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Re: Worried that AirTable is going downhill

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Scott_Gould
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Hi there,

First off please accept this in the spirit of genuine concern and not moaning or such.

AirTable is an important part of my business, and indeed a joyful part of my life as a tool that gives me immense value.

However, there are things that I am noticing that are starting to make me worried, and wonder if AirTable is going downhill.

I’m worried about this because I had the same experience with Evernote. It was an excellent product for a long time, and then it stared going down hill. It’s now a worse product than it was at its place of best usage to me.

AirTable was a very consistent product. That’s what I liked about it. But I’m starting to notice inconsistencies, and it’s really worrying me.

Maybe I’m just getting itchy feet. I don’t know.

Is anyone else feeling this?

21 Replies 21

Is the answer to go bespoke?

It depends on what your needs are. Bespoke is very expensive and takes a lengthy time to build & maintain. Airtable is quick, inexpensive, fun, simple, and can easily be extended to communicate with most apps on the web using its API and a tool like Make.com.

Yeah. I’ve got a lovely setup, using Make. But I’ll add a backup module, like you’ve suggested

I love Make. Yeah, if you already have a lovely setup, I would just keep everything going as-is. But just be cautiously aware, keep your defenses up, and be ready to flee if necessary.

Wise. I will do… probably, into excel! Ha!

Build your systems in ways that make it possible to grab a go-bag and move on. Since Airtable formulas and scripts are locked into the platform, the go-bag will probably have only your data. Ergo - best to think carefully about building deep dependencies on a specific architecture. Easier said than done.

Certainly ensuring your data can be preserved and exported is essential. I only agree to a certain extent with a hesitancy to adopt an architecture though. Absolutely, thought should be put into the initial choice, to ensure you are selecting an application that meets your needs better than the alternatives. But if you always keep every application you use at the end of a 6-foot pole, to prevent “building deep dependencies”, you will never get out of the application the thing you adopted it for in the first place – solutions to your architecture needs.

You have to build dependencies on something. You do the best you can to make a good choice based on research. Once you make your choice though, it makes every bit of sense to squeeze every bit of juice out of the application (and adjacent applications) as possible to make it work for you.

As you say, @Bill.French, limiting your dependency is easier said than done. You can’t sit around waiting for the perfect piece of software to come along – you’ll die, and your business along with you, before you get that software. You’re going to have to commit to something, and it’s going to hurt if you have to switch down the road. This is just a reality we have to live with. But we should still count it a blessing that the same environment that brings us this pain is the environment that also brings us the joy and drive of innovation that makes all of these incredible options we have a reality.

@Scott_Gould, I’d imagine that Airtable is probably still in the top 5 options available to you for meeting your business needs, regardless of cost, and when factoring in cost, is easily in the top 3. That being the case, I’d agree with @ScottWorld’s general advice to keep on at it, and make data backups. But perhaps to add just a little to that, maybe also document your processes and workflows outside of Airtable as well, and only in general terms of what those workflows accomplish, not how they accomplish it with your specific tools right now. That way, should you have to make a switch in the future, you are able to remember in what ways you had your data connected to processes, and are able to rebuild those workflows in another architecture (don’t know about you, but I’d forget all the workflows I had in place).

Ideal advice for building the go-bag.

Indeed, and I’m not suggesting you avoid all dependencies or commitment to the platform. Simply saying be prepared and this is not easy work.

To clarify, there are a few subtleties worth a finer point. I’m not suggesting anyone not commit or create deep dependencies; far from it. I am saying that switching costs can be predicted and weighed against the benefits of putting down deep roots in Airtable. For small firms and systems without lots of complexities, the switching costs could be mitigated with little effort despite how deep the roots go. For larger teams and processes with mission-critical requirements, these costs can be huge - indeed, large enough to make a big financial dent in the bank account and your resume. :winking_face: I’ve seen career-ending moves at the end of a technology cul de sac. So with that, it’s wise to be cautious and transparent about worst-case outcomes.

To be clear, I said neither of these things. I’m not suggesting always avoiding building deep dependencies or waiting for the perfect solution. What I said was:

… think carefully about building deep dependencies on a specific architecture.

This is simply a suggestion; if you spend some time carefully designing your [deeper] Airtable dependencies, there are many ways to insulate them from the impact of a wholesale change to another platform. Here are a few examples …

  1. You need to convey data from Airtable to another system. Do you build a bunch of Airtable SDK scripts? Or, do you establish a simple outbound webhook? The SDK script is not likely portable, but the webhook approach is very likely to be portable.

  2. You need to run an algorithm that is unique and core to your business process. Do you create some Airtable-bound code to perform this computation? Or, should you consider building your own external API that is able to float on any vendor’s no-code platform?

Again, just saying - these are the considerations that I recommend, not that I necessarily know should always be chosen in every case.

Thank you for this very useful perspective. I’ve got deep AirTable roots as far as my current system goes, but I can mitigate and ensure backups as @Bill.French and @ScottWorld have recommended

Thank you again all, I feel a bit more grounded. Still desperate for some solutions to a few things though! Ha!

Hi,

Can we create this search tool in Airtable?

Ask the community

@Bill.French wrote:
Precisely why you need an inverted full-text search index like this which makes it possible to perform fuzzy searches.

An inverted full text search index is what airtable lacks the most.
It always has been.
There is no noticeable early sign of its development.

Just followed by the lack of

bests,

oLπ