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Airtable: For those who used Transpose...

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If I posted about this already,  I apologise.  If I didn't post it before I also apologise.  If someone else suggested it here,  I'm sorry that I'm now taking credit for finding it.  In fact let's just start off with me being really,  reallyreally sorry and move on.

Then,  on a happier note.. 

I liked Transpose,  because it was,  until very recently,  a database to which you could add structured information,  and process and display it online in various ways.  It's now closed down,  but I found a new contender.  Airtable

Which is a spreadsheet to which you can add data.  It's also a relational database - you can link new facts to stuff you already know - and a calendar (if you have dates in there somewhere) and a KanBan chart of items sorted by various options.  In fact it's quite a little powerhouse of collaboration and connectability which I'm initially using for one project as a trial.

Too much information for detail,  but Transpose Airtable* would mean (forinstance) that if I was arranging meetings throughout the year on different subjects at different venues,  I could have one database of venues,  one database of subjects,  and one database of details and dates,  linking to the relevant subjects and venues so I don't have to keep entering the same information over and over for each event.

I can share the Calendar view with my customers so they know what's coming up in their area,  and if they sign up with one or other venue I can use their sign-up form (created in Airtable) to look-up or populate their customer record for my information later.  I can use the KanBan view to keep me on track with support material for each event.

It looks really good.  Obviously do your own due diligence before you invest hours setting up your own system,  and (just for information) I get all my data together in Evernote before I set it up in Airtable and they support Zapier,  so I should be able to arrange to copy details across rather than enter it twice.  It's an app worth Evernoting,  even if you don't need it now.

(Just to confirm - I have no connection with them!)

PS Evernote - the relational database thing is what they call 'transcopy' in Wikis,  where you show some or all the content of one note as part of another.  If only Evernote did that sort of thing I wouldn't need to use third-party software...:P

* PPS - Oops.

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On 12/13/2016 at 11:46 AM, gazumped said:

I found a new contender.  Airtable

Which is a spreadsheet to which you can add data.  It's also a relational database - you can link new facts to stuff you already know - and a calendar (if you have dates in there somewhere) and a KanBan chart of items sorted by various options.  In fact it's quite a little powerhouse of collaboration and connectability which I'm initially using for one project as a trial.

Gaz, thanks for sharing this.  A brief look/testing of Airtable  indicates to me that it is fantastic!

I really like being able to create my own tables, with powerful field types.  At first I was put off by the limitations of the free version, but as I now understand it, it is really not that limiting.  You are limited to 1,200 records / base, but you can have unlimited bases, where a base is "like an app of your own creation. It's similar to a spreadsheet workbook, and can contain multiple tables".  For personal use, I think 1200 records/base will be more than sufficient.  However, If you are running a business, then you might need more, much more.  But then you'd be able to afford the Airtable Plus rate of $12/month/user.

I'm building a base/app for Medical Records (which they did NOT have a template for).  I'll post back here as I learn more.

Gaz, may I suggest that you add "Airtable" to the topic title, so that this topic is easier to find by search.

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2 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

I'm building a base/app for Medical Records

So far, so good.  This is very easy to do.  It even includes linked records in other tables, which you can create on the fly.

So far, I have not seen anything that I don't like.

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On 2016-12-13 at 9:46 AM, gazumped said:

new contender.  Airtable

Which is a spreadsheet to which you can add data

Thanks for the info

I like the spreadsheet format - I use the toplist view in Evernote
And Airtable allows you to add your own columns

One of the first things I evaluate is if I can export my data.
I am happy with Evernote's export option; my data including attachments is exported intact
Airtable exported the text (csv file) but attachments were lost

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AirTable Security

As security is often a concern by Evernote Users, I thought I'd post this, from the AirTable site.

