2/6/2024 – BuiltOnAir Live Podcast Full Show – S17-E05

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In This Episode

Welcome to the BuiltOnAir Podcast, the live show.  The BuiltOnAir Podcast is a live weekly show highlighting everything happening in the Airtable world.

Check us out at BuiltOnAir.com. Join our community, join our Slack Channel, and meet your fellow Airtable fans.

Todays Hosts

Alli Alosa – Hi there! I’m Alli 🙂 I’m a fine artist turned “techie” with a passion for organization and automation. I’m also proud to be a Community Leader in the Airtable forum, and a co-host of the BuiltOnAir podcast. My favorite part about being an Airtable consultant and developer is that I get to talk with people from all sorts of industries, and each project is an opportunity to learn how a business works.

Kamille Parks – I am an Airtable Community Forums Leader and the developer behind the custom Airtable app “Scheduler”, one of the winning projects in the Airtable Custom Blocks Contest now widely available on the Marketplace. I focus on building simple scripts, automations, and custom apps for Airtable that streamline data entry and everyday workflows.

Dan Fellars – I am the Founder of Openside, On2Air, and BuiltOnAir. I love automation and software. When not coding the next feature of On2Air, I love spending time with my wife and kids and golfing.

Show Segments

Round The Bases – 00:01:40 –

Meet the Creators – 00:01:41 –

Meet Andres Villaveces from Metrica.us.

I am an architect and entrepreneur, based in Seattle, WA. I have workeds worked with a geographically dispersed team since we started, 9 years ago.

Visit them online

Base Showcase – 00:01:42 –

We dive into a full working base that will Andres will showcase his custom built workflows in Airtable for Architects.

An App a Day – 00:01:43 –

Watch as we install, explore, and showcase the MiniExtenstions App from the Airtable Marketplace. The app is described as “Alli will showcase using MiniExtensions Forms for editing Linked Records.”.

View App

Full Segment Details

Segment: Round The Bases

Start Time: 00:01:40

Roundup of what’s happening in the Airtable communities – Airtable, BuiltOnAir, Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Segment: Meet the Creators

Start Time: 00:01:41

Andres Villaveces –

Meet Andres Villaveces from Metrica.us.

I am an architect and entrepreneur, based in Seattle, WA. I have workeds worked with a geographically dispersed team since we started, 9 years ago.

Visit them online

Segment: Base Showcase

Start Time: 00:01:42

Airtable for Architects

We dive into a full working base that will Andres will showcase his custom built workflows in Airtable for Architects.

Segment: An App a Day

Start Time: 00:01:43

Airtable App Showcase – MiniExtenstions – Alli will showcase using MiniExtensions Forms for editing Linked Records.

Watch as we install, explore, and showcase the MiniExtenstions App from the Airtable Marketplace. The app is described as “Alli will showcase using MiniExtensions Forms for editing Linked Records.”.

View App

Full Transcription

The full transcription for the show can be found here:

[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to the BuiltOnAir Podcast, the variety show for all things Airtable. In each episode, we cover four different segments. It's always fresh and different, and lots of fun. While you get the insider info on all things Airtable, our hosts and guests are some of the most senior experts in the Airtable community.

[00:00:26] Join us live each week on our YouTube channel every Tuesday at 11:00 AM Eastern and join our active community at BuiltOnAir.com. Before we begin, a word from our sponsor on. On2Air Backups provides automated Airtable backups to your cloud storage for secure and reliable data protection. Prevent data loss and set up a secure Airtable backup system with On2Air Backups at on2air.com

[00:00:49] com. As one customer, Sarah, said, Having automated Airtable backups has freed up hours of my time every other week. And the fear of losing anything. Long time customer [00:01:00] David states, OntoAir Backups might be the most critical piece of the puzzle to guard against unforeseeable disaster. It's easy to set up, and it just works.

[00:01:08] Join Sarah, David, and hundreds more Airtable users like you to protect your Airtable data with OntoAir Backups. Sign up today with promo code BUILTONAIR for a 10 percent discount. Check them out at on2air.com. And now let's check out today's episode, and see what we BuiltOnAir.

[00:01:25] Dan Fellars: Welcome back to the BuiltOnAir podcast. We are in episode five of season 17. Good to be back with you. Myself, Dan Fellars, Kamille Parks, and Alli Alosa back together again. And we have our special guest Andres. Welcome Andres. Thank you. Good to good to have you with us. We'll learn more about Andres and his story and background later in the [00:02:00] show.

[00:02:00] But first let's walk through what we're going to be doing today. We always start off with our around the bases to keep you up to date on air table and. All the latest news that they have going on, then a quick shout out to our sponsor onto where onto our backups, and then we'll learn about Andres and his story and what he is up to, and then he will share his base with us on how to use our table for an architectural firm.

[00:02:28] And then how to join our community. And then finally, Ali is going to walk us through using mini extensions, one letter too long there using forms and linked records. 

[00:02:41] ROUND THE BASES - 00:02:42

[00:02:42] So good show for you today with our around the bases. I'm going to start, we did touch on this last week, so this isn't hot off the presses, but what was new was, was the write up from air table on all the [00:03:00] new features.

[00:03:01] So we'll just kind of review the new features. The first one they highlight is the app quick start. And so this is basically like a walkthrough tutorial to create a base and I actually used it this week and I was actually pretty impressed. Like it was, it was better than I was expecting to help build different types of applications and elements.

[00:03:26] And there was a lot you could configure within there. So I don't know. Most people that are experienced usually just start from scratch, but I could see this being beneficial, especially for new users.

[00:03:42] Yeah, and then, and then the new one, the Dashboard Builder. This one I have not played with. Has anybody played with this one yet? I have.

[00:03:54] Kamille Parks: So, I, you know, I've said it before in like sort of typical Airtable fashion, they [00:04:00] add some features that are really nice specifically for charts. There's no drill down, which means if you click on a segment of a pie chart or a bar chart, et cetera a new detail page will pop up. which will show you like all of the records that make up that segment of the chart.

