If you've been following this guide, by this point, you've already learned just about everything you know to get started with Airtable's core functionality. But the ability to customize your bases to match your exact workflows doesn't end there. If you need to visualize your records as a chart or on a map, format them into a custom page layout, video chat with your teammates, or integrate Airtable with another service like Google Cloud Vision, you can do all of those things (and much more!) with the Airtable Extensions platform.
IN THIS ARTICLEMain points
Building and using extensions
Adding your first extension to a base
Organizing your extensions
- Airtable Extensions is a platform that allows you to add mini-apps (blocks) onto your base to further extend its capabilities. It's available on all plans, but there are different limits outlined here.
- There are dozens of extensions for you to choose from—like chart, page designer, matrix, org chart, or pivot table—and more are being developed all the time.
- Some extensions that integrate with other services—like map, send SMS, Vision, or Clearbit—require that you have an API key from that service.
- You can arrange a base's extensions into different dashboards, allowing you to better organize your extensions depending on how they're used or which team member makes the most use of them.
- You can view your dashboards in a split-screen view or a full-screen view, and rearrange the extensions on the dashboards to your liking.
For Pro and Enterprise users, Airtable has a whole library of mini-apps called apps that you can mix and match to build just the right tools for your team. These extensions live on top of your base and can help you do many different things. Here are just a couple of examples:
- visualize and format your records by viewing them in the pivot table, custom page layout, or 3D space extensions
- import information from different sources and turn it into new records, using the CSV import, contact import, or XML import extensions
- enrich your base with external content by embedding it in an iframe
- keep your team on task with productivity tools like a time tracker, countdown, or group video chat
Some extensions that integrate with other services require that you have an API key from that service. Depending on what service the extensions uses and how much you're using it, this can cost you money.
An API, which stands for “application programming interface,” is a defined way to request information from a computer system. Airtable can use other services' and extensions' APIs to request information from them to enrich your own base. In order to do this, Airtable needs your unique API key with that service. Airtable then shows this API key to the other service so that the other service knows who's making the requests (you!).
Since all the extensions are so different from one another, the best way to learn about how extensions work is to just go ahead and add one to a base. You need creator permissions to add extensions to a base, and every collaborator on a base sees the same extensions.
Let's return, once again, to Pacific Records, to make a chart showing our artists' total album sales.
(If you haven't been following along with the guide, then you can copy the embedded base above to get caught up.)
In the top right of your base, you'll notice a button that says "Apps." Go ahead and click here to open up the extensions side panel. Click the big blue Add an extension button to open up the extensions library, which will show all of the available extensions you can add to your base. Scroll through until you find the chart extension, then click the Add to base button.
You'll be immediately brought to the customization settings for your new extension. The first thing we want to do is make sure that the records being visualized are the records for our albums. From the Table dropdown, pick the Albums table; then pick a view that contains the album records you want to visualize. In this example, we'll pick “Released albums,” a view filtered to show only albums which have a release date earlier than today.
Next, you can pick which chart type you want to visualize. Let's stick with the bar chart option for now. Once you've picked a chart, you'll need to pick a field for your chart's X-axis. Since we want to visualize how many albums each artist has sold, we'll pick Artist as the X-axis.
Once you've set up the X-axis, you'll need to set up the Y-axis. By default, the Y-axis is configured to show the count of records associated with each value on the X-axis. In this case, this means that the chart is currently plotting the number of albums each artist has released. Since we want to know about the album units sold, we need to pick Field instead of Count, then select Certified units/Sales (k) as the Y-axis. We can now visually compare how many units each of the artist in our roster have sold over time. There are many other things you can do to customize your chart, but for now, let's just admire what we have.
Congratulations! You've successfully set up your first extension. You can add multiple copies of the same type of extension, so if you wanted to make another chart extension that compared the sales numbers for each album, you could do that too. Or you could add other kinds of extensions to your base: like an embed extension to embed a Soundcloud playlist of your artists' top singles, a record list extension to show artists whose contracts are expiring soon, or a map extension to show where in the world your artists are based. It's all up to you!
Just keep in mind that different extensions work very differently, and may have different setup steps than the chart extension. If you have questions, please check out the specific support documentation for each extension.
Once you start getting more extensions, it becomes important to keep them organized. You can view your base's extensions in a split screen view or a full screen view. To switch between the split screen and full screen view, click the expand button in the top right corner of the extensions panel. When your extensions panel is in split screen mode, you can click and drag the dividing line left or right to change the size of the panel.
You can also expand an individual extension to fill the whole screen by mousing over it and clicking the expand button.
Apps are arranged into dashboards, collections of related extensions. Right now, we just have a single dashboard, Dashboard 1. Let's rename it to "Visualizations."
We can add a new dashboard by clicking on the dropdown arrow next to the name of the current dashboard, then clicking the Add a dashboard option.
You can rearrange extensions on a dashboard by mousing over the extension you wish to move, and clicking and dragging using the drag handle in the top right corner. To resize an extension, click and drag from the bottom right corner.