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Re: Airtable as a webapp backend. Bad idea?

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HostKeep_SysAdm
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

I’ve done something and it might not have been that smart. I’ve built a webapp using Airtable as the backend.

It’s a PHP app, using Angular, and so far it has mostly been working. Nothing super complex, just a customer engagement forum with the usual registration, access management, profile, and then some document management stuff (file / image upload), and a little calendar tool.

I have limited coding ability, so have been working with a pretty good development shop in Vietnam, who have hacked the app together using the Airtable API.

Everything has been working OK, and using Airtable has certainly supported me as a non-technical user in creating the table structure I want, but I’m starting to see some cracks appear. We hit the 100 record API limit last week, which caused some disruption, and I feel performance could be snappier.

Currently we only have a few dozen users on the system, but I hope to scale this to a few hundred over time. My question is, will Airtable be able to scale with me, or do I need to start thinking about a more long-term platform like Firebase?

3 Replies 3

I thought about a similar thing - but relying on someone else APIs is very risky, unless Airtable officially support this use case and ensure stability and scalability I wouldn’t do it…

We have built Softr.io , which allows building powerful websites & web-apps using Airtable as a database, without any code! :grinning_face_with_big_eyes:

We do also have implemented a workaround for the API limit, so our users don’t have any issues on the frontend side.

Feel free to check it out, it’s free - https://www.softr.io

If you want to turn Airtable into a real backend for your webapp, what you can do is set up a real backend database (postgres, firebase, mongo, snowflake, etc.) and turn Airtable into the UI for your database. Basically you can continue to use Airtable as the database but under the hood will be a real database. Every change in Airtable will be reflected in your database and vice versa. Supabase (which has postgres under the hood) is a pretty easy one to get set up.

You can achieve this with Bracket. You just have to input your Airtable API key and connect it to your database. There's also features that you can customize. If you only want to sync certain fields in two directions and make other fields read-only in Airtable, or if you want to write queries to make the data you pull into Airtable very customizable, then that's all possible!