[00:04:16] Very nice and very useful that you can like filter down and open up another detail page from there. They, you know, you could share filters between different elements on the page pretty easily, but not so nice are the limitations on the elements that can go on the page. You can put any type of chart, but you can't put a grid calendar Kanban.

[00:04:41] There's one more. I think I'm forgetting. You can never put a Gantt on a interface. What was it, Alli? Gallery. Gallery. Thank you. You can't do those. So you could only do a list view or a timeline. Timeline works fine to my testing. I didn't notice anything missing from [00:05:00] that. But list view, you can't do nested, hierarchy, which is the whole point of the list view.

[00:05:07] So I don't understand. Like I understand. Cause the air table is. It's sort of pushing to use the list view more than the grid. I don't understand why the list view didn't come intact. It's just, it's strange. So I have a couple of projects where I want to use the new dashboard things. It would be really helpful.

[00:05:31] Some of the features they've added, but they haven't added enough where I can actually use it. Yeah. 

[00:05:38] Alli Alosa: I couldn't agree more. I don't, I don't understand why, like, especially for list view, I feel like there's, Features that you can only access on, like, the detail panel versus the screens, like, the main page.

[00:05:52] Like, I don't understand why it keeps, like, coming with certain features and without them in other places. The other thing that really bothered [00:06:00] me is on, like, the old dashboard, obviously, there's a lot more flexibility, and you can point things at any table, but the new one, you have to point it at one table, and then the list view can only be of that table.

[00:06:12] It can't be Of like anything else that might be linked to that table, or I don't know, it's not very flexible, but there are other things that I do like. 

[00:06:23] Kamille Parks: Yeah, so it inherits the new detail pages methodologies of using groups. So, you know, each group has its own data source. So group A will always be from this particular table and group B will always be from this particular table.

[00:06:41] But to Alli's point, specifically for ListView, oftentimes you'll have the greater source be your projects, and then the nested ListView, its source would be any tasks linked to that project. And you can't do that. It's strange. Exactly. [00:07:00] Very odd. 

[00:07:00] Alli Alosa: Yeah. Yeah, there's, I mean, steps in the right direction. The chart thing that Kamille mentioned is huge.

[00:07:09] That's been something that people have been wanting for a really long time and something that they kind of did have in the chart extension where you could click on a part of the chart, pop open with all the records that go towards that data point. So that's. That's huge. Really excited about that. 

[00:07:24] Kamille Parks: Yeah, it's a running theme of Airtable creating a feature somewhere, and then migrating that feature somewhere else, but not migrating all of that feature.

[00:07:34] Just some of it. Just enough. A little taste of the feature to its new home, and then I think Interface Designer has been out for three years, and now you can click on charts, even though it was originally available in the chart extension. Again, Yeah, 

[00:07:52] Dan Fellars: that's amazing. Very good. That one dashboard builder is new.

[00:07:57] All right. Conditional logic on [00:08:00] record detail and form layouts. 

[00:08:04] Kamille Parks: I have only a minor comment that I wish it would do a particular thing. It's very useful. It works the way that you would expect. You filter just like you would a view. And it hides that particular group. Airtable has been very careful to mention you should not use it as a security feature because it is possible if you dig around in the page to access that data even though it's hidden.

[00:08:27] So be wary of that. But if you just want to declutter a page so it doesn't have so much stuff on it, depending on who's looking at it, that's great. I wish you could have a filter that is not related to the fields on the page and more related to who is logged in. So, you know, is your name Kamille?

[00:08:49] Okay, you get this particular group visible to you. So not related to, is Kamille assigned to this project? What if I'm assigned to every project? You know what I mean? Just [00:09:00] look at who's logged in, which Airtable, of course, has access to as information. It's not a feature yet, but I can see it being a possible feature to add.

[00:09:09] Absolutely. 

[00:09:10] Alli Alosa: Like if you're, if you're like a super admin or something that needs people to approve all the projects or whatever. Exactly. Yeah, that would be huge. And another thing to mention is if you are using mobile interfaces, something One of the few that actually work on a phone that if you're using the conditional logic, it will not work.

[00:09:35] And I believe it just doesn't show anything or it does. I can't remember which one. 

[00:09:41] Kamille Parks: I believe it does not show the section no matter what. Exactly. 

[00:09:47] Alli Alosa: So if you have the conditional logic set up and someone's looking at it on a phone, they're never going to see that section even if the conditions you set 

[00:09:54] Kamille Parks: up are true.

[00:09:56] Which is interesting. Frustrating. Yeah. I [00:10:00] think a lot of this whole thread I can summarize with, that's nice, but strange.

[00:10:08] Dan Fellars: Yeah. Yeah. Hopefully, hopefully, it's just the foundation and they're going to keep, keep building and improving on these. 

[00:10:18] Alli Alosa: Absolutely. I'm excited with the changes they've made so far, for the most part, so. 

[00:10:23] Kamille Parks: We'll see what happens. This is I think the last few bulk updates from Airtable have been like mixed bags in terms of like, this is a great idea and this is a terrible idea.

[00:10:35] This has been, for the most part, largely positive. Like I, there's no ire in what I say. It's just, you know, there could be improvements to what I've seen overall, you know, it's a decent batch. 

[00:10:51] Dan Fellars: Someone we know would call it half baked. 

[00:10:54] Kamille Parks: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:10:55] Andres Villaveces: Yeah. 

[00:10:58] Dan Fellars: All right, so that's [00:11:00] on conditional logic, and then we've got interface form validation.

[00:11:05] So the ability, character limits, value ranges. We did talk about this a week or two ago. Any thoughts on these? It's 

[00:11:15] Kamille Parks: fine. Yeah, I'm sure it's useful for lots of 

[00:11:19] Alli Alosa: people. 

[00:11:21] Kamille Parks: So, very cool. 

