Best Airtable Alternatives & Competitors for 2020
Airtable is a product of Formagrid, Inc., a private company based in San Francisco. The company was founded in 2013 by Duke University graduates who wanted to provide people, especially mobile users, a new and easy way to interact with information inside complex databases. Before, this type of information are accessible only inside data centers through expensive proprietary enterprise applications. Airtable aims to make it more common for people to take advantage of the power of databases anywhere and anytime through a simpler interface.
What is Airtable?
Airtable is a collaborative online software that combines a spreadsheet interface and a database backend. It is a business application that lets you create and store records in a table, organize tables in a database, link data, and view information in a number of ways. You have the flexibility to customize how you enter, view, and track your records with several options. Choose the field types that handle your data inside a record. You can view and share your data in various ways, such as in a grid, calendar, gallery, or Kanban view. It also integrates with popular apps and services to extend its functionality, and has templates to help you get up and running quickly.
Issues with Airtable
Airtable is a successful product with over 170,000 company customers of all sizes across the globe. However, it is not a magic solution for everyone. Here are some of the issues that users encountered when they tried the software:
- Communication is limited to placing comments on records or individual data rows. Users also wish for more space to write their comments.
- Work within forms and access for non-users is problematic, requiring all outside collaborators to first create an account. As a result, people choose other services like Google Forms, because people usually already have a Google account.
- Although it has a calendar view, that view is fixed without any other configuration.
- Blocks are available in premium plans only, and they are not as seamless to integrate.
- Teams and organizations were not happy that they have to pay per user accounts.
Top 3 alternatives to Airtable
ClickUp is a top Airtable alternative that comes with a free version with unlimited members. It is a business application that also gives you a spreadsheet interface that works with Airtable and Google sheets data. Moreover, it lets you write your to-do lists to manage your tasks, customize features for better project tracking, and create docs, wikis, and notes that you can share. Other features include email integration, built-in chat, calendar, timelines, Gantt chart, reminders, goals and time tracking, and video recording.
Notion is a free workspace application to help you organize and centralize your data. Aside from working with a table, you can also create to-do lists and notes, build a knowledge base, and track tasks and projects with a Kanban board. It has a free plan and several premium plans to choose from whether working as an individual or as a team. It is easy to switch views, for example, from your table to a calendar with additional customizations. Other features include a cleaner interface, keyboard shortcuts, drag-and-drop editors, and real-time collaboration with support for @mentions.
Although Basecamp does not have a spreadsheet interface or explicitly uses a database, it tries to achieve the same goals as Airtable: organization. Many applications are primarily based on features, so your projects appear under a feature. Basecamp does the opposite by letting you start with your project, and then letting you choose which features to use per project. Also, it has several built-in communication tools like message boards, group chat, and pings or direct messages. Other features include a to-do list, a scheduler, docs and files manager, automatic check-ins, and reminders with several configurations. Basecamp as a team application has a single plan that includes unlimited members, which is better suited for bigger teams.
Disadvantages of Airtable
1. Higher learning curve
Some users got overwhelmed when they started to use the software. Although the interface is familiar, using it required a large amount of knowledge to learn the different features. And users did not see enough helpful tutorials to introduce Airtable properly. Regular users did not find it intuitive enough, and they had difficulty getting used to working on many parts of the software.
2. Limited collaboration and communication
Business applications, whether used by freelancers or teams and organizations require more robust communication tools. Although you can share your tables and views, you can do so only with people with an Airtable account. Communication is limited to comments on a record, but aside from that, general discussions will have to happen in an outside email or messaging application. This does not help when you are trying to be more organized and centralized.
3. Not the best project management solution
Airtable can help organize your data and make it more accessible. However, it is not the right solution if you are looking for a software that supports and reinforces project management methods. You can list your tasks in the grid view, check your schedule on the calendar, and view progress with the Kanban board, but it requires more manual tasks and followup actions from your team while they are already busy completing their specific project assignments. Communication is vital in project management, but it’s a problem in this solution.
Airtable provides easy access to data. It also provides flexibility to users in how they want to manage and work with their information. Although it provides an alternative way, it also comes with limitations, particularly in terms of communication or a more defined structure. Fortunately, there are more options now available, such as Slack to better manage communications, or Jira for those who work specifically in software development. The best way is to begin with your requirements, your team, your preference of working, and start with our top Airtable alternatives.