Airtable security practices 

Quote

Maintaining the security and privacy of our customers' data is the our utmost concern at Airtable -- our success and credibility depend on it. All data you enter into Airtable remains yours, and we are committed to ensuring that your data is not seen by anyone who should not see it. Airtable's data is encrypted both when it is sent to and from our servers, as well as when it is at rest.

  • To protect your content in transit, Airtable uses 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption.
  • At rest, Airtable content is protected using 256-bit AES encryption.

 

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On 2016-12-13 at 9:46 AM, gazumped said:

Airtable

Which is a spreadsheet to which you can add data.

You inspired me with an idea

The objective is to supplement my data in Evernote
The Evernote Notes are a useful tool; some text, attachments, etc.  
However, some data is better presented in column form.  

  1. Instead of the Airtable app, I'm proposing to have a Spreadsheet(s)
  2. The rows in the spreadsheet are linked to the Evernote Notes via the classic link
  3. Tags would indicate the sheets (if any) in the spreadsheet
  4. I can have different sheets, for example @JmichaelTX's Medical Records
  5. I'm on a Mac so I can apply some automation via Applescript

Of course Airtable has various views; the spreadsheet basically gives a column view, but they will be my custom columns for each sheet

Anyone else have comments or ideas for this?

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7 hours ago, DTLow said:

You inspired me with an idea

  1. Instead of the Airtable app, I'm proposing to have a Spreadsheet

OK,  I get the general idea,  but what's the intention?  Maybe I'm being slow,  but I don't see what you gain...  ??

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1 hour ago, gazumped said:

OK,  I get the general idea,  but what's the intention?  Maybe I'm being slow,  but I don't see what you gain...  ??

I should have stated my objective - I'll edit my original post

The objective is to supplement my data in Evernote
The Evernote Notes are a useful tool; some text, attachments, etc.  
However, some data is better presented in column form.  

The initial example was Medical Records, and I will be adding to this list; 
I'll review the templates used in Airtable to get other ideas

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My only complaint about Airtable is that presentation of your collected data sucks.  If you need it on other views than a spreadsheet it's even worse (and I never thought I'd get to say this) than Evernote.  If you have several fields in one record - an image,  title and a link say,  they show up in some views as:

image

 

 

title

 

 

link

- There seems no way to clean up the white space.  I already complained about this to them.  There's a KanBan view which is not too bad,  plus an API from which you can code your own layout,  but that's a step too far for many users.  Still,  like Evernote they're still developing.  If it ever gets to the stage of having a reasonably 'professional' card view they'll be in the area of competing with certain note-taking apps who shall be nameless but might be green(er) with envy...

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11 hours ago, gazumped said:

My only complaint about Airtable is that presentation of your collected data sucks.  If you need it on other views than a spreadsheet it's even worse

I guess this must be one of those "beauty in the eye of the beholder" things.

From my perspective, the layout/presentation is great. Have you tried all of the view options?

Are you aware that you can resize, reorder, and hide fields on the table/grid view?

If you want a page layout view, then you can can also attach a document, or provide a link to an Evernote Note.  

AirTable is NOT a candidate for an Evernote replacement, in most cases.  I see it as a great tool to manage a lot of data where I need to enter/track specific fields, like the Medical Records database.

You may want to browse some of the example Bases to see how things can be designed.

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21 hours ago, DTLow said:

Instead of the Airtable app, I'm proposing to have a Spreadsheet

That's certainly an option.  In fact, I have often used an Excel file attached to an EN Note to better track data.

I'm a huge Excel fan and user, having used it for decades and written some very complex, sophisticated Excel solutions with multiple sheets and workbooks.  But Excel is NOT a relational database, like AirTable.

The AirTable UI is fantastic, making it very powerful and easy to create and enter related data, even on the fly.  Excel can't really provide that type of UI easily, and then not very well (I've tried many times in the past).

For a single table, or a quick and dirty, small data set, you can make do with Excel.  But for something like the Medical Records database, Excel just can't compare.  Or so it seems to me.

