5/7/2024 – BuiltOnAir Live Podcast Full Show – S18-E06

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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.

Hannah Wiginton – I help bold, active entrepreneurs and companies with digital marketing through creative and technical content and systems.

Show Segments

Round The Bases – 00:01:40 –

Following Articles Used in this Segment:

[BuiltOnAir Community] 0 vs Blank fields

[BuiltOnAir Community] Understanding UNIX Time

Meet the Experts – 00:01:41 –

Meet Russell Bishop from Hello Mass.

At Mass, we build automated data products in Airtable. From blank canvas to data‑led decisions in six weeks.

Visit them online

Base Showcase – 00:01:42 –

We dive into a full working base that will A custom frontend that reads from Airtable, which stores a record for each of my MP3s that is hosted in Google Drive. The frontend plays the music directly from Google Drive, and in the background Airtable runs automations to link all of the metadata together; like artists, albums, featured artists, remix artists etc.

A Case for Interface – 00:01:42 –

Explore Interfaces with “Record Review Layout”.

Kamille walks through the new and improved (?) record review layout.

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.

Following Articles Used in this Segment:

[BuiltOnAir Community] 0 vs Blank fields

[BuiltOnAir Community] Understanding UNIX Time

Segment: Meet the Experts

Start Time: 00:01:41

Russell Bishop – Founder, Hello Mass

Meet Russell Bishop from Hello Mass.

At Mass, we build automated data products in Airtable. From blank canvas to data‑led decisions in six weeks.

Visit them online

Segment: Base Showcase

Start Time: 00:01:42

MP3 Streaming Library

We dive into a full working base that will A custom frontend that reads from Airtable, which stores a record for each of my MP3s that is hosted in Google Drive. The frontend plays the music directly from Google Drive, and in the background Airtable runs automations to link all of the metadata together; like artists, albums, featured artists, remix artists etc.

Segment: A Case for Interface

Start Time: 00:01:42

Record Review Layout

Explore Interfaces with “Record Review Layout”.

Kamille walks through the new and improved (?) record review layout.

Full Transcription

The full transcription for the show can be found here:

[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to the Built On Air 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 [email protected]. Before we begin, a word from our sponsor on. 

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[00:01:38] Hannah Wiginton: Hey everyone. Welcome to the built on air podcast. This is season 18, episode six, and I am Hannah Wiginton. I'm filling in today for Dan Fellers and we're going to have a great time. We have our. Amazing co hosts Kamille Parks is [00:02:00] here and Allie is here today. And then we have our special guest, Russell, who is going to showcase his awesome MP3 streaming library.

[00:02:09] And then also tell us a little bit about himself. So we are excited to have everyone here today. Today, yeah, today we are going to go ahead and go around the base. We'll review kind of what's going on in the Airtable world today. And see what everyone is up to. We will talk to Russell and learn more about him, see his streaming library.

[00:02:37] And then Kamille is going to showcase the new record reviews. So she has a presentation for us to tell us more about it. So we're really excited about that. 

[00:02:50] ROUND THE BASES - 00:02:51 

[00:02:51] So with that, we will go ahead and go through round the bases and see what's going on in the Airtable [00:03:00] communities.

[00:03:05] Okay. The, the first one that I saw, which I kind of think is a big deal. This is really, More leaning toward tasks are the new comment, watching, and reaction features in Airtable. I think this is pretty typical for more task management, so it seems maybe they're going to start doing a little more of that.

[00:03:31] Kamille Parks: Yeah, it's pretty nice. You can also thread comments as well, so. You know, you don't have like a endless history over the life of a record. You can talk about a specific topic and then kind of drill into it a little bit more. 

[00:03:45] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah, that's a really great component, especially like if you're used to using Slack too, you can move it there a little more and then, and then react to it in the record, which is.

[00:03:58] Super useful. 

[00:03:59] Russell Bishop: [00:04:00] Yeah. Even the fact that you can just react to it. Like it's such an easy way to say, I've seen your comment and we're all very used to doing that. Agreed. I just want to put a thumbs up. Yeah, exactly. 

[00:04:13] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. So I wonder is, you know, does this mean Airtable is going to really start being more task management?

[00:04:19] Do you think they're going to add more features like this? Well, 

[00:04:24] Kamille Parks: I think in a way kind of in a roundabout way, I think they're still going to try and. Place themselves as a generalist, but they added, Gantt functionality to the timeline view. Relatively recently, the idea of date dependencies being moved to a table level setting.

[00:04:43] So, like, they're adding more and more features that make task management easier. Easier without necessarily placing themselves as a task management app. 

[00:04:53] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So comment reactions. That's, [00:05:00] that's a pretty big deal. Okay. Moving on. So air table is actually hosting a webinar. It's going to be right after this.

[00:05:10] Podcast actually like an hour after. So it's the first webinar in a two part series on learning how to use Airtable interfaces and using AI custom views. So if you know, you really want to get a good overview of how to build an interface, this is probably a great way to watch somebody go through and build one and.

[00:05:38] Maybe even discover some, some new ways to do things. So if you've not really gotten into that, that's probably a neat one to watch

[00:05:51] and it looks like they have two parts. So,

[00:05:58] Alli Alosa: Yeah. I haven't actually attended any of those [00:06:00] webinars before. 

[00:06:02] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. You know, I've, yeah, I've signed up for like one or two, but really more of like when they showcase, Hey, new features, but then I never attend them. So. I'm not a good example. Okay. The next one was, it looks like Lola here is working on a step by step tutorial for building Airtable extensions.

[00:06:30] So if that's something you've thought about doing, This may be a good place to start. I think she's maybe had a couple on there. And so she's going to go through and show you how to do it and how to get started. And, probably a good starting place to learn how to build extensions. I know Kamille is a pro at it.

[00:06:57] Kamille Parks: I've built a few. I do [00:07:00] remember setting up the environment on your local machine to, Use the SDK library and then publish to the marketplaces. Kind of annoying to set up. But then again, when I set it up the first time for so years ago, it was the first time I had done something like that. So it could have just been me being a novice.