[00:11:23] Dan Fellars: Yep, so that's good. Probably again more more use cases needed. And then then a few more manually order records and interfaces so you can actually drag and drop manually move tables in base to drop down, or in other words, hide tables.

[00:11:45] I think it's funny how they word it that way. I think that that's good. They don't want you to think that like nobody will see it if you hide it. But they are moving it to a dropdown and then manage and delete interface layouts. [00:12:00] That's a nice one. I know people are asking for 

[00:12:04] Kamille Parks: my various air table accounts still don't have the second and third of those bullet points visible.

[00:12:12] I don't know what the rollout is like for. All of these features. I got everything that had screenshots, but these three bulleted items I still don't see in my accounts yet. Yeah. 

[00:12:25] Dan Fellars: And then a sneak peek for what's coming up with interfaces. We've got interface for Android. That's nice. And then interface CSV export.

[00:12:39] So is that just the ability to export the data or the interface? Probably the data. 

[00:12:46] Kamille Parks: I would imagine so. 

[00:12:48] Alli Alosa: Yeah, I'd imagine like in the three little dots on the list view, you could have export CSV 

[00:12:54] Kamille Parks: as an 

[00:12:54] Dan Fellars: option. Yeah, yeah. And then pivot tables. I thought that was going to be coming. [00:13:00] They, they, they hinted at that, that that was going to be part of this release.

[00:13:04] But I think that's coming soon. 

[00:13:06] Kamille Parks: That'll be huge. It might have got pushed out a little bit. Yeah. It's one of the one things that I have been like begging for, because I have several projects where it required an interface and having to make your own pivot table. in an interface is an arduous and terrible experience.

[00:13:25] I wouldn't wish on many. Yeah, 

[00:13:29] Dan Fellars: yeah. And then here's one that's kind of a enhanced project management capabilities. Not sure what that 

[00:13:35] Kamille Parks: entails. That could be anything. 

[00:13:37] Dan Fellars: All right. And then they do have some, some enterprise features. So syncing, they're adding more data points to pull data in. So syncing with workday or snowflake, that's big on the enterprise side and then custom data retention capabilities.

[00:13:58] So you can, [00:14:00] you can define how long data field or data stays active. So I know that's a big one for enterprise as well. Yeah, interesting. Yeah, and that's it. Then there's comments, feedback. And then if you go to the what's new, there's actually a few others on here, at least one that I saw.

[00:14:28] Tables, new dashboard, builders, yeah. So there's one that they didn't mention right here. consistent default values. I thought this was interesting. Have you looked at this one? 

[00:14:40] Kamille Parks: I saw it noted. I realized I had noticed that sometimes default values get applied when you create a new record and sometimes they don't.

[00:14:50] And I never did any sort of testing that identified which was the case where. It wouldn't do it like automations seemed to always do [00:15:00] it, and if you just create a new record from within Airtable, it seemed to do it, but I think it was the API piece that was like kind of up in the air, whether or not it would apply, whatever you've said is the default for that field.

[00:15:13] So it's nice that it's now universal and more explicit. If you don't want the, default value, then explicitly say this value should be null or empty or some other value. Yeah. 

[00:15:30] Dan Fellars: Yeah. So that that's good. Even CSV import, like if you're importing data from a CSV, I don't, it sounds like that one wasn't or if you're using the API.

[00:15:40] So there's so many ways you can get data into Airtable. We're trying to make it consistent. So I think that that's really big, but it looks like you have to toggle it. So you have to I'm not sure where maybe in the account settings you have to or somewhere in the base. Oh, here it is.[00:16:00] 

[00:16:03] Andres Villaveces: Cool. 

[00:16:04] Dan Fellars: Oh, at the, at the field level. So you have to do it for every field to apply that, that the defaults for all actions, and it's 

[00:16:14] Kamille Parks: not we're kind. It's possible to make a script that will run through all of your fields. Anything that has a default and turn on that toggle one by one. I don't know if that's actually available, but if it's not either myself or Kavan will probably write a script that 

[00:16:35] Dan Fellars: does it.

[00:16:37] Yeah. If they expose that to the, to the script, I wonder if, if I don't recall them updating the, the meta API to show that, that this is available in the field settings options, but it might be. So yeah, that would be interesting. Be [00:17:00] nice. All right. So that kind of summarizes all the, all the new stuff and we'll see, I think there are more coming soon and hopefully improvements to each of these to improve and enhance.

[00:17:13] There was one comment from the BuiltOnAir community. So conditional record leaking still coming, or is this conditional group hiding what they meant? And Russell responds, definitely coming, just no timeline. Their hint was just that they were laying the groundwork, and so this is one I won't out anybody, but I think it is out in the wild of conditional record linking.

[00:17:42] But yeah, so that's one that, that hopefully is coming soon. 

[00:17:47] Kamille Parks: Yeah. The, the context for it, I believe was there's a thread on the Airtable community forums where I think Airtable released a particular feature and someone had feedback about it. And then an [00:18:00] Airtable employee clarified that this change was necessary for a reasons X, Y, and Z.

[00:18:05] And it lays the groundwork for additional features, parenthetical, such as conditional record linking. So it was specifically mentioned by someone who works at Airtable on Airtable's community forum in relation to some other feature set. I don't think these particular features, but like it's, you know. We didn't make it up.

[00:18:26] Yeah. 

[00:18:28] Dan Fellars: No. And there is there. What? Well, yeah, there is. I think it, I think it is out in the wild in some use cases, so hopefully coming soon. All right. Moving on a couple from Twitter X, this was one I'm always interested learning more about AI and how in particular how air table is using AI. So if that's of interest to you I found this interview with the product lead for AI at Airtable, Chelsea.

[00:18:59] [00:19:00] There's an interview and I believe if you want the full episode, you can check it out there on YouTube or Spotify. So yeah, reimagining workflows with AI at Airtable with Chelsea. So I think that, that could be interesting. And then another one, this is one that kind of caught my interest. This is a term I know I've, I've heard of before a chief automation officer.

