Is there any plan to encourage developers to build more apps and write more scripts to marketplace? From the conversation I saw in the forum, getting your apps approved is so difficult and long. I feel Airtable now lacks vibrancy and enthusiasm of other tools (monday.com or coda.io).
You are correct that the ecosystem has stagnated. Airtable has taken a very hostile approach against developers, so I doubt that anything will improve on this front until Airtable changes their attitude towards developers. I’m hoping that this situation will improve in the future.
A lot of community development has been put in a really rough position since Airtable changed its pricing plans a while ago.
Pro users went from having unlimited apps, to being restricted to only ten apps.
This naturally wrecked a lot of the incentives of open source development since the only parties that could really utilize and enjoy community development work without worrying about limitations in apps are organizations with enterprise agreements or Pro users that are locked into legacy pricing.
Enterprise platforms, such as Salesforce, have a robust community of developers and admins that are comfortable with building solutions.
Airtable doesn’t have anywhere near that amount of community development happening. Despite the two companies being completely different sizes, the rate of growth in community development for Airtable is enough to warrant concern.
Even though there are some developers that are comfortable with Airtable, the chances that an organization is lucky enough to hold strong adoption of Airtable, have a developer/admin in their product development/IT teams that can support custom solutions or can afford a long-term consultant are quite small.
Yes. There is a plan, or at least a goal. But it is not a short term plan, and it is not currently a priority for Airtable. Airtable is going through a lot of growing pains right now, and this is one aspect of those growing pains.
Right now there is not much incentive to create 3rd party apps in the Marketplace.
new pro workspaces are limited to 10 apps per base (although consultants can help convert you to a legacy pro plan with unlimited apps)
apps currently cannot be used in interfaces
the review process for new Marketplace apps is long and very rigorous.
Marketplace apps must provide some clear value for free
The burden for monetizing apps currently falls completely on the developer
Usage statistics are currently limited to what reporting that the developer explicitly includes in the code for the app.
Scripts have slightly different disincentives for 3rd party developers, even though everyone has unlimited access to scripting.
It is very difficult to protect intellectual property in a script—anyone with a script has full access to the code and an unscrupulous person could redistribute/resell/copy the code.
There is no good way to securely store credentials in a script.
There is no good way to monetize scripts.
On the other hand, scripts and apps can be transformative for organizations that have access to a developer. Many, many scripts are apps are being developed on the Airtable platform, even if they do not make it to the marketplace. And the learning curve for writing scripts and apps is within reach for those who are interested in learning and have the time.
Third party scripts and apps have a place in the Airtable platform, even if they currently do not have as strong a showing in in the marketplace.