[00:07:23] But the good news is you only have to set it up once and then never again. And it's really a matter of thinking through what your use case is. What are you trying to build? What are the features that would make it easy for the people who want to use this thing? And then, yeah, trying to, if, if you were to monetize your extension as I have done figuring out how to do that.

[00:07:50] It's difficult. So there's a lot of interesting things that you have to consider when you build an extension, but I recommend it because it's [00:08:00] it's fun. It's a good way to learn JavaScript and react. 

[00:08:03] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. Awesome. 

[00:08:06] Russell Bishop: It's also an area I see quite a few people asking for help in and there are less people to respond and give advice on.

[00:08:12] So if someone's building some or putting together some updated docs, people I'm sure that'd be very helpful because it's more technical than most of the work done in our team, isn't it? 

[00:08:22] Kamille Parks: I would love to be that person to jump in and answer questions, but I'm just so jaded that perhaps it's best for someone else.

[00:08:35] Hannah Wiginton: Oh, well, maybe now you can direct them to this course and tutorial on here's a great place. Cause I really haven't seen anything else. So,

[00:08:49] awesome. Okay. So next, this is kind of something I had seen and we'll probably have to watch this a couple of times, but basically this guy built a [00:09:00] workflow that retrieves company details from a single URL and he uses make an air table and specifically what he does is it performs a search using. The SERPR API.

[00:09:16] So essentially, I guess it's scrapes the Google search pages and goes to find all this information, by clicking a button. So then it just basically pre fills all your, Information, which I thought was pretty neat.

[00:09:37] Kamille Parks: I'm wondering why it's doing it one field at a time. Like are, how the steps are set up that like it's finding this information and then updating these fields and, et cetera. Like how, how many places is it going to scrape this? 

[00:09:55] Russell Bishop: Or is that, I was going to say, is that just for the mockup, but actually it could just 

[00:09:59] Kamille Parks: be [00:10:00] for the mockup, but I feel like that's a lot of work to, 

[00:10:02] Russell Bishop: yeah, maybe, maybe each step is now go and find this information, update the records.

[00:10:08] Could be, 

[00:10:11] Hannah Wiginton: I was going to see, Oh, let's see if we can look here. Catch the web hook. He's got a bunch of routers. 

[00:10:20] Kamille Parks: They don't have that many update steps, so maybe they did just do that for the month. Yeah, they tricked us. How dare I

[00:10:33] Russell Bishop: wonder what the application for this is? 

[00:10:37] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah, that's the, it's like, is it for maybe an internal CRM and just leads or things? I don't know. He didn't say that, but. I thought that was kind of neat to doing. All

[00:10:54] right. Next we have a I don't know, kind of a thought. It says maybe no code [00:11:00] was a misnomer. Everything is a little bit low code. I'm building more in Zapier, Retool, lately, but they all need custom scripts to do what I want. And, you know, I thought, I think there's probably a balance. You can do a lot of things, but you will run into.

[00:11:20] Some things that you kind of have to go outside of it. 

[00:11:25] Russell Bishop: It's, it's a low barrier to entry, right? That's, that's more the point of it. You can create something of value with no code, but as Zach has found, the more advanced and specific to your workflow you want to get, you might end up doing some scripting.

[00:11:40] Kamille Parks: Yeah, you can get really far with, all of those tools, except for retool without coding anything, barring something like a formula, right? I mean, if we want to get philosophical about it. 

[00:11:53] Other: Yeah. 

[00:11:53] Kamille Parks: Technically the formula is also scripting. It's just a very specific scripting language. But other than that, like Airtable [00:12:00] and Coda, although Coda has some fairly complex things that you could build in it, you can get started without coding.

[00:12:06] And the same thing with Zapier. Retool is kind of, it is effectively, God, I am blanking. JavaScript framework. What is it? React. It's a, it's technically a react app builder, like at its core. That's what it's doing. And you kind of, you kind of have to script right from the get go to use it. Although you can place things on the page without them doing anything, if that makes sense.

[00:12:35] Yeah. But like with all of these, the low and low code is making it so that you could build something without coding, not necessarily the thing that you want, because, 

[00:12:48] Other: you 

[00:12:48] Kamille Parks: know, the more you want, obviously, the more that the makers of Airtable and Coda, et cetera, had to think ahead to guess every possible use case.

[00:12:58] And I [00:13:00] mean, they're not psychic and they probably never will. 

[00:13:03] Russell Bishop: Yeah, but essentially you mentioned the date dependency stuff coming in that's replaced a lot of what people would have been writing about before, right? So you do have those extra features which takes away from the need to build custom, but I'm sure people are already now adding scripts on top of how date dependencies work to get it to exactly fit.

[00:13:22] Exactly. 

[00:13:23] Kamille Parks: It's a great point. I mean, they kind of wait for users to tell them what they want by their actions, kind of like see what people are building and find the common denominator and then build that as a core feature. 

[00:13:35] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. Yeah. Another comment in here, he said he is using retool to build internal tools.

[00:13:42] So he obviously already kind of has that you know, he knows how he's a developer. And so he's probably even more like, automatically will lean a little bit more towards, Oh, well, it starts with this, but I could add this and this to it. And so that's probably [00:14:00] something else to keep in mind too. Yeah. 

[00:14:04] Alli Alosa: No, I liked at Dare Table, there was something when, when Airtable presented, they talked about one of their goals being having a low floor, but a high ceiling, so it, it's kind of corporate speak, but I like the meaning of it where it's, you know, you can get in at the ground level and figure some stuff out, but if you need to scale it, you have the ability to get more advanced.

[00:14:26] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah.

[00:14:30] Okay. Moving on to the built on air slack community. Oh, look, and it's actually our own Russell who made this comment. So, you were featured. So this is the new feature. You can talk to us a little bit about this about a user being able to select grouping in interfaces. 