[00:19:29] And so this, this podcast talks about kind of the need for a chief automation officer, and so this is kind of more a philosophical question of like, will this become a title that every company has as far as like a C level executive that works on automating processes. Yeah,

[00:19:59] Alli Alosa: I think [00:20:00] it's, I mean, I could see that absolutely happening and as the further we go into this, like new world in tech, I guess, like, I mean, I see it often, it's awesome that like every person could just like, without even a technical background could pick up, you Zapier usually or something like that and say, all right, I'm going to set up my automation.

[00:20:22] And that's exactly how I got started in this realm, which is awesome. But I think when everybody has access to it, things can start to get really hairy really quickly. And so I think it's kind of nice to have somebody at the top that's like, okay, this is worth automating. This is not, we need to have everything in check.

[00:20:42] Yeah, I could absolutely see this being the future. 

[00:20:46] Dan Fellars: Yeah. Yeah. It's definitely something we think about. I've spoken to other experts as far as like, you know, the agency that I run, we kind of view ourselves as, you know, a a [00:21:00] part time automation team that can be an extension to the companies that we're engaged with.

[00:21:06] And so I think it will be become more and more, you know, I don't know if they're, you know, chief automation officer, but definitely. Yeah, an automation team that works with all the business units to look for efficiencies. So it's interesting. So I'm always curious. Yeah, I see people talk about it in the wild if it starts to pick up traction.

[00:21:31] Alli Alosa: Certainly. 

[00:21:33] Dan Fellars: All right, that rounds up, that concludes Around the Bases and what's going on in Airtable, all the communities and latest news and updates. So keep you up to date there. 

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[00:22:50] So if that's one of you and you're listening to the show, log into On2Air and convert to OAuth so we can get your backups up and running again. [00:23:00] And there wasn't as much backlash on that as I thought there would be, because we saw it, I can't remember, like around two o'clock my time in the afternoon, we just started getting the errors coming in that the connection was no longer valid, and I had some zap years that somehow didn't get converted, some zaps, and so I started getting errors, but I didn't see a meltdown anywhere, did you?

[00:23:27] Luckily, 

[00:23:27] Alli Alosa: no, I'm kind of almost still waiting for it to happen, but I haven't even I haven't gotten any panicked emails yet, so 

[00:23:35] Kamille Parks: we'll see. I think what it's going to be, because they gave such a lead time for this particular depreciation that the majority of constantly running ZAPs and make scenarios, et cetera, have probably been dealt with if people are on top of their systems.

[00:23:53] But it's the ones that are like, on March 1st, remind me to do my [00:24:00] taxes. Yeah, those are the ones that probably slipped through the cracks and so on March 2nd, we're probably going to see some, you know, more posts like what happened to this thing? It was working perfectly fine. And then we're going to discover that it was still using an API key rather than a personal access token or an OAuth connection.

[00:24:20] For 

[00:24:22] Dan Fellars: sure. So yeah, make sure you do that. So if things aren't working right, that might be that might be the reason why.


[00:24:33] All right, let's learn about Andres and his background. Kamille is going to ask some questions here. Spotlight him. Cheer in there. 

[00:24:44] Kamille Parks: Well, hello. 

[00:24:46] Andres Villaveces: Hi Kamille, how are you? Thank you all for having me.

[00:24:49] Kamille Parks: But of course so why don't we start off with the, my favorite question. How'd you come across Airtable? 

[00:24:58] Andres Villaveces: It's been, [00:25:00] it's been a long, long, journey, let's say. I actually, I, I started with Smartsheet and then I, I guess one thing led to the, to another. And I found Airtable and the way I started implementing it many years ago.

[00:25:15] And I guess I didn't really learn it very well. And I left it on the side for a while, and then I realized it could, it could really help a bunch of the processes that we were struggling with and started, started really playing with it and seeing what could be done. And I was just scratching the surface.

[00:25:35] There's, there's way too much. Even the conversation you guys are having is, is quite sophisticated for the level of air table that I can manage. 

[00:25:45] Kamille Parks: All you've got to do is be on a podcast for four to five years that consistently talks about exactly one product and you'll be right there with us. So zooming out a little bit [00:26:00] and referencing that ex post, did you come across Smartsheet or Airtable as whatever the organization at the time was?

[00:26:10] A chief automation officer or in a role of I'm specifically here to make things more efficient or were you going about your, your day to day and realized whatever we're currently doing could probably be a bit better if I had another tool at my disposal. So 

[00:26:28] Andres Villaveces: I guess it's the same. So first, I started my own office about almost 10 years ago, and when I did, it was a moment in which there were a bunch of applications like Asana coming up.

[00:26:41] Dropbox were starting to go mainstream. At least that's when I learned it. So I figured I would try to. Implement this more efficient systems into my new office in a way that would work. I run into Smartsheet and it had some really neat features that I hadn't seen in an Excel spreadsheet, so it was about [00:27:00] trying to centralize the information and be able to.

[00:27:06] Manipulate it in a way in which if I make a revision somewhere, it makes a revision everywhere else. And that's, I, I really did a deep dive into Google Sheets. And, and I hit a wall at some point, and that's, that's when I decided, as, as, the more I, I, I went into Google Sheets, the more I realized that Airtable might be able to help me with this.

[00:27:26] So that's, that's how I, it came up to, came up to me. 

[00:27:33] Kamille Parks: So, can we talk a little bit specifically about in your industry, in your office, what was one of Either task or workflow that you were probably doing in Excel that led you to look at things like Asana, then Smartsheet, then eventually to Airtable that was just, you just knew there was something off about it.

[00:27:58] Oh, there's, 

[00:27:59] Andres Villaveces: there's so [00:28:00] many. I'm sure there are. The first one is, is the current set of drawings. So if you have a list of drawings, we used to have, we used to keep a list of drawings in Excel that had like this could be thousands of drawings for a large project. That had to be maintained and in parallel, we would have to file the or save the actual files in a folder that would mimic the Excel structure.

