At Airtable, we find that we are more productive when we work with others. For that reason, we built collaboration into the core of Airtable — making it useful whether you are organizing a trip with friends or managing a complex team project.
In this section, let’s explore collaboration from the perspective of someone planning a music festival with Airtable. With a complex project like an event, there are countless details to manage, and it’s critical that planning team stays coordinated.
If we’re going to organize the entire festival in a single Base, we could share just that database. Add Base-level collaborators by clicking the “Share” button at the top right side of a Base. Then, enter that person’s email address and set their permission level using the drop down menu.
There are three collaborator permission levels for shared Bases. That lets our festival organizers give limited edit access to the event production staff, ushers and crew.
- Creator – full access to the Base, including the ability to modify other collaborators’ permissions and delete the Base.
- Edit Only – can add, delete, and modify rows and add, delete, and modify views. They can’t modify field types.
- Read Only – allows collaborators to view records but not edit them.
When you add a collaborator to a Base, that person will receive an email from Airtable with a link that they can use to access it. After that person logs into Airtable, the Base will appear in the “Shared Bases” team on their homepage. Going forward, that person will have the ability to add other people to the Base at their permission level.
If your team has multiple Bases that you want to share, try creating a team. Teams are shared workspaces where collaborators can access multiple Bases. In our festival example, a team would be appropriate if you have a different Base for each show location.
When you first sign up for Airtable, you get personal and work teams by default. You can create additional teams by scrolling to the bottom of the homepage and selecting “Add New Team.” Setup the team by right-clicking on the team name (Ctrl + click on a Mac). There you can rename the team, access account information, and delete the team.
You can move Bases from one team to another by clicking and dragging the Base icon on the homepage. Only the “owners” of a Base’s original team can move it to a new team, so you may need to ask for help. Alternatively, you can duplicate a Base that has been shared with you and move that version to a new team.
Once your team is ready to be shared, add collaborators by clicking the icon on the top right side of the team. Enter the email address of the people you want to add and set their permission level using the dropdown.
Team collaborator permission levels are similar to those for a Base, with the addition of an “owner,” which essentially lets someone administer the team.
- Owner – full access to the team’s Base and the ability to modify billing settings for the team.
- Creator – full access to the team’s Bases, including the ability to modify other collaborators’ permissions and add/delete Bases in a team.
- Edit Only – access all the Bases in a team and the ability to can add, delete, and modify rows and views. They can’t modify field types.
- Read Only – access to view all Bases in a team but not edit them.
Sharing Bases is one thing, but to be truly collaborative, people need to know what’s happening in real-time. When people are simultaneously making changes to the same Base, they’ll see each other’s changes applied as they happen. Collaborators’ profile pictures will appear in a record when they are actively editing it.
In this example, a band’s bus gets a flat tire and needs to reschedule their performance. Here’s what it looks like when someone else edits, reorders, and comments on a record.
When you’re organizing something with as many details as a music festival, people need to know when changes affect them. To make a collaborator aware of important information, you can mention their name to send them a notification.
Mentioning people in Airtable resembles the same experience on Facebook and Twitter. To mention someone, type the “@” symbol and then select a person from the dialog that appears. Mentions work inside long text fields and the comment box of an expanded record.
When something important happens on Airtable, we let you know through notifications. You will be notified when someone shares a Base with you, adds you to a team, or mentions you in a record. These alerts are delivered through email, mobile push notifications and the bell-shaped notification icon on the website.
If you’ve ever tried copy-and-pasting spreadsheet data into an email message, you know how hard it can be. Emailing records with Airtable is as simple as selecting the records you want to send, right-clicking to select the “Email records” option, and entering the recipients’ email addresses.
Rather than holding a meeting to discuss the latest lineup for the festival, in two clicks you can email out the updated records.
Airtable seamlessly integrates with Slack, a popular messaging app for teams. The Airtable integration will post updates in a Slack channel whenever changes are made to a Base. For example, if someone updates a record in our festival base, it’ll send a message to a Slack channel.
To set it up, go to the Base you want to integrate, open the Base configuration menu by clicking the name, and select “Slack notifications.” On the configuration page, click “Add to Slack,” authenticate, and choose the Slack channel that you want to receive updates. Learn more about setting up the Slack integration.
Onboarding your team
Jazzed to introduce Airtable to your team, but want to make sure your team gets off to a good start? Here are a few tips to get everyone up to speed.
- Migrate your existing data – If you have data in another tool, start by exporting it as a .CSV, importing it as a new Base, and configuring the columns. That way, your team won’t need to add data from scratch.
- Describe your Bases and columns – To help others quickly get up to speed, we recommend adding Base descriptions to explain how to use the Base. Similarly, column descriptions can explain the purpose of columns and how calculated fields are derived.
- Create a team and invite others – Create a team on Airtable, so your group has a dedicated workspace for sharing Bases. Add the Base you setup by dragging it into the new team’s area on the home page. Invite people to join your new team, carefully considering who should receive owner, creator, editor and read-only permissions.
- Establish conventions – Help your team develop conventions for how they use Airtable. Show them the ropes by creating views for people and mentioning people in comments.
- Add Integrations – Incorporate Airtable into the rest of your team’s workflow. Add integrations with the apps and services your group uses — email, Box, Dropbox, Slack, Google and more.
Next: Filtering and Sorting