- 15 Sep 2022
- 10 Minutes to read
Creating interfaces in Interface Designer
- Updated on 15 Sep 2022
- 10 Minutes to read
Interface Designer is a powerful new way for creators to work with their collaborators without requiring those collaborators to navigate the full complexity of a base. You can create multiple interfaces on top of the same base to ensure collaborators always see and interact with the information most relevant to them.
Airtable’s Interface Designer offers flexible ways to simplify workflows, visualize data, and tailor information to different audiences across organizations. In this article, we’ll be covering everything you need to know to create a new customized interface!
Are you trying to figure out what you’d like to build? Or maybe you’d like some inspiration of how interfaces can work for specific workflows? Check out our guide on building new interfaces to get a quick rundown on the whole process from start to finish.
What is an interface?
An interface is like a unique, customizable window into your base’s data. Instead of presenting collaborators with an entire base full of information, you can focus their attention by displaying the data they need to know alongside the context needed to understand and interact with that data.
Those familiar with Airtable are probably very familiar with the idea of a base: an organizing container for tables that hold your data. Interfaces are a presentation layer that can pull information directly from tables in your base.
And as a base is a collection of tables, interfaces are also grouped into collections with a single name and icon for easy identification.
So, to sum up: each interface is located in an organizational group of interfaces, and each group of interfaces is connected to a single base.
Creating new interfaces
If you have “Owner or “Creator” permissions on a base, you can create an interface for that base.
Interfaces are collected into organizational groups that can be easily identified with a single name, icon, and description. This is the name and icon that will appear for that collection of interfaces on your home screen:
A group can contain multiple interfaces, and each of these interfaces can be found on the Overview page for that group of interfaces:
Creating a new group of interfaces
If this is the first interface in a base, you'll first need to create a new interface group with a name and icon for the whole group of interfaces. Navigate to the base you’d like to create a new group of interfaces in, and click on the “Interfaces” button in the top left of the page.
Clicking on the “Create new” button from the Interfaces home page for a base will walk you through the setup of creating a new group of interfaces:
You can now customize your new interface group’s name, icon, and icon color. You can additionally add an optional description to let all collaborators know the main purpose of this group of interfaces.
For this example, here is the name, icon, and description for the new group of interfaces we created:
Clicking “Next” will take you to the Overview page for this new group of interfaces. We are now ready to start adding new interfaces within this group by clicking the “Create new” button.
Creating an interface within a group
To recap: interfaces are customizable, editable, and shareable visual representations of your base’s data, and each interface lives in a group of interfaces for organizational purposes.
If you are not in editing mode already, you will first need to click “Edit” :
Once in editing mode, click on “Create New” button to begin the process of creating a new interface.
You can also create a new interface from the interface group’s menu in the top left-hand corner:
1. Choosing a layout
The first step to creating a new interface is to choose from the available layouts:
Layouts are a framing structure for you to build your interface on. A layout is like choosing a recipe; you have a good starting place that can be customized to your unique tastes by introducing additional ingredients.
There are a variety of layouts to choose from, including Record review, Record summary, Dashboard, and a totally blank layout if you’d like to start from scratch. To learn more about the different available layouts see this support article.
Connecting your layout to a table
Once you’ve selected the layout that is the best fit, you will then need to connect that layout to one of your base’s tables.
As you do when creating a new view, you can then configure your data by adding filtering conditions or sorting the information you are retrieving from your table. Note that if you selected the “Blank” layout, you would skip this step.
2. Giving your interface a name and description
Once you’ve chosen a layout and connected it to a table, you can add a name and description to your new individual interface for clarity and to let your collaborators know how to interact with it.
If you choose the “Blank” layout, you’ll skip this step, but we recommend editing the name of your interface now lest you navigate away and forget what you were building.
3. Adding and configuring elements
Elements are the building blocks of interfaces. Adding, reconfiguring, and reformatting elements in an interface will allow you to fully customize the look and feel of that interface.
If you created your interface using a layout, each piece of that layout is an element. Clicking on any element on the page will open up the “Properties” panel that will allow you to edit what is displayed in that element.
While in editing mode, you can drag-and-drop your element anywhere within your interface, and your interface will automatically make space for it:
Not only can elements display information, but they can also be interactive. You can create editable elements to allow collaborators to update information directly from an interface, allowing them to update the data for the underlying records within your base.
You can also use elements to change the information displayed on the screen by allowing the user to select records, create their own filters, or comment directly on records.
There are many different types of elements that can be configured and combined to make your perfect interface. To learn more about elements, you can read the adding and formatting elements and the configuring elements support articles.
4. Previewing, publishing, and sharing your interfaces
After spending some time building your interface, it’s time to get a preview of the final product. Clicking on the “Preview” button in the top bar will let you see what the final product would look like if you published the interface in its current state.
You can also use the “View as” toggle to view your interface from the perspective of the different collaborators on your base. This is particularly helpful if you added a “Current user” filter on your interface:
When you’re happy with the final results, you can click the “Publish” button in the top bar and choose to publish your new interface:
Interface Designer allows you to select which, if any, of your interfaces you’d like to publish within an interface group so you can specify one or multiple interfaces to publish at once.
With your new interface published, you can now share that group of interfaces directly by clicking the “Share” button in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
From the share menu, you can share an interface group via email with an individual Airtable user or a user group.
Note that if you share an interface with a user who is not already a collaborator on the connected base, you will make that user a base collaborator. The share menu will allow you to set collaborator permissions for the new person you are inviting to the base as part of sharing the interface:
See this support article to learn more about editing, previewing, publishing, and sharing groups of interfaces.
Who can create new interfaces or new groups of interfaces?
Collaborators with “Owner” or “Creator” collaborator permissions on a base can create new interfaces and groups of interfaces.
How does Interface Designer differ from other sharing tools in Airtable, like shared views or forms?
That’s a great question! It’s so great there is a whole article devoted to the new landscape of collaboration in Airtable with the introduction of Interface Designer.
Can I share an interface without making someone a base collaborator?
At this time, only collaborators on a base will be able to see interfaces for that base.
Can I send a base collaborator a link to an interface I’ve built?
Interfaces each have a unique URL, so you can easily share a specific interface with a base collaborator by sharing the URL for the interface you’d like them to see. If you’d like to learn more, please read this support article on sharing interfaces.
What happens if more than one collaborator is editing an interface at the same time?
Interface Designer will always save the most recent changes to an interface. So, if more than one collaborator is editing the same interface, Interface Designer will reflect the last changes to both collaborators.
Can I duplicate an interface?
Yes, you can! Check out this support article for more details.
Can I print an interface?
At this time we do not support printing or exporting interfaces.
Can an interface be connected to a shared view?
Yes, but maybe not in the way you might first think. You can add a Grid element to your interface and copy the view configuration of the shared view you are looking to showcase from the base where the interface is being built. If the shared view resides in another Airtable base, then you would need to create a synced table from that shared view and then add a Grid element to your interface connected to that synced table.