When it comes to processing large amounts of data, Microsoft Excel has long become the golden standard. This, however, does not mean that there is no better alternative.
Airtable is a combination of spreadsheets and databases that allows you to gather, organize, and store information related to all the projects you are working on. Airtable involves little to no code knowledge but enables the creation of complex, intertwined yet perfectly organized datasets with the help of records, tables, and bases.
To learn how to create such datasets, we must first look at how your information is stored in Airtable.
How does Airtable store data?
Before we learn how to link Airtable bases together, we need to figure out some basic concepts.
What is an Airtable base?
You can think of Airtable bases as workbooks in Microsoft Excel. Basically, this is an aggregate of tables united by a common subject (e.g. Project tracking, Content Calendar, etc.)
What is an AIrtable table?
Each base contains tables, or spreadsheets, with all kinds of info stored in them. Information can exist in multiple tables within a single base, or across several bases.
Image: An Airtable base (Project tracker) with one of the tables (Tasks, timelines, and assignees) open. Other tables in the base: Notes, Contacts, Overview.
Each table stores data in records, or rows, each comprising a multitude of fields. Airtable fields serve the same purpose as columns. Unlike Excel, they can contain not just strings of text or numbers, but also:
- File attachments
- Opinion selections
What is an Airtable view?
Airtable allows you to configure the display of fields and records for each particular table. Such configurations are called views. You can use default Airtable views such as grid, gallery, or Kanban board, or you can filter, sort, and emphasize data in a table any way you want, with a maximum of 1000 custom views per table.
With this in mind, we are getting to why Airtable has become so popular. Namely, Airtable lets you easily grasp and display the relationship dynamics between different datasets. In terms of the platform, this is called linking.
Essentially, linking implies synchronization between records, tables, and bases, which allows you to:
- Decentralize larger data arrays
- Visually represent the relationship between data instances
- Manage data access and share it among stakeholders
- Update information across multiple data instances and avoid duplicates
- Streamline work that involves multiple teams, and more
So, how do you link bases in Airtable?
Currently, there is no way to link individual records to each other across bases. Instead, you can link multiple bases in Airtable together, which will copy the views (and all records within them) from one base to another. There are two ways you can do this:
- Create a synced table. You cannot modify data in the synced table, but all changes made to the table in the source base will be reflected in the recipient base as well
- Copy data to a new table that you can edit
Before linking bases, there are several parameters that you might want to play with. Specifically, you can:
- Let viewers of the recipient base copy data out of the synced view
- Synchronize copied data to other bases
- Display all synced fields as expanded by default
- Protect synced table with a password
- Restrict access to the synced table to a specific email domain
Now, let’s take a closer look at the process to link bases in Airtable.
To link to another Airtable base, you need to:
- When reviewing a table in a source base, click on the Share view button
- Make sure to toggle on Allow data in this view to be synced to other bases
- Click on the Sync this view to another base button
After this, you will see a pop-up window where you can choose:
- Source base to share a view from
- Linking method
By clicking the Create table button you will launch the synchronization process, after which the selected view from the source base will be copied to the recipient base.
Alternatively, you can link two bases in Airtable using the syncable view share link.
- Open the Share view menu as before
- Click on the Preview icon next to the view share link
- Revise the view of data you are going to sync
- Click Use this data next to the synced view’s title in the upper left part of the screen
After this, the regular pop-up window will appear, allowing you to choose the linking method.
Yes, Airtable allows linking as many bases as you need – considering that the current maximum of bases that you can have at once is 500.
To do this, simply follow the sequence of steps to link bases in Airtable: you can connect as many recipient bases to your source base as you need.
Airtable: how to copy a table to another base?
Creating a synced table is not always the best option to link one base to another in Airtable because you cannot alter, modify, or change this data except by adding new fields to it.
Alternatively, you can copy a table to another base using any of the three following methods:
- Click on the Share view button in the upper right corner of the screen, then select Sync this view to another base.
In the pop-up window that appears, select the option Copy this data to a new table that you can edit
- Create an empty table in a different base, then copy-paste the information from the source table manually:
- Select all the records that you need and press Ctrl+C
- Select the first cell in the recipient table and press Ctrl+V
- Export all the data that you need as a CSV file, then import that CSV file into the recipient table.
Can Airtable sync tables in the same base?
Airtable lets you link two or more tables inside the same base by connecting their records. Here is how you can do this:
- Click on the small arrow next to a field name and select Customize field type
- Change the field type to Link to another record and select a table you want to establish a connection with, or create a new one
- Save changes using the Save button.
Once you link records, all the changes you make to the source will be reflected in the recipient.
Automating views export from Airtable
Linking bases and separate tables together is a manual yet convenient way to transfer data within Airtable. But what if you need to copy information to a third-party application – say, export Airtable to Excel or BigQuery – exactly the way it is displayed in your table?
If you are working with limited data arrays occasionally, you can simply copy-paste the entries you need. However, this method works poorly for the regular export of numerous Airtable records.
Airtable supports over 1,000 integrations, including the solutions for automated data export that require little to no code knowledge to install and configure. For instance, here is how you can export your Airtable views using Coupler.io.
Coupler.io is a data integration solution that allows you to set up automatic export from Airtable to BigQuery, Google Sheets, and Excel. The sequence of steps to do it looks like this:
- Sign up to Coupler.io and go to the Importers tab, then click + Add New Importer
- Connect your Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, or Google BigQuery account. Then, select Airtable as a source application and add Excel or BigQuery as destination applications.
- Add a shared Airtable view link
- Specify the workbook and the range of cells to which you want to export data
- Set a schedule for automatic data updates
That’s it! Hit Save and Run for automatic export of your Airtable views to Excel or BigQuery.
Linking one base to another in Airtable is simple
Combining the features of both spreadsheets and databases, Airtable is a convenient tool for project management, customer management, accounting, sales, and much more.
When you link one base to another in Airtable or link multiple tables, you can visualize the relationships between data stored in them, enabling fast and easy navigation and data management. In-built functionality lets you do this in a couple of clicks.
And, if you need to transfer your data to a third-party application – say, BigQuery or Excel – you can always use integrations such as Coupler.io for automated export.Back to Blog