[00:14:51] Russell Bishop: Yeah, I think this is very cool.

[00:14:54] I'm surprised that it's taken so long for it to come [00:15:00] out. But essentially what this feature means is that anywhere that you display data that can show in groups, including things like timelines, surprisingly, the group control is now visible and can be changed by the end user. That second screenshot there showing you that you can toggle that on and off, which is really helpful.

[00:15:17] Often you'll have to make two interfaces or views so you can group things by Two different ways, kind of like pivoting on a different axis. So this actually lets users do that themselves, which I think is a real time save only annoying thing about this. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but it was turned on by default in everything that I'd ever made, because I usually like to hide the controls that we don't need by default, right?

[00:15:40] Cause it's noise, but so now everything has group next to, So that's one way of releasing the feature, right? Just throw it in everyone's face. 

[00:15:49] Kamille Parks: I could see why they would do that, but I think that they shouldn't have. Ideally, I feel like one of two things might've, might've been a better approach. One, have [00:16:00] it off by default and make an announcement that this is now a feature, but you know, sometimes it takes forever for people to notice that new things are there, unless it's like right in their face.

[00:16:11] Or alternatively. Enable it by default if you had sort enabled for the end user, like. If you notice that none of the end user controls are on, well, don't throw group in there. But if you had sort already enabled, maybe you put it on those like those I think would have been better approaches than like globally adding it just because it same thing.

[00:16:35] I had some where I didn't let anyone sort or filter, but you could group differently. And so it was a little weird that you could do that. 

[00:16:45] Other: Yeah, 

[00:16:48] Alli Alosa: now I want the ability for list views to be able to summarize. Like have a summary row like you can in grid and in timeline. 

[00:16:55] Other: I 

[00:16:58] Alli Alosa: love the way the list view looks, [00:17:00] but it's missing some of those features.

[00:17:02] Russell Bishop: At that point, aren't we just choosing like the style of that data almost? But you just want to, you could make grids look more like lists and vice versa, right? It is just, it has a background color in gray, each nesting level is lighter or darker. Because I agree, I, I have clients who are like, but we love how the list looks, but we do need the summary.

[00:17:24] So you end up doing silly workarounds. 

[00:17:28] Kamille Parks: It's, it's one of those things where like the, the true differentiator in terms of functionality that the list view ads is the hierarchy bit, which grid doesn't do. But if you want, if you need that summary, like if you're building a financial dashboard or something, you want to see the sum of the group or the total, and you can't do that in a list.

[00:17:50] So it's, it's one of those things where it's good that you can switch which visualization you're looking at. For the end user, you [00:18:00] can have that toggle have a predefined grid and a list, but it would sure be great if you didn't need both. And the fact that grid is missing from the create new page, you kind of have to do it after you've created the page, something into a grid suggests to me that they want to get rid of grid, or they keep.

[00:18:20] Forgetting it, which I feel like it's sort of them pushing people towards list, but we're going to keep wanting grid for as long as there's stuff in grid that there isn't in list. Yeah. 

[00:18:35] Russell Bishop: And there's also, there's also that fixed left hand like primary field, right. That sticks with grid, which is quite helpful, but you don't get that in list.

[00:18:42] There's all these, like one thing missing in the other that you'd actually just kind of want to have available in all of them. Russell, you're going to love my segment. Oh, excellent. 

[00:18:51] Kamille Parks: Can't wait. 

[00:18:53] Hannah Wiginton: So Justin here says I want to be able to have independent field visibility on list pages with [00:19:00] tabs.

[00:19:00] Currently, each tab has the same fields. That'd be great. 

[00:19:04] Kamille Parks: We are inching closer to a world in which personal views are like replicated into interface because in the full page, like interface things or not even like across the board with interface pages, you can have a predefined set of filters and now sorts and now groups and then the end user can go in and adjust them.

[00:19:27] That doesn't affect but the field visibility is still set by the, the builder, that's the sort of missing piece in terms of completely replicating what you can do in a personal view in the data tab. 

[00:19:43] Alli Alosa: Yeah, yeah. And I'd love to be able to show like to Justin's point, like, if you have two tabs, that's like incomplete tasks and then completed tasks.

[00:19:53] And if you have like date complete, for example, I don't need the date complete on the incomplete tab. [00:20:00] I just need it on the complete one. Nice to have for sure. 

[00:20:06] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. Maybe they'll get there a little at a time. 

[00:20:11] Russell Bishop: That's the slogan of this show, isn't it? 

[00:20:13] Hannah Wiginton: Maybe. Yeah. Okay. So next up, just a shout out to our The built on air community and slack.

[00:20:23] We're all in the built on air community. Our pictures are all on here. So join us, just go to built on air. com. You can be part of the community. Has lots of great air table questions and lots of great information. Okay. Moving on. I thought this was a good tip, nerdy air table automations, and y'all will have to give your, Opinion on this.

[00:20:49] Add a number to single select fields that represent a sequence of events. So like tasks or things like that to, you know, basically [00:21:00] label them go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and your tasks and maybe helps keep it in order a little more. Do y'all do that or what do you think about that? I sometimes number my 

[00:21:13] Alli Alosa: automations if they're part of a big like process.

[00:21:19] And I do use single selects to trigger those automations. So this might be nice to, I mean, it's kind of, it, maybe it makes it a lot easier for the, for somebody else to step in if like you're handing it off to a client or. You're working on a team and someone else needs to make an edit to your automation.

[00:21:38] It's, it definitely makes it easier to follow. 

[00:21:42] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. He referred, he talked about referring to step numbers and documentation and using that number in the code. So I guess essentially if the task changes slightly, maybe the number won't, [00:22:00] but something to think about.

[00:22:07] Okay. Next up, this one just popped up this morning and so wanted to talk about it. Jen noticed when she was, I guess, creating an email automation and she was pulling in the find records and it actually let you choose, I guess, the page. From the interface.

