Airtable Review

Airtable is a solid, interesting project management tool that blends database and spreadsheet elements together into a slick, easy-to-use interface. See what makes this tool stand out from the competition in our full Airtable review.

By Nicole Brooks – Writer
— Last Updated:
2020-08-17T16:03:24+00:00
Starts from $ 1000 per month
Free plan available (All Plans)
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Airtable is a reinvention of the classic spreadsheet method of tracking projects. It does a great job at blending together old-school spreadsheets, such as Google Sheets, with modern management in a slick user interface. It also has a few unique features that make it worth checking out.

In this Airtable review, we’ll explore all its features and test its usability. You’ll learn if its pricing is on par with its competitors and if its security is trustworthy. Then we’ll tell you our verdict of whether you should try Airtable or not.

We’ll give you a sneak peek of the verdict: monday.com is still the king of managing your projects. Airtable’s issues with support and its cost per month prevented it from dethroning our number-one project management tool. Check out our monday.com review if you’d like to know why it’s the best.

However, Airtable did make our list of best project management software, so it’s no slouch. If you’d like to test Airtable before paying for the service, it also offers a 14-day free trial. It can’t hurt to make a few projects and see if this management app is for you. 

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Wide range of custom field types
  • Community-based templates
  • Solid security
  • Unique “blocks” feature

Weaknesses:

  • Limited support options
  • A little expensive

Alternatives for Airtable

Features

90 % – Excellent

Airtable functions as a spreadsheet-database hybrid. Although other management apps are used mostly for task management, Airtable has a ton of flexibility built in with its custom fields and blocks.

Similar to spreadsheet software, its main view is a table. Multiple tables can be organized into a base, and multiple bases can be organized into a workspace. This high level of compartmentalization can make it easy to get organized, but also easy to get lost.

The program’s kanban view is reminiscent of Trello (see our Trello overview). It also offers a calendar view for any dates or date ranges you add to a record. We were surprised, though, to see that Gantt charts are only available on the Pro tier.

airtable-kanban

Uses for Airtable

Airtable’s high level of customization allows you to use it for a wide range of needs. Like any other project management app, you can use it to create tasks oriented toward the same goal. This may be for a business deal, bug reports or new development.

However, you can use Airtable for much more than just completing projects. Airtable’s templates show you how  it could work for other tasks, such as organizing camping trips, tracking business competitors and searching for apartments.

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You can use Airtable to organize most things in your personal or professional life. If you’re considering using Google Sheets or other spreadsheet software to organize a project, Airtable will do the same job with more flexibility.

Workspaces, Bases and Tables

Airtable’s organizational structure is split into three levels: workspaces, bases and tables. Knowing which levels share information and which ones do not is key to understanding the software. This setup is a bit different than a lot of competitors that focus on projects and tasks, such as Basecamp, with its all-in-one management style.

The highest level of organization is the workspace. Every user can have unlimited workspaces, but you’ll have to purchase a separate plan for each one. You can invite collaborators to participate in an entire workspace.

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Each workspace is populated with bases. These bases are similar to a single file on Google Sheets. Everything in a base can link to each other, but custom fields are not shared across the entire base. You can link records to each other within a base, even if they’re in different tables.

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Inside each base is at least one table. The table is the smallest unit of organization and is a group of records within your base. Every table has a set of custom fields, a list of views and its own data.

Tables are displayed as a series of tabs within a single base. Every team member with access to this base can use every table, but you can limit creating and deleting records at the table level.

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In addition to the other permissions settings, Airtable also offers the ability to share any table, base or workspace in a view-only capacity. This is a great option if you have clients.

Blocks

Airtable’s blocks are a unique feature that sets it apart, especially compared to other spreadsheet software. These views take up the right side of your workspace and show you charts, tools and integrations that you can use in your projects.

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These blocks tap into the data in your base and display it the way you want, whether it’s a bar chart or a Gantt chart. It’s a little disappointing, though, that Gantt charts aren’t one of the built-in views (check out our guide on using Gantt charts).

Blocks are a really interesting feature that we haven’t seen in other tools. Some of the blocks, such as time tracking, are often covered in integrations. We’re especially a fan of the quiz game designed to help you learn names and faces from a table of employee records. 

Integrations

There are very few integrations that display within Airtable. This is disappointing, since many competitors — such as LeanKit — have a variety of ways to display data in their apps. However, there are plenty of integrations that allow you to update Airtable using other programs, such as Gmail.

You may need to use Zapier or a similar product to take advantage of these integrations, though. Using Airtable integrations is a bit of a pain, especially since we couldn’t find a way to access the list of integrations except by looking through the entire site.

Templates and Airtable Universe

Another standout feature of Airtable is its templates. This is a series of Airtable-created bases that you can view or copy into your own base. Each one can help you set up your base for a specific goal, such as payroll. However, if you’re looking to manage an accounting project, check out Mavenlink for a different approach.