Good luck with your Excel project.  I'm about done with my AirTable Medical Records, with only a few hours of work (and most of that was spent building a comprehensive disease list from CDC.  You're welcome to steal (err, ah, I mean use) my Medical Records database design.

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20 minutes ago, JMichaelTX said:

You may want to browse some of the example Bases to see how things can be designed.

Yeah,  I'm looking around as we speak - the reason for my concern was this sort of layout in forms.  The huge amounts of white (or actually grey) space means that one record needs lots of scrolling through. 

Although I'm having some ideas about combining,  or -as you suggest- hiding fields that aren't relevant...

ScreenClip[7].jpg

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32 minutes ago, gazumped said:

the reason for my concern was this sort of layout in forms.  The huge amounts of white (or actually grey) space means that one record needs lots of scrolling through. 

Yeah, agree, too much empty space in the Form view.  But I rarely use that view.  Most of my data entry, and viewing, is in the main grid view.

For those that like cards, images, stacks, etc, checkout this cool video:

Of course, we have to remember a few things:

  1. AirTable is a fairly new product.  I'm sure they will be adding more view features.
  2. Evernote's card views are very limited, IMO.
  3. Evernote's table (list) view is also very poor compared to AirTable grid view

 

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Admittedly, looks quite nice as far as layouts go.

But would you really entrust medical information to a company where you need Google to shed some light on whom they are?

 http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=286058755

Btw, their server is registered in Panama (Central America). To my knowledge a country where certain ocean vessels get registered, at least the sort that occasionally resemble  metal coffins (dug up).

The German Foreign Office, diplomatically of course, advise travellers of certain risks pertaining to that country, healthwise for sure.

 

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3 hours ago, JohnLongney said:

Btw, their server is registered in Panama (Central America). To my knowledge a country where certain ocean vessels get registered, at least the sort that occasionally resemble  metal coffins (dug up).

I'm not sure how relevant, or accurate, your information is.  The company, Formagrid, Inc., is NOT located in Panama.  The Registrant company, which just provides protected domain registration, is in Panama, but that is irrelevant:

Quote

Registrant Name: WHOISGUARD PROTECTED
Registrant Organization: WHOISGUARD, INC.
Registrant Street: P.O. BOX 0823-03411
Registrant City: PANAMA
 

Is this what they mean by "false news"?

A server location lookup yields:

Quote
Location information : airtable.com
Country Code
US
Country Name
United States
Region
Virginia
City
Ashburn

The company is located in California, USA:

Quote

Formagrid Inc. was incorporated in 2012 and is based in San Francisco, California.

769 Dolores Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

United States

So, I don't see any issues with the company ownership, company location, or server location.

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AirTable iOS App

Hey guys, I just downloaded and tested the AirTable free iOS app, and it works really great!

On the iPhone, it provides an excellent UI, that makes it quick and easy to see, find, and edit your data.  It is very fast.

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@JMichaelTX

Hey, do you know if the product works offline, or do you always need a connection?  Liked your template.

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13 hours ago, JohnLongney said:

But would you really entrust medical information to a company where you need Google to shed some light on whom they are?

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airtable

Airtable is a cloud collaboration service headquartered in San Francisco. It was founded in 2012 by Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad, and Emmett Nicholas. It aims to improve productivity and organizing data.

 

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39 minutes ago, csihilling said:

do you know if the product works offline

No offline mode, although its a requested feature

The company response was

Hi, everyone! First off, we hear you loud and clear on the desire for offline mode. We've spent much time internally exploring the possibility of offline mode (and even building some prototypes), but it's a fundamentally difficult feature to build. Since Airtable is a collaborative product, an ideal offline solution would need to gracefully handle merge conflicts, and do so in the context of Airtable's relational data structure and rich field types.

Aug 2016 at https://community.airtable.com/t/access-to-bases-on-mobile-devices-while-offline/625

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2 hours ago, csihilling said:

Hey, do you know if the product works offline, or do you always need a connection?