[00:22:31] Kamille Parks: Oh yeah. So there's an option to like open this record. And so like in the before times, your only option was like the, the record URL. So base ID slash table ID, record ID, and then interfaces came along and then there were detailed pages and then there was like, okay, which detail page do you want to go to?

[00:22:55] And I think that's what this is. 

[00:22:58] Hannah Wiginton: Okay. [00:23:00] Okay, so you can choose that instead of having to use the URL. You 

[00:23:04] Alli Alosa: can choose the, well, this is a find record. 

[00:23:08] Russell Bishop: Yeah, this is when you're using the data from your find, right? So when you want to insert something from that find, you can insert the page to get in via. I thought this was a configuration for a find record set for a second.

[00:23:19] Yeah, I did 

[00:23:19] Other: too. 

[00:23:20] Russell Bishop: Yeah, so it's open this record in my project interface. 

[00:23:24] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah, I got 

[00:23:25] Alli Alosa: really excited for a second I was thinking something I've wanted for so long is like if you have an interface and the end user has that filtered a certain way and you want them to be able to like, click a button that's like, do something with these records that are in front of me as the end user right now.

[00:23:43] That would be amazing. Like, that's, that's kind of where my mind went immediately. And then I was like, Oh, nevermind. That's it. Not actually as useful. But yeah, that would be a really huge cool thing I could do a lot with.[00:24:00] 

[00:24:00] Hannah Wiginton: Okay. Next up, this was, I think this is Kamille, maybe part of. What you were talking about. Well, we talked about, okay. Group descriptions, can now be inline or tooltips, view based groups cannot be set to auto group. Layouts can now have vertical columns and groups can now be set to editable or view only.

[00:24:31] So it looks like just some more refreshed record review page. 

[00:24:37] Kamille Parks: So that's what I'll be going over later. There's kind of a lot in here and one of those was a turbo, so, so it says cannot be set to auto. It's can now be set to auto. So previously grid elements on detail pages and then the equivalent for record layout we're like really small.

[00:24:58] You can now set it to be [00:25:00] taller is basically all, all that saying which is good. Okay. And then I'll go over some of the, nuances with the new, like drag and drop component. And then, yeah, we also talked about how end users can now group as well as sort and filter, et cetera. 

[00:25:19] Hannah Wiginton: Awesome. Okay, perfect.

[00:25:23] Okay. And then the last one I discovered this one. I don't know if it's been discussed before, but someone. Asked about using the slack channel is basically a user interface to an air table base and Scott, said, use this tool called data fetch that basically in slack, you can type in a query and it will return air table records that match.

[00:25:49] What you're looking for. So it's like in chat data for slack, which seems pretty unique. I don't, [00:26:00] I thought that was kind of neat to be able to just find something by typing in into slack. 

[00:26:07] Alli Alosa: That is interesting. 

[00:26:08] Russell Bishop: I think it's really cool. There's, there's plenty of workflows that end in send this notification or report to slack.

[00:26:15] So it makes sense that someone who's there expecting that they're receiving data can also ask questions about it or get other information. makes sense. Lots of people want this AI chatbot that understands all of your data in the base and can tell you things about it. So this is just another way of sending your query.

[00:26:33] Hannah Wiginton: Yeah. Yeah. It seems like a pretty neat tool to be able to connect. So check that one out. I haven't seen it 

[00:26:39] Russell Bishop: done though. I'd love to see a demo. 

[00:26:42] Kamille Parks: I'm podcast. I might be hallucinating much like AI, but I think we've seen, I think we have. I know is a different thing on the podcast, but I'm [00:27:00] pretty sure we've seen either that, or I've had my own demo and I'm, I'm misremembering where I saw.

[00:27:08] Hannah Wiginton: Okay, awesome. Well, cool tool. If you want to be able to communicate with your air table data in Slack or Microsoft teams. Okay. That's it for around the bases. So we are. Going to talk about our sponsor, Onto Air Backups. 

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[00:28:16] MEET THE EXPERT - RUSSELL BISHOP - 00:28:18

[00:28:19] Okay. Up next, we get to meet the expert Russell and, we Kamille is going to interview him and we're going to learn more about Russell and all that he is doing. So let me switch over here.

[00:28:39] Kamille Parks: Hello. Okay. Hello again, Kamille. Welcome back to the show. You are one of our many people who are in the built on air Slack community. And you are one of those people who always has like interesting observations about air table. And I just, [00:29:00] for our viewers. Want to see how did you come across Airtable in the first place?

[00:29:07] Russell Bishop: So I used to work at a UX UI design agency based in London called Lighthouse And we had a problem with our resourcing internally where grew to a stage where we didn't know what everyone was working on and the CEO At the time she turned to me in the office and said, how can we find out what people are working on at the moment?

[00:29:30] And we built a few different solutions and spreadsheets and some other stuff that does a pretty good job. Harvest, for example, does some sort of resourcing and forecasting. And eventually he found Airtable and said, This looks like it might be able to build anything for us, so maybe that's a good option.

[00:29:47] And myself and the CTO at the time were a bit too snobby about the idea that you could build your own software, like WYSIWYG essentially, and thought there's no way that that would ever be capable [00:30:00] enough of this. History tells us that actually I was quite wrong.

[00:30:12] And I kind of built out a, an operating system for our business in air table, which pretty much ran everything. So yeah, it's it certainly came quite viral what we were doing at that company. 

[00:30:24] Kamille Parks: Whizzy wig brought me back.

[00:30:29] Russell Bishop: But, you know, the, the idea that with no codes, no technical experience you could build a, a business. product that people can use for everyday work seemed like you know, we were going to get something rubbish that no one would enjoy and it would be thrown away. But yeah, lo and behold, I was very wrong.

[00:30:46] Kamille Parks: Well, I think there, there's something to be said about that. A, when you're moving from one system to another. Whether it's technology or it's a manual process, there's always this, like, well, I mean, it kind of works now, so [00:31:00] there's a, you're always going to be comparing A to B and there's going to be, I'm sure there were things that you couldn't do, especially when you first started with Airtable before they added a lot of more recent feature sets.

