Re: Throttling API Calls for Email Automation?

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4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Our team uses Airtable to keep track of customer orders, and we’d like an automation that sends an email to the customer when our Airtable users make record edits that trigger certain events to happen (order placed, order confirmed, order out for delivery, order delivered, etc.). We want our emails to be HTML-formatted, so instaed of Airtable Automations, we are still using Zapier or Integromat, which trigger when the an order record enters a certain View. We are thus concerned about the Airtable API rate limit (5 requests per second) because we want to avoid a 429 error at all costs.

Our questions are:

  1. Do services like Zapier and Integromat throttle Airtable API requests by default? If we were to say bulk-approve 100 or so orders on Airtable, will these services naturally throttle the emails to fit Airtable’s API rate limits as long as we are still within the Zap/Operation limits of Zapier/Integromat?

  2. In the API documentation, the API team recommends using a “caching proxy.” What is a caching proxy and is it applicable in our situation? (I’m from the product side actually, so I’m not familiar with this concept).

  3. I saw a post about Integromat’s Sleep tool being used to get around Webflow’s API limit (60/minute) – will Integromat’s Sleep Tool also work for Airtable’s API rate limit?

  4. If we were to settle for Markdown-based emails, is there throttling on Airtable Automations by default? Or is there also a hard limit with risk of getting a 429 status code?

  5. Having read about our use case, is there a “best-practice” way or clever workaround anyone can suggest to getting past the Airtable API rate limit?

3 Replies 3

Welcome to the community, @Johnny_Polkadot! :grinning_face_with_big_eyes: I’m not familiar with all the things you’re asking about, but I can do my best on a few of them:

  1. I believe that Zapier and Integromat have their own internal mechanisms for keeping Airtable requests within approved limits. I haven’t been in a position to test this theory, though, so this is pure speculation.
  2. The only limits on automations that I’m aware of are documented in the support system. From what I just witnessed in a quick test, Airtable manages large numbers of simultaneously-triggered automations cleanly. In my test, I created a little over 200 dummy records, and set up an automation that triggers when a single-select field is changed and outputs some text into another field of the same record. I then mass-changed them all using drag-fill. The automation ran on every record, but it took 10-15 seconds for all 200-ish to finish updating. This indicates that automations are probably put into a queue and run at a certain pace to avoid exceeding some internal threshold.
  3. If you prefer HTML emails, you could use a combination of Airtable plus Zapier or Integromat. Create an automation that runs a script to call a zap/scenario webhook to send the email. (NOTE: the example that I just linked is designed for a script in a scripting app, but will work for an automation script with only minor tweaks.)

Hey @Justin_Barrett Thank you for the warm welcome and quick answers!

1 & 5. I also suspect they must have something to address the limits of Airtable. I wonder if anyone else here has any experience “overloading” or testing the limits of their email integrations with Zapier/Integromat? Has anyone gotten a 429 from a bulky zap/operation? :slightly_smiling_face:

  1. Thank you for sharing! So it does seem like there is no rate limit for Automations :thinking: Having said that, Automations would be perfect for us if only it supported HTML-emails :frowning:

What kinds of things would you like to do with HTML? There may be a way to do the same with markdown, although it’ll likely need to involve scripting. I do something like this with a custom messaging system that I built for a class that I teach. I compose my core message body in a long text field with markdown disabled, but I use markdown syntax in the message. When the automation triggers, a script action pulls that text, adds the recipient’s name at the head of the message and a generic “footer” at the end (also using markdown), then creates an output item used in the “Send an email” action, where Airtable processes the markdown before sending. It’s not quite as robust as HTML, and the resulting email still has the Airtable branding, but it works for my use case.