Looks like @DTLow has already answered this question.  I agree that we need this, but it's not stopping me for now.  I have ultra high speed Internet at home and office, and my iPhone usually gets great bandwidth (> 10 Mb/s) via a cellular connection.  I do plan to do routine export to CSV of my AirTable database for backup purposes.

2 hours ago, csihilling said:

Liked your template.

Thanks.  I'm just getting started, and have already made substantial improvements over the published beta version.

I'll publish the entire database (without any records of course) when I finish it to a reasonable design.

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There's a Windows desktop native app,  and I just found the Zapier integrations which allow you to connect Airtable to pretty much anything,  including Evernote and Google Drive.  There's a Youtube channel and a bunch of third party contributions...  looks like the only limitation is your own imagination...

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2 minutes ago, gazumped said:

looks like the only limitation is your own imagination..

Scary thought.  ;)

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6 minutes ago, gazumped said:

There's a Windows desktop native app,

and a Mac native app, but it still gets the data via the Internet.

7 minutes ago, gazumped said:

I just found the Zapier integrations which allow you to connect Airtable to pretty much anything,  including Evernote and Google Drive.

Awesome!  Thanks for sharing.  Here's a link to this:  Airtable Integrations - Zapbook - Zapier 

8 minutes ago, gazumped said:

looks like the only limitation is your own imagination...

That's how I see AirTable also.

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1 hour ago, gazumped said:

I just found the Zapier integrations which allow you to connect Airtable to pretty much anything,  including Evernote and Google Drive.

Just did some testing with Zapier, connecting Evernote to AirTable.  Seems to work OK.

Zapier looks very cool, and is probably very powerful.  But it is also expensive.  Unless I find a compelling reason to use it, I probably will not upgrade to a paid plan.

Zapier-Plans-Pricing.png

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On 2016-12-15 at 6:26 PM, JMichaelTX said:

But Excel is NOT a relational database, like AirTable.

Spreadsheets, the poor man's database
Actually database software comes free on my Mac (sqlite), and I'm using free browser software (DB Browser)
and of course I'm starting with the Evernote database

I don't have front end software for a database (as in AirTable), and my current software doesn't translate to well to my iPad 

So far the spreadsheet approach is holding up well with 10,000 rows.
I was surprised and sometime will do some stress testing to see when it chokes

Thanks for all your work on the Medical Records Template
Its an extensive resource of ideas

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

I don't have front end software for a database (as in AirTable), and my current software doesn't translate to well to my iPad 

I have to say that I am very impressed with the AirTable iOS App.

It is well designed for the iPhone size, and functions very well and intuitively.

Here are two screenshots from AirTable iPhone, showing the power of table views.

First, the Main View,
which shows ALL Diseases

AirTable-IOS-DiseaseTable-All-Screenshot

 

And now the "Diseases Found" View,
which shows ONLY those records where a disease has been associated with either me or my family:

AirTable-IOS-DiseaseTable-Found-Screensh

So having Views is so powerful.  It allows, in this case. to have a table with hundreds (or thousands) of records, but to filter and sort in View to provide a more specific report.  Of course, this is available on the Mac/PC.  Actually, I defined the View on my Mac.

For more information, see Guide to views -- Airtable - Support 

Notice also the formula fields for the CDC Search and WebMD search.  These fields dynamically build a search URL using the Disease Name.  Works great!

The sync seems to be instantaneous, I guess since we are always connected to, and updating the AirTable Cloud.

As this point I can say that I highly recommend AirTable.  The free version is very powerful, and limited only by the number of records you can store in EACH database.  But you can have unlimited databases.

