In a traditional spreadsheet, everyone sees exactly the same thing when they look at a table. However, not everyone on your team has the same needs or needs to look at the same information in order to do their work.
That's where views come in. A view allows you to customize what information is displayed in a table based on criteria you set. All the underlying content in the table will be the same, but how you see that information can differ depending on your needs. Let's make a new grid view and customize it to our liking!
- Main points
- Understanding views
- Making a new view
- Hiding fields
- Manually reordering records
- Automatically sorting records
- Switching between views
- Views let you customize how information is displayed in a table: all the underlying information is the same, but how and what is shown can differ.
- Filters allow you to hide certain records from a view depending on values in their fields.
- You can also choose to show or hide specific fields, which allows you to focus on a smaller subset of relevant fields without changing or deleting any of the underlying data.
- The order in which records appear is also specific to a view. You can manually rearrange records, or you can apply a sort so that your records appear in a particular order according to the values in specific fields.
- You can make as many views as you'd like and switch back and forth between them depending on what you want to see, when.
Depending on what you're trying to accomplish in your base, seeing certain types of information will be more or less helpful for your needs. Let's return to our Pacific Records base.
What if you want to see just the currently active artists on the roster? What if all you care about is each artists' contract expiration date? What if you want to see whose contract expiration date is coming up soonest?
Rather than painstakingly scanning through all of the available information you've put into the base, you can instead apply filters, hide extraneous fields, or sort your records to bump the most pertinent information to the top of the table. By creating different views with different criteria, you can focus on what's most relevant to you exactly when you need it.
You can think of a view as a custom lens for looking at the same underlying information: how you see the information changes, but the information that you're looking at stays the same. Whenever you hide or reorder columns, apply filters, or sort and reorder rows, those changes will only apply to your current view. However, if you make changes to the underlying records—like making a new record or field, editing the content of a record, customizing a field, and deleting a record or field—those changes will apply to all views.
Whenever you look at your information in Airtable, you're always looking at it through a view. The default view you get when you make a base from scratch is a grid view with no hidden fields, filtered records, or specific sorting called "Grid view."
It's often useful to keep a view like this one for times when you're in the process of adding new information to your table, or for when you want to see all of the information in your table. However, the name "Grid view" is a little generic. Let's go ahead and rename this view to "All Artists" so we know what this view is showing us. You can rename a view by clicking the ellipsis button in the view bar, then selecting Rename view from the dropdown menu, or by double-clicking on the view name.
A broad overview can be very helpful, but sometimes you need to zero in on specific records as part of your workflow. Let's make a different view that will show just the currently active artists on our roster.
To make a new view, click on the arrow to the left of the view name. This will bring up the view switcher, which shows your existing views and lets you add new views. Click on the Grid option in the Add a view section of of the view switcher. (You'll see options to make other types of views, but let's stick with making another grid view for now.)
You should now have a new grid view called "Grid 2." Let's give the view a name that's more indicative of how we ultimately want to use it, like "Currently Active."
One of the core features of views is the ability to filter records according to particular criteria. When a record is filtered, it is not deleted—it's just hidden from the particular view you're using to look at your table. Filters are a great way to hide inactive records or archive them if you don't need them anymore—without permanently deleting any historical information in case you need it later. Let's use filters to hide any of the artists that aren't currently active.
Click on the filter button in the view bar to bring up the filter menu. As you might expect, you'll see a notice indicating "No filters applied to this view."
Go ahead and click the + Add filter button. This will create a new filter condition that you can customize. First, let's set the filter field. Right now it says "Name," but since we want to filter records based on the values in the Status field instead, let's click on the dropdown and pick Status.
Next, we need to select the filter operator. If you click on the dropdown, you'll see a variety of options, including "is," "is not," "is any of," and so on. In our case, since we just want to see records in which the value in the Status field is Active, we'll leave it as "is" (...so to speak).
Lastly, we need to select the comparison value, which is the value that you'll be comparing your records to. If you click on the Select an option dropdown, you'll get a selection menu much like the one you see when picking a cell value in a single select field. Let's pick Active, to make the filter condition complete: we want to see records where Status is Active.
You'll notice that now only a subset of your records are visible. If the status of a record changes from something else to Active or from Active to something else, that record will automatically enter or leave the view.
You can add more filters if you'd like to filter your records by multiple criteria. Let's add another filter that will further limit the visible records to just those artists whose contracts are expiring within the next year. Click the + Add filter button again, then set the filter field to Contract End. Since Contract End is a different field type than Status, the available filter operators have changed to be more relevant for the date field type—in addition to "is" and "is not," you can also select operators like "is within" or "is before." Let's pick "is within" as the filter operator, then pick "the next year" from the new dropdown that's appeared.
If you have multiple filters, you can change the boolean operator from And (which is the default) to Or. This will make it so that the view will show any records matching either of the specified criteria. You can also remove a filter by clicking the X button next to each filter criterion. Let's go ahead and remove that last filter that we just made.
Notice that once you've applied any filters, you'll see that the filter button gets a green highlight and says how many filters have been applied to the view. Any visible fields that are being used in the filters will also have a slight green background. This is so that you can see at a glance whether or not any filters have been applied to the view.
Filters hide records (rows), but you can also choose to hide certain fields (columns) from a view. To control the visibility of the fields in your view, click on the Hide fields button in the view bar.
Try clicking the toggles next to the Bios and Status fields to hide them. There are also buttons to hide all fields and show all fields at the bottom of the field visibility menu.
Notice that if any fields are hidden, the hide field button gets a blue highlight and changes to say how many fields have been hidden. This is so that you can see at a glance whether or not any fields are hidden.
The order in which records appear is specific to a view (unlike a spreadsheet, in which the number of a row is an inherent property of the row). This means that different team members can easily rearrange records within a view to look at them in whatever way is most convenient for the task at hand, without affecting the order of records in other views.
You can manually reorder rows by clicking on the drag handle that appears when you mouse over a record, then dragging the row to a new location.
You can also select a range of rows to move by clicking on the checkbox that appears when you mouse over a record, holding the Shift key, and then clicking on the last record number in the range you want to select.
You can also apply one or more sorts to your view that will automatically arrange your records in a particular order according to the values in specific fields. To apply a sort to your view, click the sort button in the view bar. Since we don't currently have any sorts applied, the sort menu will say "No sorts applied to this view." Let's sort our artists by how soon their contracts are expiring. Create a new sort by clicking on the Pick a field to sort by dropdown, then selecting the Contract End field.
Records will now automatically sort themselves in this view if any changes occur to records that would cause them to be ordered differently. The sort button will get a soft orange highlight, as will any visible fields being used for sorting criteria. When automatically sorting records, you won't be able to manually rearrange records.
If you'd prefer, you can switch off the Keep sorted toggle. This will allow you to sort records only when you decide to apply the sort using the Apply sort button
We've now finished setting up our own custom view that shows just the currently active artists on our roster, and stays automatically sorted to show which contracts will be ending soonest. At any time, we can switch from this view to see another view.
To switch between your existing views, click on the dropdown arrow next to the name of the view. From the view switcher, you can see all of the views associated with this table. Right now, you should only have two—All Artists and Currently Active. Click on All Artists to switch back to the original view.
We've now gone through the basics of customizing a view—including filters, hiding fields, and sorting records. Next, we'll go over the different view types.