[00:31:12] And so it's. It's, it's always, I think, an interesting process to really look at what do you need right now in order to move forward and whether or not your software of choice, in this case, Airtable meets those needs. 

[00:31:29] Russell Bishop: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And then the magic happens where you realize that you've built some set of master data, and that is information that you want to reuse across lots of different things.

[00:31:39] So to do resourcing, we need a list of all the people in the business and what their availability is. And then we need what projects we're working on and who the clients are behind this project. So with a master list, that information, it's obvious that you would then go, you know, I'll add on next tool here, or here's a forecast of our revenue, because Because we know what people are going to be doing for the next six months.

[00:31:59] So [00:32:00] yeah, I think that's, that's how it sticks. And that is the magic thing that happens. That you don't really get with other tools where, you know, the feature set is the feature set, right? Yeah. 

[00:32:12] Kamille Parks: So you were saying you were kind of working with other SaaS tools, so it may not be as much the case, but we see a lot of people move from things that are straight spreadsheets into Airtable and doing things a spreadsheet kind of way.

[00:32:27] Without kind of adjusting the thinking to be more of a database kind of way, the way Airtable is structured. Did you have a process like that as well, even though you were already using like a SAS tool? 

[00:32:41] Russell Bishop: A process for starting or just what software we're using. 

[00:32:45] Kamille Parks: The version one of whatever you guys were building before was built a certain way to fit that SASS and then moving into Airtable.

[00:32:54] Surely something had to change. And I was curious what that 

[00:32:57] Russell Bishop: was. Actually, so of [00:33:00] the things we tried, the version that stuck around the longest was a spreadsheet, which was not, we didn't usually build a lot of things in spreadsheets to manage our work. We would rather pay a subscription, try the trial of a piece of software.

[00:33:12] Yeah. The spreadsheet worked the best because we could customize. You could do whatever you like in a spreadsheet, so it can fit exactly how we want to display that information. So yeah, that definitely I think that's why that worked for us for the longest time because it was structured how we wanted it to.

[00:33:28] But yeah, before that we would, you know, find the right Sass tool for the job, like all of our Asana because Asana is very, very good at managing tasks. That's what it does, but you can't build on top of Asana in quite the same way. 

[00:33:44] Kamille Parks: So now that you're fully ensconced in the world of Airtable, Very much so.

[00:33:50] There's there's a lot of different builds that start on Airtable or like are centered around Airtable, but still use a lot of other [00:34:00] SaaS tools and platforms, and we talk endlessly about Zapier and make integrations, and just curious, do you have a preferred, like, connector to any other apps that you might need?

[00:34:14] Russell Bishop: Yeah, so I have I have dived into this world a bit more than when I last spoke to you guys. I started a consultancy late last year called mass. For almost all of the project put together, the ethos is to try and hand off the most simple tech stack as possible to clients, which I'm sure everyone's, you know, thinking is towards this, but it is very easy to throw as many other tools at it as possible, because often that's a good shortcut.

[00:34:41] On the make versus Zapier endless argument. We do use make but generally there's a lot of stuff that you can do just working with API's in a script in air table. That means you don't actually need to sell a series of scenarios because you don't really want to leave your client with three sets of [00:35:00] logins.

[00:35:00] Three sets of subscriptions, you know, where, where possible, it's better to simplify that stuff. It's less support, that kind of thing. But yeah, when, when needed for OAuth and, and anything that's slightly more complicated yeah, we'll, we'll assign something like make, because it is, it is, it is, Capable for that kind of stuff.

[00:35:19] Kamille Parks: I do like that ethos though of delivering a, a product that works, but be a product that is relatively simple for whomever you're building it for to actually operate because it can have a thousand bells and whistles. But if you don't know how to whistle, it's kind of hard to maintain over time.

[00:35:40] Russell Bishop: Exactly. And they're all, you know, this is software development and that is a dependency, right? So you should be trying to pay down your dependencies. Otherwise that will be more expensive over time. 

[00:35:50] Kamille Parks: Awesome. So I believe you have something that you'd like to show us. 

[00:35:57] Russell Bishop: Yeah, I realized today that i'm i'm never [00:36:00] here showing you a project that has any business relevance to anyone It is always like a fun thing that I think that's the only stuff that hannah picks up on Hey, 

[00:36:12] Hannah Wiginton: we have it's great and we have Multifaceted Russell, 

[00:36:18] Russell Bishop: Yes, I will let me let 

[00:36:21] Hannah Wiginton: me switch over real quick.


[00:36:27] We're going to do a base showcase with Russell here. So 

[00:36:37] Russell Bishop: let's make sure I've got the right browser. Okay. Okay, it took me quite a while to figure out how best to explain this to everyone, but here goes nothing. So, in a past life before I had children I used to DJ and mix music. And if you mix music [00:37:00] on Like you do hardware you essentially need to own all of your music and even to this day You still need a library of mp3s that you are purchasing and collecting over many years Mine is to this date 15 years old We probably all at some point had that Phase of taking all of your cds from cd racks and burning them into itunes or something similar And then probably quite a few years ago at this point you decided that you no longer needed to maintain that library anymore and you use a streaming service for Ten dollars a month and you look back on this world, but I haven't left that world.

[00:37:36] I'm still here because I still need that that library of music partly for archive purposes partly because some of it just isn't available on streaming platforms and I've spent a lot of money on it but the problem with having a library of mp3 files is that it's actually quite hard to stream them there's there's a few piece of software in this space that do pretty well [00:38:00] Some of the job that I wanted to do but again, it's not exactly how I want to manage my music library And we're in the business of doing things exactly how you want them to so I have put together a vanity project which i've i've had for a few years now called airwaves and essentially what it allows me to do Is stream those mp3 files from google drive, which is my file storage to any Browser connected device.

