No-Code September 22, 2020

Will Tables by Google be a strong Airtable competitor?

Artur @arturmkrtchyan

Curious to hear your thoughts on whether Tables by Google be a strong Airtable competitor or not ?

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    I had a quick play with it this morning.

    First off, I had to VPN into it from New Zealand because for some reason its only available to the US right now (not a good start).

    Initial impressions... UI is light years behind the polish of Airtable. It definitely feels like a Beta product at the moment. Things just feel clunky and a bit rough on the edges.

    Another quick criticism is that from my brief testing there doesn't appear to be a way to link multiple records from another table to a row. This is kindof a big deal.

    For example, I've build a web app for a catering business using Airtable as the backend. For each "order" there is linked multiple "order items". This is a "one-to-many" relationship. With Tables it (currently) appears you can only link "one-to-one" which is a strange limitation to put on a 'database' app.

    Okay - good things now.

    They've done a great job with having tons of starting templates that provide both examples of how things work and also business ready templates like "Bug Tracker" or "Applicant Tracker".

    The "bots" feature is quite good in it's ability to easily set up automations like sending a weekly email report, adding/modifying rows on a change, or even sending a webhook (something Airtable still doesn't really have yet!). Like other things it's a bit rough on the edges and lacks polish. E.g. the email feature is plain text only so is very Spartan in presentation.

    I actually specialise in G Suite, and creating automations using Google Apps Script. So I was very happy to see that Tables integrates directly into Apps Script (+ has a full REST API, although the documentation is severely lacking). I would LOVE to see Tables expanded to be a true Airtable competitor because that would feed beautifully into the G Suite ecosystem.

    I could see myself creating a lot of custom workflows using Tables instead of having to pull in Airtable or other database apps. Also the pricing looks aggressive ($10/month TOTAL for the pro plan vs $10-20/month PER USER for Airtable) so that will certainly be a huge draw for companies who want something like Airtable but not the cost.

    I think Airtables recent moves with Automations and the "App Marketplace" were necessary so they could become more than just a glorified spreadsheet. I don't see them going away but becoming a bigger no/low code eco-system that a business can use to create custom apps. Exciting times!

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      Great to hear your perspective, David! Thanks for sharing. And thanks to Artur for the original question ;)

    2. 1

      Thanks for sharing your experience! It has a great potential and will help to shape the nocode movement

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    I think it has the potential to be a super strong offering in the space.

    I've been using the alpha for a few months and it's replaced Trello for me. I use the kanban board layout and a bunch of automation bots to manage my weekly business tasks and it's awesome. I've created an issue tracker for my business too, using the built in forms to collect the info.

    As other user @davidgentile mentioned, it is rough around the edges at the moment, because it's a beta product from a small team from Google's internal product incubator, Area 120. But the functionality is really impressive and I'm sure it will develop quickly. There are loads of templates out the box too, so you can get started with some solid workflows quickly.

    Trello and Airtable are mature products so they do have deeper feature sets at this stage. And are more polished.

    But if Google Tables continues to grow and has a really tight integration with G Suite I think it could be huge in this space.

    I've shared some more thoughts here: https://www.benlcollins.com/tables/google-tables/

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    I don't have a strong opinon on it yet until I give it a try, but I think if you can use Tables seamlessly with the other G Suite tools, that would be a pretty powerful combo.

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      This is precisely the case.

      I believe Area120 has correctly identified the missing elements of a workflow/information feature set that is vastly missing from Sheets and Docs. With this relatively precise gap targeting, they have perhaps created the perfect invitation into the larger realm of G-Suite and business process tooling.

      We often see and gravitate toward feature weakness when assessing new ideas (no formulas ... Wait. What?) but fail to see integration strengths (webhooks, Google Apps Script, etc - more here).

      I believe the sum of the integrated parts presents an opportunity for business users to build systems that will be very difficult to achieve in a practical and affordable manner with competitive no-code platforms such as Notion and Airtable.

  4. 1

    🔮 YES

    It might very well be, just like Google Drive is a strong competitor to Dropbox. But Airtable is already established, so I don't think that's going to be an issue. In fact I have a hard time thinking of any example when Google copied an existing service or product and killed the former top player. I don't have a hard time thinking of products Google discontinued though.

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