Airtable Universe is a similar concept with templates, but none of the bases were created by the company itself. Each base template is presented by an outside company or person, with an explanation of its goals and why they used Airtable.

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Just like templates, you are welcome to use one of these by copying it to your own base. This makes the learning curve a bit less steep, and it’s a great way to see how other organizations are using Airtable.

Linking Records: Subtasks and Dependencies

Airtable does not natively support subtasks or dependencies. However, it does support linking tasks together, which gives you the ability to imitate these functions when you need to. By creating a custom field and label, you can link records from different tables to each other.

If you would like to create a subtask, add a field on the parent task and call it “subtasks.” Set your field type to link to another record, and choose the table that the subtask is on. You can even link records from the same table.

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The process is almost the same when you create dependencies. You just need to relabel the column accordingly. There are no automatic ways to keep dependencies in order or any built-in functions related to them.

Airtable Features Overview

  • Management Features

    • Tasks
    • Subtasks
    • Dependency management
    • Custom backgrounds
    • Other customization options
    • Unlimited Team size limit
    • 1000 GB Storage space
  • General

    • Credit Card
    • Accepts cryptocurrency
    • iOS, Android
    • Free Trial
  • Security

    • Two-factor authentication
    • AES-256 Encryption
    • Y (Type 2) SOC certification
  • Support

    • Live chat
    • Email / Contact form
    • Phone support

Pricing

85 % – Very Good

For Airtable, pricing comes in three plans. Its Free tier offers a lot of functionality, although it’s missing a few key features. Airtable prices the Plus tier — an expansion of the Free tier — at $10.00 per user per month. The Pro tier comes with significant upgrades at $20.00 per user per month.

The Enterprise tier includes a few tools for large businesses, such as single sign-on and individualized onboarding. The 1TB file storage space makes it a good choice for file-heavy projects and big teams.

Free
  • 1,200 record, 2GB file storage Details
Airtable Plus
  • 5,000 records, 5GB file storage Details
Airtable Pro
  • 50,000 records, 20GB file storage, Blocks, Calendar features, Priority support Details
Airtable Enterprise
  • Admin panel, Unlimited workspaces, 1TB file storage, (Contact sales for pricing) Details

If you don’t have any money to spend on a tool, the Free tier is a solid option. It didn’t quite make our list of the best free project management, though.

Unfortunately, the Plus tier isn’t worth the cost per month. It doesn’t offer any new features, just more space to run your projects. The Pro plan is the best choice for someone looking to use Airtable for advanced organization.

The blocks feature is only available on the Pro tier. This is a high-value feature that you’d miss if you didn’t have it. You also can’t display a date range on the calendar view in any lower tier.

Although the Pro tier is the best option, it’s worth noting that the Airtable price per user is on the expensive end. Some competitors, such as Podio (see our Podio review) have fully fleshed-out software for a lower price per user per month, and Freedcamp is an example of a solid free tool.

Airtable Free Trial

If you would like to use Airtable before purchasing it, the company does offer a 14-day free trial of Airtable Pro. Unlike other companies, though, signing up for the trial can be a bit of a pain.

Ideally, the trial would automatically apply to every new account without users having to sign up. If this worked, it would be very easy and user-friendly. However, this didn’t work for us, and we needed to contact support to apply the trial to our account.

No credit card information is required to use the free trial, so if you need to try a new management tool, Airtable is a great option.

User-Friendliness

90 % – Excellent

Signing up for Airtable is a breeze. It asks you about your experience with databases and your current job position in order to arrange your first workspace in a way that’s easiest to understand. For example, if you are inexperienced with databases, it will generate a few examples.

Airtable is a very intuitive program with a layout similar to Smartsheet. However, as you can see in our Smartsheet review, it’s not quite as slick as Airtable. Although it has a lot of text on the screen at any given time, everything has its place.

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Airtable’s commitment to guiding you through the process is also pretty impressive. After you sign up, it offers you a host of different ways to learn about the features. You can watch the video, take a guided tour, read a written guide or even take a class.

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Every view that Airtable offers is a new way to visualize or manipulate your data. The main view that you’ll see is the grid view. This is a table that shows you all the details of your data. It can be sorted into groups based on particular fields for organization, such as department or assignee.

Similar to a lot of its competitors, the app also offers a calendar view and a kanban view. The calendar view allows you to sort your items by date or by a range of dates. You can even use multiple date fields in the same calendar, such as due date and publication date.

The kanban board is a very straightforward view, similar to Trello. If you’re interested in what a kanban board can do, check out our guide on how to use a kanban board.

Airtable’s “gallery” view sets it apart from many other management tools. If you have images attached on your items, this view shows thumbnails of each file as well as the details of the record it’s attached to.

