Um, yeah - it is. But first, a little of the backstory.
As is often the case just when you’ve thought you’ve seen it all, a client asks -
Is it possible to chain blocks and run them sequentially - as one completes, the next one starts?
But then she tossed in another requirement -
The computational results from the first block must be available to the next block and sometimes to all subsequent blocks.
Oy! Nothing like a mind-bender for a Monday morning.
This business requirement is daunting – indeed, impossible given the nature of Script Blocks. I’m sure the Airtable folks have pondered this, but as it stands, it’s off the table for now, right? Indeed, Script Blocks are simply not capable … until and unless … you factor in the amazing power of that which Airtable is known and most famous for - simple data/content management with an intimate relationship with integrated script.
Often, it is the alchemy of data and code that spark the most remote possibilities into a new reality.
Simple Workflow Example - a Happiness Survey
Imagine a three-step process asking basic questions about your day. It’s a survey per-se and I’ve embodied the essence of it into a simple table shown below. Each step has a question and a column for answers. Lastly, there’s a final step - Happiness Assessment - that computes your relative happiness based on your answers
The following screenshot shows this three-step process but also displays a very important field showing Block Script in a long text field.
As I mentioned, each step is a question, and each question is presented abstractly in the script using the value in the first column (i.e., Process Step). The final stage in the process is based upon the answers at each step in the survey process.
To do this elegantly and well, chaining together different script blocks is ideal.
Each script in each process is loaded and executed sequentially. A single “runner” Block orchestrates the execution of each data-based block and it manages the in-memory scope of the results from start to finish.
The final step includes the block shown below which displays the resulting happiness assessment. Note the reference to
aRecords - this is the variable that contains all of the answers gathered from each of the chained blocks.
And the outcome in the block runner reveals this display when all four steps have completed.
Block chaining is possible. In and of itself, this is an important realization. While my example is super simple and somewhat lame, imagine the incredible solutions that could be built by chaining block scripts together in easily-managed table data.
As I mentioned, it is also possible to manage, share, and aggregate computational results that occur across multiple block segments.
Tell me - is Block Chaining a thing?
I just got Pro and… it’s so powerful, should have gotten it sooner!
I think this is totally possible with Automations / Webhooks — on each Webhook, the last action you run is a script that could fetch another webhook in another base/table… debugging this thing sounds like a nightmare though.
This could be done with Airtable’s webhooks, but Airtable’s automation webhooks come with their own set of limitations. Even the webhooks API has significant limitations, such as a limit of 10 webhooks per base.
Even though Make is a low-code environment (instead of a scripting environment), this is one of the Top 20 Reasons why I encourage Airtable users to take a look at Make for their automations.
Not only does Make have more advanced webhooks than Airtable with no limitations (along with custom webhook responses and even mailhooks), but blockchaining is possible with Make and reusable “code” is possible in Make.
Make allows you to copy and paste modules from one scenario to another, Make allows you to export and import blueprints for backups or portability to other accounts, and best of all, you can use Make’s own internal meta modules to daisychain scenarios together with custom variables. There are 44 meta modules that let you control Make, including running other scenarios with dynamic variables.
There is a small learning curve with Make, which is why I created this basic navigation video to help. I also provide the links to a few other Make training resources. For example, to instantly trigger your Make scenarios from Airtable, check out this thread.