[00:38:26] Essentially. It's just a javascript front end, which I'll go on to in a second a bit of background as to how I got here So I think it was 2021 when I started thinking about this idea And my initial proof of concept for how this would work was I put an html audio tag on a page And I set the source to be a file in google drive and clicked on Play And luckily for me it started playing the file now that's a [00:39:00] lot of hard work that I didn't need to do when building a media player Which is that I have a player knows how to stream mp3s I can play and pause And you get a lot of freebies as well So when you play any audio source like this in your phone or desktop or it's playing for a device in your car All of your media controls are run through the navigator api Which means that when you press play or pause on a device it will actually play Play and pause it as it's supposed to.

[00:39:25] All of these things that you don't have to build bespoke which is particularly helpful with, you know, probably one of those daunting things to think about with audio files is how to actually work. With them, but you get a lot of that for free just with good old html tags so then I mocked up what that would look like Maybe whether I needed it as an extension or at the time it was a block in air table and whether I could have it sitting alongside the records or how that might work but of course putting it actually within air table means that accessing it on other devices like the [00:40:00] mobile app or web browser for Airtable isn't great.

[00:40:03] And it was kind of adding some unnecessary complexity there. So my eventual decision was that I needed to have a front end in the browser that I could use and access the music from there. A bit more process. These are some sketches I did early on when I got excited about this idea when I realized actually I could design this thing.

[00:40:23] The background is in design, so it's nice to be able to wireframe these things out now that I know it's possible. And then from there I started doing some design work and thinking about what the styling of this would be. Again, all of this. I would like to remind you, it's just a product for me that could never scale to any other people.

[00:40:43] It would be impossible to do so, wouldn't make any sense to do so, but I put a lot of effort for it into a one person product because I got excited about it. So The tech stack and how it works. This is the current version. It [00:41:00] has had some much more convoluted, versions before, but I'll explain it to you now.

[00:41:04] So essentially there is file storage, which is Google drive, which is where all of the MP3s sit in a folder with a series of subfolders, just like again, how iTunes organizes your music into a series of folders by artists name. I have a node app. which I can send an mp3 file to, it will read the metadata, figure out who the artist is, what the album is cuts the album artwork off of the end of it and exports it as a jpeg and is able to send that back to Airtable.

[00:41:35] Airtable is the library of all tracks, artists, albums, and playlists, and obviously, you know, it's a relational database, so we're linking all that stuff together to describe who's the artist of this, this track. And finally, there's a JavaScript front end, which is pretty simple to us. I'll show you in a second, which just allows me to read from the API that table has and [00:42:00] search through certain tables in those entries.

[00:42:01] If I want to search for a track, I can use a search bar in there to find it. It also manages a queue. So essentially, whenever I play a song, I wrote some JavaScript that will then find the other songs in that album and add them to the queue. Then it will find other tracks by the same artists and add them to the queue.

[00:42:18] So essentially, it will just keep loading in music for me that's similar to what I'm doing. What I started playing in the first place

[00:42:28] There's some minutiae around how I deal with zip files and raw files. So the reason for this is that if you buy an album off of something like bandcamp, they will give you a zip file for you to use And typically it's quite annoying if I do that on my phone to then need a desktop computer to unzip it and put it in the right folder.

[00:42:49] So essentially I have this like tumbling set of scenarios where a raw file gets converted to a zip. The zip then gets converted and unarchived to a series of mp3 files. They [00:43:00] get sent into Airtable, Airtable then sends that to Node to process the mp3s, Node sends those back to Airtable as a track, and finally, Make will then sort them into the right folder.

[00:43:14] So because I now know the artist, because some of the automations in Airtable will figure out who the artists are, it will then find or create, a folder in Google Drive with that host name and organize the mp3 into that folder. So it does actually self organize now, which is quite fun. Again, one person project.

[00:43:35] One user, I do want to remind everyone of this. Some gotchas some stuff that might actually be relevant or useful to people to understand here so I do use the google drive synced table, which is the only project i've ever actually used it on I can't use it for all of the files because it has a maximum of 10 000 files and I have 16 000 [00:44:00] in my library so instead what I do is I use a specific subfolder In my google drive called new, it's actually underscore news.

[00:44:09] It's always at the top of my music folder and any songs that I buy, I put into that folder. And that is what's triggering some of these automations to say there's a new file, a zip file or mp3, send it off to be processed or convert it for us. So actually new music essentially empties out as the processes are run.

[00:44:28] So usually that is an empty tab because all the music's been processed. So it's kind of a sneaky way of using Google Drive to trigger automations. A much older version of this Used some Google Sheets scripting by a very talented developer. I worked with on Upwork to trigger when a new file was found But that meant keeping another version of the database with a series of IDs.

[00:44:53] It was a bit nuts But yeah, this little work ground means I can actually use the Google Drive integration. It's [00:45:00] much much simpler 

[00:45:02] Other: That's awesome. 

[00:45:03] Russell Bishop: Any questions before, before I continue? Just 

[00:45:08] Hannah Wiginton: do 

[00:45:09] Russell Bishop: your thing, that's all. 

[00:45:12] Hannah Wiginton: I like that you can use Google Drive with it. Like, it's already all in there and you're just sending it through and, like, automating, especially that zip process, like, unzipping it and turning it back into, that's, that's super awesome.

[00:45:26] Put it in a folder and then it's processed. 

[00:45:28] Russell Bishop: Yeah, it's made it much simpler. It sounds really, really silly, but like the process of trying to find the folder with an artist's name that starts with R is very far down the alphabet and I would literally on my phone have to scroll for ages to get there.

[00:45:45] So that's, that's actually why I ended up doing this because I realized like, I just need to dump this somewhere and let the robots do the rest of the work. So luckily we did that. The automations are quite simple. Essentially we read the [00:46:00] metadata and then figure out who the artists are and link them through to a certain table.