[00:28:27] It was just there was a couple of full time persons doing that. So just having the ability to add an attachment to a record, it's it's a huge time saver. But besides that, like I'll be running the finances for my business and I table for. more than four years now. So cash flow prediction of cash flow.

[00:28:52] That's that's another huge one. And doing that, I felt to do it in small sheet and Excel is really tough and a table. It makes [00:29:00] it really easy. So and there's there's a lot. There's proposal planning. There's project budgeting. There's staff allocation. There's there's all kinds of, let's say a glamorous things about architecture of the business operations that are Made much easier by using the right system, I guess.

[00:29:19] Kamille Parks: In a previous life, I was an urban planner and I worked at an architecture firm and there are definitely things where, thinking back on my own experience, I was like, I feel like we need a database for this and a single or several unconnected spreadsheets probably isn't the way to go. 

[00:29:39] Andres Villaveces: Yes, it just, it just opens up for, errors and mistakes and discrepancies like we also do interior design. We keep it on our table. So there's a bunch of uses that we have 

[00:29:52] Kamille Parks: So would you say that you see a lot of the value in being able to define something once in [00:30:00] Airtable and have that information propagate to your other tables, whereas in something like Excel you really have to like, do a lot of duplication and checking multiple different places?

[00:30:12] Andres Villaveces: Oh, without a doubt. And there's no, there's very little formulas. Most of the formulas are just formatting for. Because the data takes care of sums and the subtractions and the data takes care of the math. But then is the relationship between that data that is really powerful that it cannot happen in the same way in Excel or Google Sheets.

[00:30:39] Kamille Parks: That's a really interesting way to put it, that the data takes care of the math. I haven't really thought about it in that way before. Typically a lot of my projects don't involve a whole lot of numbers necessarily. I work more with text based databases. But, As much as I like writing formulas in Airtable, [00:31:00] it would be great if we could use fewer.

[00:31:03] Andres Villaveces: Right. No, actually, the only, or, I mean, it's not a perfect system. And some of the things that I found a little challenging is date formulas. They can be really difficult sometimes, but there's just a few, so I have to spend a little bit of time to just kind of figure it out and then have it have it being reviewed, but, but but besides that, it's, it's pretty, it's pretty easy to pick up and, and customize.

[00:31:30] Kamille Parks: Sure. So if, if you're leading the practice of your office and you're also kind of the one that's trying out some of these other tools to make some of your processes a little bit more efficient, what is that kind of balance like? Because I know as someone who's not in charge of anything when I get a new tool, I'm, I'm very curious.

[00:31:53] I, I, You know, spend an awful lot of time doing some exploration that has nothing really to do with the [00:32:00] problem I was trying to solve. Did you find yourself kind of falling down rabbit holes when you were trying out Smartsheet slash Airtable, or were you able to just sort of barrel ahead? No, 

[00:32:13] Andres Villaveces: I, I, I tried so many.

[00:32:16] Applications and it's frustrating because I guess in my industry, they're all architects have a process and there's usually a very similar process. Although everyone is a little bit different and there is a lack of tools out there that can help you. There's a, there's a couple that came up in the last couple of years that are pretty good, but, there's been a lack of tools for managing a practice.

[00:32:40] And the ones that are The ones that I did know of, they were either not suited for architects or they were incredibly complicated. They had like, 30 day training and it was super expensive. I tried it and I quit because I didn't have time for this. I didn't have time to [00:33:00] Learn a new system and adopt it and then, and then if I'm gonna send an invoice, it's like where, where the hell is this invoice and how do I edit it and then you end up doing everything manually to just get it out the door and, and it's, it's, it's tough.

[00:33:12] So yeah, I went through a lot of rabbit holes. 

[00:33:16] Kamille Parks: And I distinctly remember looking at not necessarily tools that we had used in the firm I was at, but like trying to research. Is there a good project management tool designed for architects or engineers or, you know, urban planners? And from my research that I remembered, not really.

[00:33:36] It's, It's, there's a lot of specificity in the types of work, construction as well. There's more for construction, I think, but it, there's a lot of very particular things that are unique to the industry. And it's one of those things where you either get this like gargantuan piece of software that does it all, but is, it's like looking at the matrix.[00:34:00] 

[00:34:00] There's a thousand things going by on the screen and it's, it's not as intuitive as you'd like. Or you make it yourself in, you know, a tool that you can get your hands on really. 

[00:34:12] Andres Villaveces: That's, that's true. And the ones that are out there, they're more geared towards, more towards financial management. And that's of course important, unless I was predicting cashflow, it's a, it's a huge thing.

[00:34:27] But they sort of stopped there that you, you can get to the invoices and you can track the product performance and that kind of stuff. Like Harvest is an example. This is a great software for invoicing. It's cheap. But. Once you start to get into project management, specifically for architects, you still have to jump to other type of software to complement the features that it doesn't have, right?

[00:34:51] Right. So. With Airtable, it's, I was able to tailor it to most [00:35:00] everything that I need, to be honest. We use our modeling software, which is ARCHICAD, and then we use Airtable. Those are the two pillars where the office works. 

[00:35:10] Kamille Parks: And I believe you have an example for us on how you've used Airtable in your practice.

[00:35:16] Yeah, I can 

[00:35:17] Andres Villaveces: share screen 

[00:35:19] Dan Fellars: if you want to share your screen. 


[00:35:24] Andres Villaveces: Yeah, this is the first time I share this publicly. Although Ali has seen some of it a couple years ago. Let me let me share the screen here. Yeah.

[00:35:40] Let me know when you see it.

[00:35:45] There you go. Okay. So a couple of years ago, I built a similar system. Actually, I helped me write some scripts, scripts, because I don't know any scripting. And it was tough because when I had to modify it, I just, I just couldn't do it. [00:36:00] So I decided to rebuild it. But only using automations and just data relationships.

