How will Custom Blocks behave in Airtable Universe?

Topic Labels: Custom Extensions
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When Custom Blocks go live, if I were to design a base that is deeply integrated with a Custom Block (to basically create a mini application within Airtable), and add that base to Airtable Universe, when people copy that base to their workspace, would the Custom Block go with the base? Would it work seamlessly as Airtable’s blocks do? Would it receive updates if I update the source code of the block and re-release the base to the Universe?

I guess I’m also just wondering how exactly these Custom Blocks will work in terms of an “open marketplace” for these things. If Airtable chooses to remain entirely hands off in allowing the free exchange of Custom Blocks via public GitHub repo’s, I can see the environment quickly devolving into a mess of poorly maintained, or unmaintained Blocks roaming around in the wild, perhaps lingering on aggregation lists/sites for years after they have gone defunct, and making it difficult for consumers to know, when they go to install a Custom Block, whether they are getting a good one.

Does Airtable plan to do any curation, and maintain a trusted marketplace of Custom Blocks that meet curation standards? Or are we destined for the wild west of open source Blocks, caveat emptor, and “you get what you pay for”?

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This situation already exists with the standard REST API and Scripting block. There is code for both in the wild, in both public and private git repositories.

The difficulty in deciding whether or not to use a particular app/code will always have to remain a personal one to some extent. Code providers will have to build up their brands just like code providers have to on other app platforms. For example, even though every iOS app has to get approved to be in Apple’s App Store, there are plenty of bad apps on the store.

7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Hi Jeremy,

Great question. Really excited to hear the community thinking deeply about the connection between Airtable base architecture and a custom block.

At present, custom blocks are not usable in shares and aren’t copied over when a base is cloned. We recommend that you include the link to the GitHub repo in the description of your Airtable Universe submission or in a description block in the base. This way the user can use the “Remix from GitHub” feature to pull in the latest version of the block. I recognize this can be a little tricky for some users, so we’re working on making this easier for non-developers to install open source blocks.

To your question about curation, this is something we’ve begun to explore and are looking to expand this to our wider community. I encourage you to submit any open source blocks to the ongoing Airtable blocks contest (submit by July 6th). We’ll be actively reach out to developers - whether they win in their category or not - if we see an opportunity to list their blocks in the gallery. You can use the existing blocks as a guide to the user experience and design standard that we’ll be looking for.