[00:46:05] It will do things like if it realizes an artist is twice in the metadata then it will remove one example of it. So it doesn't have like a repeat in the, in the file name. And the last silly trick is that every track is linked to a sing. record in a table which has a total and the reason for that is because when I shuffle you need to know how many tracks there are in the database to be able to say like get me a random number between one and something.

[00:46:32] So I link every track to a single record so that I have this number that I can reuse. So some other, some other silly hacks that make it work. And this is the final thing. I don't think, I think if I press the only thing it might, oh no, maybe you wouldn't be able to hear it. Is there sound?

[00:46:52] You don't need sound. I think that would be a bad thing. We believe you that it's playing. So, yeah, this is [00:47:00] the so I've just prayed Thank you. I just played one song and it then loads in all of the related album and then other examples of that artist's music. So it will just keep playing through and through.

[00:47:13] Hannah Wiginton: Now do you ever use this, like, play, play your own shuffle, like, while you're working and turn that on and 

[00:47:19] Russell Bishop: just roll through it? All the time, all the time it is playing most of the day which probably I guess warrants the amount of effort I've put into it. But yeah, I do have a Spotify subscription, but I mostly mostly play music through this.

[00:47:35] Hannah Wiginton: Oh, that's awesome. 

[00:47:38] Russell Bishop: Yeah, 

[00:47:39] Kamille Parks: there we go. I got nothing. The things 

[00:47:45] Hannah Wiginton: we build when we figure out how to build them. Yeah, I get it. 

[00:47:53] Russell Bishop: Yeah. Love it. The worst is it's not even finished. There's, there's plenty [00:48:00] of other things I want to do with it, which is probably the sadder part of it. There we go. Hobbyists, eh? 

[00:48:06] Hannah Wiginton: Well, that's awesome.

[00:48:07] Thank you for showcasing that. And maybe it will inspire someone else to build out their own library and use Airtable to store everything and showcase it. That's awesome. 

[00:48:19] Russell Bishop: Godspeed.

[00:48:23] Hannah Wiginton: Awesome. Well, thank you, Russell. All right. 

[00:48:26] BUILTONAIR COMMUNITY - 00:48:26

[00:48:27] Up next just a shout out to the Built On Air community. It's the an awesome community. If you love Airtable and automation come join it. We have lots of great people in there. If you have questions about Airtable or things you're working on or need even someone to bounce ideas off of, there's a lot of great people in there who can talk with you about it and give you ideas and advice.

[00:48:53] And I'd love to have you join us. Just go to builtonair. com and you can join the community for [00:49:00] free.


[00:49:07] All right, up next we have Kamille who is going to go over the new record reviews and showcase what all about it. So, 

[00:49:20] Kamille Parks: all right, Kamille. There's so much to go over that I made an interface about this interface with a series of features that I noticed that are either added or removed and then I'm going to do my best to go over some of the nuances because there's a lot of things you know, personal opinion aside, some would find minimal and some would find a major.

[00:49:46] So I've highlighted certain features that are probably very important to somebody. And then other features where I feel like may not have been noticed that are missing, [00:50:00] if that makes sense. So, what we're currently looking at is the new record review layout. It looks Largely similar to the previous or the legacy version of this layout.

[00:50:13] Something to note when you create an interface page, you cannot at this time of recording, select the legacy version. It was the same thing with. record detail pages. They later went back and added a convert to legacy option. It's possible that they might do that with this depending on public outcry. So, you know, listen to the following and determine how much of an issue this is.

[00:50:38] Note that there are some things missing with this addition, but several things were added. So, while it looks very similar, some of the things that carry over from the newer version of interface pages, like the full page, I'm going to call them data view layouts, the full page grid, the full page calendar, etc.,

[00:50:59] [00:51:00] are the notion of either tabs or drop downs. I find this pretty useful. So, if I wanted to go to just the things that I have highlighted. This will think for a second because I didn't reload the page since yesterday but now I have a filtered subset of things here. The other thing that is brought over from the full page, record data view layout is the ability to export this thing as CSV.

[00:51:31] I'm not sure if you would ever really need that, but you could download this list of CSV and it would look exactly how you want it to. Anticipate in the legacy and the current version, you could have up to three fields displayed here as well as an attachment field. All of those would be exported with C.

[00:51:48] S. V. If you were to click this feature, you could also print whatever page you're currently looking at this one or print all features. I'm going to preview and hopefully that shows up on the screen. [00:52:00] In my opinion, this looks Pretty bad. Or at least buggy is perhaps how I would describe it, but it is a feature that is there.

[00:52:10] So eventually it might look better. I don't know if you guys can see this. The print window that came up. 

[00:52:17] Russell Bishop: No, we just got the great page finder. 

[00:52:19] Kamille Parks: Nope. Nevermind. Well, try it for yourself. I think it looks a little odd, but the paint breaks her off and sometimes it doesn't like the color of your base kind of shows up in the right hand sidebar.

[00:52:30] I don't know. But that is a feature that was added eventually. Hopefully that ends up looking better. So some of the features that are useful as part of this update. If you had a linked record to whatever record you've clicked on from the sidebar, you can do several things with the linked records themselves, mainly displaying them as a link.

[00:52:58] Data view, which you [00:53:00] could have done on legacy, but you also have the ability to have all the end user controls like sort group and filter directly on there. Something that is fairly nuanced in the legacy version, you could add new records. By clicking the plus or via a form, but you couldn't link and unlink existing records.

[00:53:23] That wasn't a thing. You can do that with the new version. That is a very minute addition that I think would take a lot of people a very long time to notice. Unless they spent several hours like I did looking at two of them side by side. Something that is also, I think a pretty big deal, but might not be Like, immediately obvious, although you can filter, the linked records and I'll go to a different, tab.

[00:53:55] This is like, this is a real interface that I use with all fake [00:54:00] data. This is the legacy version of the layout. And something that you could do previously was filter everything on the page with one, with one filter element. So that filters this grid, it filters this number, it filters this chart.