[00:36:11] So it's very simple. There's a lot of automations, but it's, you could override it easily if you needed to. So there's, there's a couple of things I want to focus on one aspect in particular. So this is actually. Dummy data, but there's some truth to it. I kind of duplicated my, my real base and change some of the stuff.

[00:36:33] So there's two parts to this. One is the interface for the team. So we can track the schedule for projects. Right? And the data that's associated with all the praise for it for the team, like the project address with the timeline and all the stuff, the faces for the project, milestones for every project.

[00:36:57] So there's there's a. There's some information [00:37:00] that's public. But what I want to show you, there's a couple things I want to show you. This is, this is actually related to your question about use cases. So in this one, and this is real data. Actually, if I click on the names of the perks are not real, of course, but if I click on one of these is going to show me all the data that's associated with this project.

[00:37:20] And if I can look and who sent it. Data. If I look for the land survey, right? It's right here. So this is being very helpful, not only for us as a team, but also to share with our clients when we need to, share the information that's, been filed for a price. So this is this is a very powerful feature.

[00:37:42] And this is what started off. But the other part that I want to show you is the way to create the project because this is what what's taking most of the time. So inside the base, I think I was indexing this recently because it was just [00:38:00] getting out of control and I think I have more than 500 fields across.

[00:38:06] 25 tables or something. The idea is that I have some project templates that have pre assigned values. So when I create a project, I can assign one of these templates and it's just going to essentially generate the project work plan live. So let me, is it okay if I do a demo here? It's going to take like a couple minutes.

[00:38:29] It runs all the automations. So I'll just add a project here. Let's see, and I'll, it automatically gets a starting date assigned, but I, I can, I can change that, of course, and then I change a fee. So let's say this is just for, this is 99, 000. Let's say that's the fee for this, for this project. So I add it to the template, and then once it adds to the [00:39:00] template, the fees that are pre assigned to each one of these milestones are going to get populated.

[00:39:10] There you go. It's a little bit slower when we're online, by the way. And then I can, I have different templates here, so I can go to permit only, I can go to feasibility and concept only, but let's do, let's do, let's do this permit, which is six milestones. So once I, once I get here, I can choose the milestones that I want to work with.

[00:39:35] And if I need to change the duration of each milestone, I can do it here. And if everything looks good, I just, I just hit create. This is a, you were talking about dynamic filtering, right? So this one is a dynamic filter that I kind of made up. It carries through all the tables. So it allows me to filter just that project.[00:40:00] 

[00:40:02] So when I go here, I'm gonna, I'm gonna create this. So you see, there's no data for this yet. And when we create these are the overall items that need to be created. So it should start in a, in a moment to generate this. I hope it doesn't make me look bad now that we're live. There it goes. So there we go.

[00:40:22] I have an auditing table here that shows me, like, all the things that I need to create. I got to create roles, faces, and they have to be in this order too, faces, milestones, deliverables, staff, and invoices. So it kind of goes through each one. And when that one is done, it goes to the next one. It needs to be sequential because otherwise the automation kind of goes crazy.

[00:40:46] So if I go here, you'll see, it's now creating all this stuff. Screen deliverables.

[00:40:57] So here I have [00:41:00] three phases. So the one thing about this, and I think that I guess that can translate to all the industries, I guess, is, well, maybe not. I don't know. But one thing is architecture, architects and architecture as a standard process that is. Very well documented for public projects and for commercial projects and for people that are very sophisticated about how they talk about the project and you have faces like schematic design, design development, construction documents, and there's milestones within those faces, like 50 percent design development.

[00:41:37] But when I look at that, those phases do not really, relate to what the market conditions are for smaller projects. So when you talk to an owner or a small developer. 50 percent design development doesn't really mean much. So part of it has been arranging the phases [00:42:00] if they're needed, but the project is based on the milestones, which are a lot more user friendly and they're a lot more manageable.

[00:42:07] So I create milestones. I assign a percentage of the fee. So if this is the first milestone, this is usually a down payment. And if I change this, the feed changes, and I have, I have ways to override this, but it gives me the start, the moment when it ends, the duration of each milestone I can say here, I can see here that this is going to last 25 weeks.

[00:42:34] If I need to break it into stages I can, usually sometimes there's some people that want to do one phase only and then another one so this, this is helpful for that. And then I also have a list of deliverables that are associated with each milestone. And I can adjust the cost of those deliverables between based on a on a relative complexity [00:43:00] scale that we created here.

[00:43:02] So if you have a design fee for a given deliverable, like in this case, 9900, I can say, okay, this. I, I, I, getting the survey from the owner is just going to take me a phone call or an email and some coordination with the consultant is not going to be the same as doing the whole feasibility. So, I could change this complexity of each items, and they would vary the fee for each deliverable, but the design fee of that phase remains the same so there's, there's some structure that is fixed.

[00:43:36] And allows me to adjust depending on on on each project. And the same goes with the staffing and the utilization. So this is based on this. This kind of outlines the project roadmap for a client. And this is actually what goes into my proposals. This [00:44:00] is what I talk to my clients when I go into a proposal.

[00:44:02] We go through each one of these deliverables and we explain how it works and how time it takes and when we're going to be Done with them because there's already a schedule associated with this. But also one of the interesting parts, and I don't know why this automation is not working, so I have to override it manually.

[00:44:19] Is because each of these deliverables has a date. I can create a projected billing schedule. So I can tell them, hey, these are going to be the payments that you're going to make based based on our completion of these items. If one of these items is not completed, then. Our billing is going to change, but this allows me to map my income months in advance with the understanding that we're going to stay on schedule, you know?

[00:44:53] And there's, again, there's ways to override this. If I need to make manual [00:45:00] input for these invoices or if our client wants a fixed fee, we can do that. But ideally is we are able to track the. Amount of money that has been spent on a given task and when that we can anticipate when that's going to be built for.

