Re: AMA Custom Blocks Contest Edition #4 - Ask You Anything (AYA)

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7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

We’re advancing into the last week of the custom blocks contest (Submission deadline: July 6). This will be our last AMA in this series - with a twist! We’re turning it around to you: Ask You Anything (AYA).

We’d be interested to hear from you about one rose, one bud, and one thorn of your custom blocks beta experience so far. To be more specific:

Rose: Something that delighted you about the platform
Bud: Something new that the custom blocks platform unlocked for you, whether it’s a new workflow or new value in Airtable
Thorn: What is your top feature request or challenge that you ran into?

The thread is open for the next week and the 3 most insightful posts will win a $40 Amazon giftcard. Feel free to keep it under a sentence each. A member of the Airtable platform engineering team will select the winner at the end of day on Thursday (7pm PT).

23 Replies 23
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Rose :
It was very quick to get started and I really liked the quality of the documentation, the readability of the sdk (naming, alternative methods ifExists…) but also that you gave access to some UI components & best practices. I was surprised by the simplicity to build something within few hours/days.

Bud :
Airtable Blocks seems great to introduce workflows that would be otherwise very difficult, and overall it allows us to achieve things that would not be possible otherwise (different display/UI, different field types…).

The SDK has not enough features for field management:

  • It’s not possible to delete a field
  • It’s not possible to rename a field
  • It’s not possible to upload attachments without using a third party
  • … which itself is not easy because it requires an access token, so a backend server, and there is no way to add a backend without having to host it ourself
  • There is no way to create formula fields

Another problem is that there are not enough UI components, it would be great to have access to all the UI components used internally at Airtable. It would also improve the quality/consistency of the blocks.

Thank you for this hackathon, it was fun!

Can you explain why you feel that you need to host a backend server yourself?

Authenticating into a third party service is much easier than setting up your own backend and securing it yourself.

I do agree that the ability to create an attachment from data (versus a url) would be much appreciated.

For services like S3 or cloudinary, if you don’t have a backend, that means you need to give an access token to the frontend (which can be accessed by the user).
What services would you use instead to stay secure?
Restricting the scope of the access token of S3 could be a possibility but it would still allow any upload to a bucket or something similar on cloudinary.

My understanding is that you can get the token from the user and store it in globalConfig for all other users. Other users will be able to use the token without knowing what it is.

It is also possible to upload to Cloudinary without a token.