Using Airtable as an API

The power of an API with a user interface like a spreadsheet

Tools Used

Airtable

A spreadsheet killer, drop-in API, a backend with built-in admin interface, and so much more. Airtable is one of the best all-around tools for startups and side projects.

Cheapest Plan: $0 per month.
Tech Level

I’ve started using Airtable for almost everything that I used to pack into spreadsheets. The big advantage to using Airtable for your API is that they have an excellent visual user interface and integrations with many other tools built in. Plus, you can use Zapier to trigger custom actions when new items show up in Airtable.

Pros:

  • Super simple to get started, another zero-code solution
  • Authentication via a single API key
  • Permissions using sharing settings in UI
  • Input forms to allow users to add content
  • Can use with Zapier to trigger events in other services, send emails, etc.
  • Database-style linking between records
  • Query by complex functions for advanced filtering and searching of records
  • User roles allow limited role-based permissions
  • Excellent automatic documentation generated for each table
  • API is automatic. Every Airtable you make already has API access

Cons:

  • Officially only allows up to 5 API requests per second, which might be fine for light use, but could be limiting as you scale up
  • Authenticating users requires them to have an Airtable account and generate their own API key
  • Not as customizable as some options

How

Using Airtable is one of the simplest ways to turn your data into an API.

  • First, create a new account on Airtable.com
  • Create a “base” - Airtable’s word for a new database - and add some data to one or more tables
  • Next, generate an API key by going to airtable.com/account and generating an API key
    • Note: Your API key can be used to access all your data in Airtable, so be sure to keep it secure
  • Next, go to airtable.com/api and select the Base you just created
    • Airtable has automatically generated API documentation based on your Base and Table’s schema
  • To use the API, open up Postman and make your first call.

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