[00:45:17] So this is the gist of it. It's a lot of a lot to digest. I'm sure, but feel free to ask me questions. This 

[00:45:24] Alli Alosa: looks awesome. I have a question. So you'd said. And I remember when we worked on those scripts together to like, generate all the tasks. Did you change those to be run in like the native, like looping feature, the repeating groups that air table has now, is that how you're generating all these?

[00:45:46] Andres Villaveces: It's not a loop. I have a looping feature for one of them, but no, it's not. I have maybe let me see if I can show you this, but the base, the backend is a little messy right now. 

[00:45:58] Kamille Parks: The backend is always messy. [00:46:00] 

[00:46:01] Andres Villaveces: Let me see. Let me go to one of the templates here. So I got, This kind of goes with other stuff, too. It goes with the financial template, and it goes I tie it in with the tools. So I have site analysis, and I have, drawing, drawings, and I have, interior design and some other stuff. But this one is just for creating the project. So, so if I bring a project here let's say this one.

[00:46:41] This is already created, but let me see. Oh, let's just use for, for, for reference. So if I create this one, if I click on this one, if I go to each one of the templates is going to bring you that, [00:47:00] that checkbox, let me see, it's going to bring in that, ah, where is this? Let me see if I have one that's better.

[00:47:13] Sorry. No, no.

[00:47:22] There's a lot of stuff here. So let me see. Actually, let me let me let me show you the automation. When I

[00:47:40] initiated the project and I create this and there's this conditions going on for each one of those tables. What this does is that same checkbox is brought into each one of those tables as a lookup. Okay. And it creates automation that hits on this ones, and those are the [00:48:00] ones that trigger the automation.

[00:48:01] So that's, that's why I have that, that audit, right? So when I hit this, these ones are going to alternate on. And then this one is going to run and when it hits zero, this one is going to run and they hit zero and then this one is going to run and so on and so forth. This is showing minus 11 because this project already exists.

[00:48:26] But it just to answer your question, sorry, I went like on a tangent. No, it doesn't do the looping thing. Because the, the checkbox is, look is, is a lookup. It, it refers to every single record. So every record that gets that checkbox gets created. We out automation. Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. So it, it, it was, it was a little tough to figure out how to do it because the automation, if, if they're all running simultaneously, you get, you get really, [00:49:00] you get gaps.

[00:49:00] So I have to sort it out to do it sequentially. Let me see if I can, if I can show you. Because let me see.

[00:49:17] Should be able to. Okay, let me look for it. Create. There it is. So that's, that's the, where is that? Here it is. So that's a checkbox that comes from. The product template. So when that gets checked, this triggers the automation for that record, and it duplicate duplicates it essentially in the deliverables, template.

[00:49:45] So it's not an exact, Duplication because there's some other calculations that happen in the, in the live in the life sheet, but it does [00:50:00] carry each one of those items and pastes it here, which is the, that's it. That's the extent of my automation skills. Copy and paste. 

[00:50:09] Kamille Parks: No, this is awesome. Very, very cool.

[00:50:17] Dan, you're muted. Yeah, 

[00:50:21] Dan Fellars: I was coughing. Yeah, this is awesome. Andres, really appreciate you showing this with us. It's just amazing to think like how custom, like there is a lot going on there and what an off the shelf software would have to look like to accomplish what you've built over the years. It's, it's amazing.

[00:50:40] Kamille Parks: And you're able to put your own templates and not use predefined templates of what a architecture project would look like. 

[00:50:50] Andres Villaveces: Right. That's that's that's correct. And like we even have time sheets here and they they tied back to deliverables and they tie back to invoices. So if I have, let me go back to the invoices here.[00:51:00] 

[00:51:00] Let's see if those created, if, So there they are, the invoices that allow me to, to, to predict cash flow. But when, when I go to the invoices and billing, I can, depending on the type of Billing that we have for the milestone is going to bill for percent complete or is going to bill for hourly and time spent, or is going to be a custom invoice that I, that I can do.

[00:51:36] So, it allows me to track all this stuff, and it also because I'm also keeping track of time, I can also determine what the performance of the project is. Mm hmm. And this is how the financial works. So I can also group these invoices based on the invoice date. And I guess one thing that is important here is like, [00:52:00] there's two dates for accounting in my office, the 10th and the 25th.

[00:52:03] And that's like sacred. So, on the 10th and the 25th, we invoice certain projects, and we also pay our expenses. So I can group by this. By these dates, and I can actually see how much is going to be invoiced in this date, and how much is going to be invoiced in this date, and how much is going to be invoiced in this date.

[00:52:24] So, it's not only at a project level where we see like the invoices for that given project, but also on a date level. Excellent. Awesome. Yeah, there's, there's a lot to, you can go really deep into. Yeah. 

[00:52:42] Dan Fellars: All right. Very good. We're going to move on Andres, but thank you for, for showcasing that. So any architects out there that that are impressed, can watch this show and learn how to do it yourself.

[00:52:55] Appreciate it. Quick shout out. 


[00:53:00] If you want to join the community of amazing builders of Airtable, join us at builtonair. com slash join. That will get you into our Slack community of thousands of Airtable users talking about Airtable every day and getting help and helping others. So join us. We'd love to have you in.

[00:53:18] Also subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcasts and find us. 

[00:53:24] AN APP A DAY - MINIEXTENSIONS - 00:53:26

[00:53:26] Finally, we're going to end with Alli and. One of the OGs of Airtable Mini Extensions. 

[00:53:34] Alli Alosa: Excellent. Alright, so this is just a quick demo that I'm doing inspired by a project I worked with a client on recently. Pretty universal use case just working with employees and entering time for the week.

[00:53:53] So I've got a somewhat simple structure here. I've got a timesheet table. which is where [00:54:00] employees would actually be entering their time. Those are linked up to a table called employee weeks. And I put the three of us in here Alli, Kamille, and Dan. And each one of us has, you know, a record here, which is the intersection of the week and the employee.