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This view, just like all the other views, can be filtered on any of your custom fields. This gives it a huge amount of adaptability. For example, you can add categories or tags to the records and then filter to sort your images.

Airtable Forms

You can add a form to any base, just like you would any other view. The fields in each form have to link directly to the fields in your table. When an end user fills out a form, it creates a record in your table.

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You can also share these forms with third parties. This is a great way to handle bug reports or any other client-facing feedback portal.

Like many other features Airtable offers, the forms view is drastically improved by the number of custom field types available. For example, your form may contain a multi-select field for categories or tags.

Security & Privacy

90 % – Excellent

Airtable’s security is solid. It is SOC-2 Type-2 compliant, which means that its security practices have been observed and approved by a neutral third party. Your data is safe with Airtable.

Your data is encrypted both in transit and at rest. This stands out above competitors, such as Asana, which only encrypts at rest if you are on a premium plan (see our Asana overview).

Airtable also allows you to use two-factor authentication with its software. Two-factor authentication is a more secure way of logging in to your account, reducing the likelihood of your data being compromised. If you do use two-factor authentication, check out our list of the best 2FA apps.

Bugs and Breaches

We dug deep and found no records of any breaches of Airtable. This is a great sign that your data is safe. Of course, you still have to do your own work to keep your identity secure online, but Airtable’s technology won’t let you down.

Airtable also runs its own bug bounty program. This means that it pays anyone who can find a vulnerability in its software. This system is a great way for companies to keep their data secure long term.

Privacy, GDPR and CCPA

We appreciate that Airtable has written its privacy policy for the average person. It makes the policy easy to read for every consumer, and nothing can hide in that kind of language.

However, we were disappointed that it barely addresses Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Both of these pieces of legislation provide extra privacy protections toward residents of Europe and California, respectively.

Airtable has only one line that mentions it is compliant with GDPR, which is expected because the company does business in Europe and it would be illegal for them to do so if it wasn’t compliant. Its security policy does not mention the CCPA at all, but the same scenario applies to that law.

Although some companies offer these protections to everyone, most — like Airtable — offer these protections only to the minimum number of people it is legally required to protect.

Service & Support

80 % – Good

Airtable really doesn’t want to help you directly. Instead, it offers a wide variety of self-help options so you don’t need to submit a ticket. Although these options are useful, Airtable takes it a bit too far.

The support website offers you a list of popular resources, as well as a search for the knowledgebase and an overview of the articles available. It’s nice that it has overviews for every view and feature it offers.

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If you need help from a real human, Airtable recommends the community forum. There are a lot of regulars waiting to help, both as Airtable employees and users. It’s a solid choice if you need help with specific technical issues.

Chatbots and Tickets

You cannot start a ticket from the Airtable support page. It’s always disappointing to see companies hide the ticket system, especially since moderation of the community forum seems to be linked to the business hours of its support team.

To submit a ticket, you have to click the “help” icon while using Airtable and select the “contact us” option. This torments you by first making you go through an automatic chatbot that does nothing more than search the knowledgebase for your answer.

airtable-ticket

Once you confirm that you still want to submit a ticket, you can fill out the form in the tiny chatbot pop-up box. We’re surprised that there’s not an option for a full-page ticket submission form, especially for complex business issues.

Airtable’s support is available only during business hours Monday through Friday. This isn’t unusual for this kind of software, but it’s always disappointing. We submitted a ticket during the weekend and got an accurate and helpful response as soon as the company opened on Monday, so the service reps are on top of things, just not always available.

The Verdict

Airtable is a solid option for project management. You may get a lot of use out of its slick, unique features in a surprisingly easy-to-use interface. Although the cost is a bit expensive per month, it’s an all-in-one solution.

We weren’t impressed with its customer support, though, and it’s missing some cool features that its competitors have. Its integrations are a little hard to use, as well. This is why Airtable still falls behind the giants in the field.

Do you use Airtable for your own projects? Does it meet all of your needs, or are you looking for an alternative? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

Airtable FAQ

  • What Is Airtable Good For?

    Airtable is a great choice for any projects that use a lot of data, especially data of varying types. For example, you may want to upload a 3D model as a file and then view it in Airtable’s model viewer. Airtable’s spreadsheet design makes it one of the most useful apps for managing a lot of detailed data, and its wide variety of custom fields is ready to store any form of data you need.

  • Is Airtable Legit?

    Yes, Airtable is a legitimate management tool for your business or personal projects. It has a solid security setup, and it can be trusted with your data and your money.

  • Is Airtable Free?

    Airtable does offer a free version of its software. This version is missing a lot of unique features, such as blocks, but you could still use it for its sleek spreadsheet design and custom fields. Airtable also has a 14-day free trial of its Pro tier, in case you would like to use it more seriously. It’s a great opportunity to try out all the cool features you might miss out on.

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