[21 Days of Automation] Day 14: Using Airtable Views to power zaps

21daysofautomation blogbot v 0.2 Sep 27, 2022
[21 Days of Automation] Day 14: Using Airtable Views to power zaps

Originally posted by Blogbot on Medium on 8th Feb 2020 

If you’re an Airtable user, you’ll likely be using a tool like Zapier to take your table to the next level, and if you’re not, I’d like to give some reasons why you might want to consider using Zapier in parallel with Airtable.

The beauty of Airtable is that it is flexible enough to create just about anything. It is effectively a stunning spreadsheet application that enables anyone to dive right in and begin creating what is essentially a bespoke product for the exact needs you have. At Saastronomcial, we are big fans and use Airtable for managing our blog and podcast. It’s easy to use, and on a paid account, you can get very fancy indeed.

There does come a point, though where some things might need to be automated. You might want to add new Typeform entries to Airtable or get email notifications when someone creates a new record. You could need to import contacts from Google Contacts into Airtable or even send an email based off of an updated record in Airtable. There are infinite possibilities when using Airtable in tandem with Zapier. In this article, I wanted to share why I have been using Airtable instead of Google sheets for my automation needs.

Granular

When I create a zap which triggers based on an event happening, I often have to use Zapier’s filter task to ensure that a trigger meets my criteria. However, when I use an Airtable view, I can configure the exact requirements a record must meet before being sent to Zapier. This unrivalled granularity not only saves us tasks in Zapier, but it also allows us to create super-specific and relevant triggers in Airtable.

Time-based

Following on from the granularity of the trigger, you can also set up your Airtable view so that a record only appears if you last updated a specific field in a temporally relevant way (e.g. you updated the name 2 weeks ago, or last updated the task today). This time specificity also often removes the need to add a delay step in your zap, because Airtable is effectively delaying the trigger.

Formula based

Airtable gives you the ability to create formulas in your tables, which allow you to do all of your calculations, and filter based on this.

Here’s an example I’ve used recently:

IF({Jobs Lookup} = "", "Lead", (IF(FIND("!", ARRAYJOIN({Jobs Lookup}, "!")) >0, LEFT(ARRAYJOIN({Jobs Lookup}, "!"), (FIND("!", ARRAYJOIN({Jobs Lookup}, "!") ) -1 ) ), (ARRAYJOIN({Jobs Lookup})))))

This complicated-looking formula essentially looks up the Jobs Field and determines the most recent classification, which is very useful when dealing with arrays of data.

This type of granularity isn’t available in Google Sheets, which only gives the user the ability to trigger a zap on an update to a new or updated spreadsheet row, which, I’m sure you can imagine, can get quite challenging to manage, if you are working with large data-sets.