See Pricing - Airtable 

 
Free Plan
Plus Plan
$12/month
Pro Plan
$24/month
Unlimited bases
 
1,200 records / base
 
2GB attachment space / base
 
2 weeks of revision and snapshot history
Unlimited bases
 
5,000 records / base
 
5GB attachment space / base
 
6 months of revision and snapshot history
Unlimited bases
 
50,000 records / base
 
20GB attachment space / base
 
1 year of revision and snapshot history
 
Priority support
 
 

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AirTable Example

OK, here is an example of the main table, "Med History", in the "Medical Records" Base (database).

Med History Screenshot on Mac

Medical-History-AirTable-Screenshot.png?

Note that the data highlighted in a grey (or med blue) color are related records from another table.  Clicking on them will bring up the full record from that table.

The "Type" field/column is a "Single Select" from a hard-coded list of choices".

Definition of "Type" Field

Med-Events-Type.png?dl=1

For me, the "Med History" shows all major events in one's medical history, including "Office Visits".
You can, of course, change this, or just create specific views that you want to see, like "Surgery".

Also note the inclusion of a URL field for "Evernote" Notes.

This is how I integrate Evernote with AirTable, keeping most of the details and attachments in Evernote.
I enter the  local Evernote URL, so it will open the Note in my EN Mac app.  You could enter the global Evernote URL that opens in a web browser.

 

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42 minutes ago, JMichaelTX said:

Also note the inclusion of a URL field for "Evernote" Notes.

This is how I integrate Evernote with AirTable, keeping most of the details and attachments in Evernote.
I enter the  local Evernote URL, so it will open the Note in my EN Mac app.  You could enter the global Evernote URL that opens in a web browser.

Could the URL insertion be automated with the Zapier integration?

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5 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Could the URL insertion be automated with the Zapier integration?

I don't think so, and even if it could, Zapier is very expensive.

Zapier works on a trigger, like when a new Note is added to a Notebook.

In the case of AirTable, almost all of my Notes have existed for quite some time.

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On 2016-12-15 at 6:39 AM, gazumped said:

My only complaint about Airtable is that presentation of your collected data sucks.  If you need it on other views than a spreadsheet it's even worse (and I never thought I'd get to say this) than Evernote.

I actually prefer the spreadsheet view to show a collection of notes
I know its just me, but my brain gets distracted with the other views (snippets, cards). 

I use toplist view on my Mac, but its not available on my iPad 
Also, you Window users have more column choices than on the Mac
For example, I'd like to add Subject and Reminder dates columns

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Like we always say - whatever works for you...  My application was a customer view of information,  so it needs to be simple and intuitive and tidy-looking.  And from my and the customer's point of view,  very easy to maintain.  Non-techies might be contributing as well as viewing,  so really simple is better...

Still working on all of the above...

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I knew there would be a successor to Transpose.  It is such a needed idea, I'm glad to see Airtable.  Trello is moving in this direction themselves.  Basically trying to have user-structured data.  I think the market is vast but not clearly defined.  There are only a few people who are going to think through how they want to use it and build a table structure for it.  They end up creating dozens of templates to facilitate the process and then people get lost in the templates.

I thought Evernote would go the structured data route with a NoSQL backend, but see no signs of this.  If this think can get a viable mobile app, I'd consider it as most data collection is on mobile these days anyway.  I got a cheapo android free-form db that I use for a variety of random tasks.  It would be great to hook it up to something

 

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17 minutes ago, TroyC said:

I thought Evernote would go the structured data route with a NoSQL backend, but see no signs of this

I'm not clear on where you got that idea - Evernote "would go the structured data route with a NoSQL backend"
I  can't see how that would work when accessing your notes

As backup, I export my notes in html format but I lose the meta data locked in the Evernote database
I'm exploring two solutions

  1. Appending the metadata to the note (title, notebook, tags, dates etc)
  2. Maintaing the metadata in a spreadsheet

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Airtable do have an Android app,  and it's possible to design a 'forms' view of data that will allow the user - and any others s/he invites - to post new information.  (Not sure about edits.)

If you're a developer,  Evernote's API will allow you to use their database structure to store information,  and display it according to your own preference.

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