block release. Pushing to the master branch won’t automatically update installations.

As @Harshit_Juneja mentioned, if you want the same custom block across multiple bases, the best way to do that is to use the remotes feature for now. We’re exploring ways to make this more seamless in the future.

Ashwin_Kumar
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Hi @Michelle_Valentine - I have a business question that could help hone in on the types of blocks to build.

What types of teams are ‘power users’ of Airtable? (Either in terms of activity on Airtable or have the largest amount of users within a team using Airtable).

For example:

  • Do you see generally see many small businesses that use Airtable for one piece of their ‘stack’ (e.g. agencies that use it to track clients and billing).

  • Or for larger customers, do they use it to replace other services (e.g. using Airtable to track product dev tasks instead of doing it in JIRA).

  • On that note, do ‘power users’ benefit from integrating Airtable with other existing services (e.g. pulling in information from Salesforce to enrich a customer base in Airtable)

Any help in identifying the types of teams that fit your ideal customer could help narrow down the use case and approach.

Thanks!