[00:54:25] And then I've got, of course, just weeks and employees. Pretty simple structure here, but let's say I want to create a form that I can send out to each employee and have them enter in their time for each day of the week. MiniExtensions has a really cool feature in the new version of MiniExtensions where you can actually have those linked records be displayed in a form in a number of ways.

[00:54:53] And I'm just going to quickly demo how that works. So in mini extensions, I'm going to [00:55:00] go create a form and I'm pointing it at that timesheet base

[00:55:09] and here, I'm sorry, I don't want it at the timesheet table. I just accidentally, I messed that up already.

[00:55:21] I'm in the timesheet base here already and I want to create a form, not On the timesheet table. I actually want to point this at the employee weeks table. So that while I'm editing this employee week record, I'm able to edit all the linked records that are tied to it at the same time, because I don't want to send them seven different forms.

[00:55:44] You could, if you wanted them to fill it out every day, of course, but let's say we're sending one form per week where they're editing their hours at in bulk. So I don't need all this fancy stuff here. I am going to [00:56:00] just remove. I guess we could remove the name. I don't need the weeks or the employees or the week start of the weekend.

[00:56:09] I could have that if I really wanted to, but let's just pay attention to just this time sheet field here. So automatically, because it's a linked record field, many extensions is putting this little like sub form underneath it. And if I click on that. I can now edit the, like, form within the form, if that makes sense.

[00:56:31] In here, I don't need really any of these fields. I just want the date and the hours worked. And I want to make the date read only. That's important, so that nobody's messing with the actual dates. Not that they and then if I hit done, let's just see what this looks like on its own, and then I'll show you [00:57:00] how you can expand on it to make it a lot nicer.

[00:57:03] So when I go to open form here, I'm going to go to edit records instead of create, because I want, I already have these records existing in my base. I don't want people creating them when they submit. I want to actually send them a link to the existing employee week record. So many extensions will give me this formula here that I can copy.

[00:57:24] And go to my employee weeks table and create a formula field and just paste that in there. This is getting worse. This suggest password thing. I've, I'm a little nervous about it. I don't know if anyone else is having issues. I'm pretty sure it's terrible. The other day, or actually just this morning, I was typing and it put my password in here.

[00:57:48] I was like, that better not happen while I'm live. Like that'll be. So I'm just gonna say mini extensions timesheet will create that field. No, that [00:58:00] is not a password, Google Chrome. It's crazy. So now when I open that up, by default, it's gonna show me all of these records, right, in like a card view, card layout.

[00:58:16] And if I click on them, I can actually edit them and put in the hours worked here, and hit submit. A couple things I do want to change, I don't want them to be able to create a new one or link things to it. So we can go into mini extensions, and if I click on the field for timesheets, and go to record finder options, let me see, I feel like they hide this all the time, where is it?

[00:58:48] You should be able 

[00:58:49] Kamille Parks: to Do you make it read only? Is that what you do? 

[00:58:55] Alli Alosa: No, because then you can't edit the linked records, I think. [00:59:00] I swear, I, oh, hide find, it's literally right in front of me. Hide record finder button. That's what I want. And then that should save automatically, so now if I refresh this, now I have just create new and I don't want them to be able to do that either, so we can go to create and expand records and toggle that off.

[00:59:24] But I do want them to be able to edit them, so that should save again. And now I've got just the cards that I can click on and edit. But, it gets better. I can go back into here and go to this layout option. And let's say I don't want it to be that list card view, I want it to be a grid. And then you can say I want it to use the same fields from the expanding form, which I do in this case, but you could select custom fields that you want [01:00:00] displayed.

[01:00:01] And then I'm going to say done, and that again should save automatically. Now it'll display it as a grid, and I could toggle this if I had more time, you know, I'd make this look a lot prettier. But now I can say, you know, edit this. It'll still open this little pop up, which. I don't love, I kind of wish you could do it in line, but still, this gets the job done very nicely.

[01:00:30] There's also ways that you can, set this up so that this hours worked will update. I think you need to click a button to have it update to show the actual total here. But I've found this is a really nice way to allow somebody to edit a subset of linked records really quickly. And there's a lot of different layout options that you can play with.

[01:00:58] So, when they then [01:01:00] submit, I haven't really done anything, obviously we just set up this form, but you could, you know, have this go to a new page close the form, make it so that they can no longer edit it, because you don't want somebody backfilling the hours they worked last week after they've already submitted it, so that's more fancy stuff you'd need to get into, but now you can see I've filled out those linked records, and that's totaling up to the 23 hours that I've entered.

[01:01:28] Great. So really cool stuff from many extensions. There's a lot of stuff that is available in the new version that was not available in the old version that I'm really enjoying for sure. 

[01:01:42] Dan Fellars: When did the new version come out? 

[01:01:44] Alli Alosa: Oh gosh. It was probably like a year ago now, but now 

[01:01:49] Dan Fellars: there's a new, new 

[01:01:50] Alli Alosa: version.

[01:01:51] No, it's, it's been around for a while, but there's also some stuff that the old version does that the new doesn't. So I had kind of been [01:02:00] bouncing back and forth between them, but now that the API key deprecation. It's final, you can no longer add the old extensions, you can only edit them. They still work, as long as you switch them over to the personal access tokens, but, but yeah, you can't really, they're deprecating sunsetting those old forms. 

[01:02:20] Dan Fellars: Interesting. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that many extensions. com that we'll find that you can sign up for that. So that concludes today's episode. Glad you could join us and we hope to see you next week. Take care, everyone.

[01:02:36] Thank 

[01:02:36] Andres Villaveces: you.

[01:02:52] OUTRO

[01:02:53] Thank you for joining today's episode. We hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out our sponsor, On2Air backups, automated [01:03:00] backups for air table. We'll see you next time on the BuiltOnAir podcast.