[00:54:23] If I go to the new version, I could filter this grid, because the filter is baked right on it, but I can't filter this chart. I can put a chart there, but I can't filter the chart. So that's something that's missing. And I also can't put numbers on the new record review layout. This is a regular roll up field, but because it's a roll up field, I can't filter on top of that.

[00:54:49] So if I wanted to see the total amount of bills, I have no way of doing that. With a rollup, so they're not exactly one-to-one match in terms of functionality. [00:55:00] Obviously the background color is something that is like immediately noticeable as the difference between a rollup and a number, but to me the more like critical missing piece of that is the ability to filter it in the first place.

[00:55:14] So. That's an issue or at least an issue in, from my perspective. Something that I do like I mentioned before, you could either have drop downs or tabs for this real interface that I use. I had had two different pages, one for annual reporting and one for monthly reporting. With this consolidated one, I could just do this.

[00:55:41] Now. What is the difference between having a consolidated page versus multiple different pages? That means I don't have to design this chart twice. I can design one page and have it be the same. I also now have access to conditional visibility. So if I wanted [00:56:00] certain elements on the page to be slightly different, whether I'm doing an annual report or a monthly report, because the new Record review layout has access to conditional visibility.

[00:56:13] That's something I can do without having to design two entirely separate pages. If everything else is supposed to be the same, something to note, you cannot conditionally hide. A chart by itself, you can hide individual fields by themselves, but you can't hide the chart by itself. What you would have to do is hide the whole group that the chart sits in.

[00:56:40] I think that's a little bit of an odd omission. I wish it weren't the case. But if you wanted to hide the chart, you would have to hide the whole group. Huh. Yeah. Yep.

[00:56:55] So I'm just saying so neither the [00:57:00] legacy nor the current version of the record review layout are mobile ready. I suspect the new one will eventually be mobile ready. It's just not today. The reason why I suspected it will be is because record Detail pages, the new ones are mobile ready for the most part.

[00:57:20] So, and this is, it works the same way. Like what we're seeing here is effectively a record detail page, but with this added thing on the side. So I think eventually. We're probably going to see it for mobile readiness. They have not said that. That is me guessing, predictable and pre fillable URLs is something that I wanted to highlight because if I go back to a legacy, layout, you can hopefully see in my URL you will never be able to guess what [00:58:00] the unique ID for this thing is this record selector because it's random, but you would, once you know what it is, you could do equals and then pre fill it with a URL.

[00:58:10] or the record ID, I should say. And that would allow you to, like, predictably put this URL into an email or something that says, open up here. Now with this new version, you can do the same thing. So that is nice. By contrast, record detail pages are fairly obscured. They're, they they have like an encoding on them.

[00:58:36] That makes it hard to guess what the URL will actually be to pre fill it without some use of a script. But I will say, if you start to filter this thing. Hold on, if I filter this, then it starts to become obscured again. So, it's, it's predictable in a way, but [00:59:00] also not. So, something to consider.

[00:59:04] Something that is also lost with this new version is the sticky header. So, if I. Scroll on this legacy version, you'll see 2024, all of this stuff stays up at the top, but in the new version, it doesn't. So that is something that I miss. I like having the title of the record I'm looking at stay at the top, as well as if I had any buttons up here, I would like those buttons to be at the top as well.

[00:59:33] That is not something that you can currently do with the new layout. Unconstrained non field element placement. I had no idea what to call this feature. What I mean by that is in the legacy version of the record layout, Record review layout, as well as the old record detail pages, you could put [01:00:00] a lot of different elements virtually anywhere.

[01:00:03] I say virtually because you couldn't put a number element up here and you couldn't put a chart element up here, but you could put them roughly anywhere else. In the new version, you can't, you can put less things in the header and the header doesn't stick. Okay. And you can't put buttons anywhere you want.

[01:00:23] You can put buttons there, but you can't put them, like, in this space here. Now, because you can put a chart in the same place you can put fields, maybe it's possible that they're eventually going to add the same placement options for buttons. They have not said that, so that is a guess. But, because we now have four buttons, Columns available for groups.

[01:00:48] I think they're leaning more towards greater like placement flexibility than what we've previously seen with these new layouts. And then [01:01:00] something that is like really, really, I don't think I've seen anyone else note this. I could be wrong, but in the old layout, you could have the record comments element, but you couldn't add a record revision history.

[01:01:19] That wasn't an option. For the new layout, you have the option of adding one or both. So if you wanted to display revision history, you could. So that is a thing that is new. Added with this new thing, and then I'm nowhere at time. I'm scrolling if there's anything major that I, that I am missing. I think the last one that I like is a feature is the ability to download these as CSVs.

[01:01:53] It's something that we routinely get asked for for some of the, some of the Interface pages that [01:02:00] I end up building is they want to be able to export as a CSV, but they always have to go back to the data view in order to do it. You can now do it more directly from here. Technically, there is an option also to print all of these records as well.

[01:02:14] I have it enabled for this thing. It is currently bugged. So even if you say, yes, allow them to print, you are not given the option to actually do so. I don't know why, but allegedly it is something that you should be able to do. 

[01:02:32] Hannah Wiginton: Awesome. Well, that's a great overview of all those new features. It's not even all of 

[01:02:38] Kamille Parks: them.

[01:02:38] There's more. 

[01:02:39] Hannah Wiginton: Yes. Well, I love that. They add some new ones. I hate that sometimes they take away stuff. So Wish they, you know, do that, but that's a great overview of all the new features. So be sure and check that out in your air [01:03:00] table base. Thank you, Kamille for showcasing all of that. And we are at time today.

[01:03:06] So thank you all for being here for the podcast and be sure and join the built on air community. And at built on air. com and say hi to all of us. And thanks a lot. Bye. Bye. Bye.

[01:03:37] Thank you for joining today's episode. We hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out our sponsor onto our backups, automated backups for air table. We'll see you next time on the built on air podcast.