We are experimenting with Airtable as a project management tool for our Graphic Design Firm. Working well so far, until we get to expense tracking. It’s easy enough to create a table to track individual expenses and link them to any open job in our “jobs” table, but when it comes to billing, we need a single document that captures ALL the expenses related to a job and presents them together in a report much like the attached “Cost Sheet”, which we currently produce manually for each job in Excel.
Here’s what we need. I’d like to automate the Cost Sheet data entry process so that, at a push of a button, any member of my team can generate a pdf with this same info, and with data pulled from Airtable records. All the user would have to do is select a “job” and all expense records linked to that job would be gathered up and processed. Each expense record would be listed as a row in the table (like the highlighted rows shown in the example). In addition, header info (like that shown in rows 1-3) would need to be pulled from the records, and simple calculations (like those shown at the bottom of the sheet) would need to be performed.
Is this possible? Is there another tool that already does this?
Javier, we’ve put our particular project on indefinite hold. But before that happened, I had a chance to talk to Chester. My understanding is that AirPress and Tablepress don’t work well together. Chester has built some custom plugins (for his clients) that allow you to use specific features from DataTables to display and/or interact with data from AirTable, on a Wordpress page. Once that’s done, styling is as simple as writing CSS. But given the number of variables, I don’t think there’s an out-of-the-box solution available. Someone would have to build the plugin from scratch (Chester, or you, or another programmer). I don’t think any of it is super-difficult, but definitely requires a fair understanding of PHP, the Airtable API, and Wordpress (or whatever platform you’re building on).
This would be a nice-to-have. In the mean time my workaround is to use the Airtable API to pull the records, populating them in an HTML template, and then generating the PDF with https://www.api2pdf.com. Works fine, but you have to have some basic coding knowledge in order to do it.
I agree with BeninDallas and Alexandre_Co. It is astonishing to me that there is no way to get a report out of Airtable. This should have been a feature included in version 1.0. My base is for people doing research. It is easy for me to put data in, very difficult for researchers to get data out. I don’t want them to see or have access to the entire base, or even one table at a time. They need to ask a question – filters work – and get information and print it out in a report. That is not yet possible.
I use https://www.reportbin.com/, it’s pretty flexible since you can design the reports using HTML. The downside is you do have to know HTML, though they have an offer to do that for a fee. The interface is pretty basic, but you should be fine with some basic understanding of Airtable to fill in the infor they need.
Hey thanks for the mention Patrick. I’m Sam from ReportBin, we’re still working on the interface, so expect it to be better with time. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any help.
@all: contact me and mention you’re from Airtable Community, I’ll work with you to design your reports for free in exchange for feedback :slightly_smiling_face:
@SDOK_Blog : It’s pretty easy to integrate AT and Google Sheets through Zapier. The problem is that the AT API does not support an “updated record” event, so Zapier will only sync NEW records between the two platforms. This is useless to me, since the whole point of a project status report is to get the LATEST “status” (that is, updated field data) of an EXISTING “project” (aka, record). Do you have a solution for this?
Try using Integromat instead - you can use a timed ‘Scenario’ to search for all records and then loop though them updating as you go. It’s not realtime but…
You could also look at my recent blog posts about creating PDF from a database using Integromat:
(Note - I use a different database in this example but the principle is the same)
Hope this helps
A possible solution would be to use the AT API to update records and trigger report generation. You can easily do that with https://www.formnano.com/, just create forms to edit existing records and add Zapier integration. Contact me if you need help setting it up.
Disclosure: I built both FormNano and ReportBin
It’s sad that after two and a half years and $170M raised by Airtable that you cannot easily export multiple records into custom designed excel or PDF layouts (for invoicing/billing, or sharing with other firms that don’t use Airtable). The Page Designer block is a good start, but not sufficient. Sadly we’ll have to stick with error-prone excel for our accounting needs.
I am really loving Airtable, so hopefully this type of feature or block gets added!
A quick workaround is a linked grouping - in my business case I call them applications - that touch related tables. You can then choose which linked records display via table in the page designer, which in my case solves the need. You could just call the table Print Record with an auto counter for reference and it will get the job done.
Just following up on this thread in November 2023.
Unfortunately, Airtable's Page Designer is still extremely limited. For example, it can't effectively print documents that are more than one page long. And quite possibly its biggest limitation is that it can't be automated in any way.
However, there are lots of great ways to automatically generate PDF reports out of Airtable, but they require using external tools.
So the best way to automatically create PDF reports & PDF files with Airtable is to turn to an external document creation app.
Here are a few options:
2. Another popular tool is Docs Automator, which integrates with Google Docs.
3. However, you can choose ANY document creation app that you would like, and automate the PDF creation process by using Make. You can use good old fashioned Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, or even newer apps like Formstack Documents, PDF Monkey, DataBox, Tableau, or more.
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 there as well.
p.s. If you have a budget for your project and you’d like to hire an expert Airtable consultant to help you with any of this, please feel free to contact me through my website: Airtable consulting — ScottWorld