Airtable Limitation from a Quick Base sales rep - are these true?

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5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

I’m looking at learning more about Airtable and using it for my small business. This platform seems promising however a sales rep from another company (Quick Base) had pointed out the following limitations of Airtable.

Airtable Limitations (according to a Quick Base rep)

  1. Limited Data Set Support: Airtable has a data limit of 50,000 records (rows) that organizations can quickly outgrow.
  2. Basic User Permissions Means Weak Data Security: Airtable has a basic user permissions security model that allows anyone invited to a workspace to view all of the info in that workspace. In addition, anyone needing to add or modify records requires Editor access which includes the ability to change and delete tables and views that may be needed by other users
  3. Lack of Reporting: Airtable lacks the ability to create reports that can be shared with management and others. Viewing tables with records grouped together provides very limited data summaries in the workspace.

Are these statement accurate about this platforms limitations, or is this dude just blowing smoke? I do notice these statements reflect 2019 features so maybe they are updated. If anyone can confirm, thank you!
Airtable vs. Quick Base comparison 2-19-19

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Hi @Zac_Campbell, welcome to the community!

You can upgrade to the enterprise plan if 50,000 records isn’t enough. Pricing plans are listed here:

Airtable recently added field and table editing permissions which gives a ton of granular control over this. This addresses the majority of security permissions that people are looking for.

For even more control — such as record-level permissions — you can use an external add-on tool like Stacker.

(You can even do a few cool tricks within Airtable by using Airtable’s built-in forms, which can be used to let add users add new records to a table, but doesn’t let them edit/update records. So, for example, let’s say that you want a user to be able to create new invoices for clients, but you never want that user to edit past invoices. You could create an invoice table that is entirely read-only to that user, but then give them a form which still allows them to add new invoices to that table. These forms could even be viewed within Airtable’s own URL Preview Block, so users don’t even need to leave Airtable — they can click on a URL within a record that brings up the form to the other table — with some of the data pre-filled & ready to go for the user!)

Most of Airtable’s more advanced reporting features are created through blocks. Check out all the blocks that are available to you!

If those blocks aren’t enough to meet your needs, then you can automate integrating Airtable with other reporting tools via automated services such as Integromat and Zapier.

I’ve never used Quick Base before, so I have no idea what it can or can’t do, but Airtable is pretty freaking awesome!! :slightly_smiling_face:

p.s. I don’t work for Airtable — I’m just an Airtable consultant & trainer. If you end up choosing Airtable and you need personalized help customizing & automating your Airtable system, feel free to send me a private message!

The limit of 50,000 records is correct, although it is possible to increase this limit with an Enterprise subscription.

However, you know your data best and can better judge of whether or not you will quickly outgrow that limit.

Depending on how your data is structured, and how much linking and archival info you need, you might be able to workaround this limit by using multiple bases. You can have an unlimited number of bases in your workspace. (Note that you cannot link between bases in Airtable.)

Airtable user permissions do have limitiations. However, the limitations aren’t that bad. While anyone invited to a workspace can view all the info in that workspace, you don’t have to invite people to an entire workspace. You can invite them to just an individual base.

Also, editor access does not allow editing table and field definitions. That requires creator level permissions. With a pro subscription you can also lock views to prevent changing.

This is wrong. The Quick Base rep may be looking at only the features on the Free and Plus plans. With a Pro subscription Airtable can create reports with the Page Design Block and various Reporting Blocks. Some of those reports can be saved to pdf or emailed to management. Some cannot. But Airtable definitely has reporting.

5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

This is most likely why I’ll shy away from this platform. If there were no limit on records then I would easily take Airtable over other options I’ve seen. Purely because my team would welcome the beautiful interface Airtable presents. I suppose I’m going to sink time into learning Quick Base and move on.

Out of curiosity, would you mind sharing your use case where you would need more than 50,000 records?

Yea, no problem, see below. And if you think I’m missing something on how to consolidate - please let me know as again, I’m new to this. :winking_face:

My model:

  • Companies have many contacts.
  • Contacts oversee many addresses.
  • Addresses have many requests.
  • Requests can have many:
    • Attachments (Drawings, job site photos)
    • Interactions <- This one would probably be the majority of my record space
    • Material Orders
    • Cost Details
  • And finally, once a job is scheduled. Each request has one PO Number we associate it with.

Again if I’m missing a significant feature that will help, please share.

This list isn’t accounting for future ideas—just the foundation of what I require to sink in time and money into a platform. My owners would be upset if we switched over to something like this, they fall in love with it, but after six months, we hit the record limit and are asked to pay much more in order to continue.

I imagine after seeing many tables bunched together like this in a base on Airtable; one could see that our average of 6,000 jobs (requests) a year will bust through 50,000 records considering the relationships attached to each one (like Interactions noted above).

Thoughts? TIA :slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you for the use case example. This is indeed a lot of data, especially if you have a new record for every interaction in each of 6,000 jobs.

Here are some techniques that some people use to reduce their number of records. You can better evaluate if some of these techniques will work for you.

  • Have multiple parallel bases with basically the exact same structure, but different data. For example, old jobs can be archived in different bases, or each contact can have his/her own base. Of course, you loose the ability to link and analyze data that is split across bases. Some people also use this method to deal with Airtable’s permission limitations.

  • Log interactions in a single long text field (with or without rich text), instead of creating a new record for each interaction.

  • “Flatten” data for old jobs, reducing the number of records by consolidating the information into text fields in the parent record and deleting the original records. (A script can automate some of this.)

It’s smart to take scale into account in your planning! It sounds like you are also taking into account the amount of user training that you will need for whatever system you end up with.

Out of curiosity, how are your users currently storing and interacting with the data?

Best of luck in whatever solution you end up choosing.

We are currently using a mix of paper, the app Trello, and Google Sheets. I’m trying to reduce stress and work hours that come with the use of physical pieces of paper. It’s my parent’s company and it seems we are stuck in the 90’s when it comes to our day to day operations :joy:

We started using Trello back in December after I was working there for a few months. This little addition of Trello prompted me into searching for more because I’m telling myself everday, “There still has to be a better way…”

Now, we are here today and I feel like I’m on the verge of substantial improvement - just worried I choose the wrong platform and waste time trying to learn it because I did not take into account all limitations. :grimacing:

Ah, yes, if you’re coming from paper and Google Sheets, there is definitely a better way. And as you’ve already tried Trello, I can see why you are hesitant about jumping from platform to platform.

Do you think any of my suggestions for dealing with Airtable’s record limit will work for you?

You may also be interested in product comparisions of Airtable with Trello, Quickbase, and other products from a pro-Airtable point of view.

  • There would be hundreds of contacts built up over time. That many bases are not ideal.
  • We would want the ability to link and analyze data that is split across bases. I’d say that’s the whole point of moving to a platform like this and paying a monthly fee.
  • I’m certain the field reps using this would have a tough time ensuring they keep accurate notes in this manner. I’m sure that sounds weird, but I don’t trust them to keep a text field organized for the rest of the staff to easily digest on the fly.
  • I could understand this working, but it’s a band-aid approach. We would have to flatten data on jobs within the same year given our potential record count, that is not desired. And once it’s flattened, you lose the ability to analyze all those fields they once were broken up by…

I’ll check out the product comparison you’ve posted. Thank you @kuovonne for the conversation.