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Why you should stop using spreadsheets as improvised databases

Database vs. spreadsheet

So, what exactly is the difference between a spreadsheet and a database? Databases resemble spreadsheets at first glance, with pages of grid lines and tabs. Like a spreadsheet, you organize the data in rows and columns.

That's the extent of the similarities. To calculate values and crunch numbers in a spreadsheet, utilize functions like =SUM(A1:A5). To discover and compare data in a database, you'll often use SQL queries like SELECT * FROM Customers. A spreadsheet could be used to compare data, but databases are significantly more powerful and far less likely to be messed up.

A database, on the other hand, is better suited to organizing enormous amounts of data. For running calculations, spreadsheets are the best option. Airtable combines the best of both worlds, providing a relational database that's as simple to use as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

There's five basic components to an Airtable base:

  • Bases

  • Tables

  • Fields

  • Records

  • Views


Bases are single databases that include all of the data you'll need for your project. "Employee Directory" or "New Car Shopping" could be the names of your database.

Airtable has a large collection of templates that are pre-populated with relevant example data and may be customized with your own information. There are templates for a personal CRM, project tracker, and personnel directory, for example.


Tables are used to store a list of information on a single type of thing. Each base can have one or more tables, much like a spreadsheet's worksheets. Each table in the Employee Directory database stores a specific sort of data, such as a person's name, birthday, and department.


A field is the name given to each column in a table. Fields are similar to spreadsheet columns, except they are used to ensure that your data is consistent. Each field is given a name and may be configured to carry a variety of data, including photographs, files, phone numbers, dates, checkboxes, and more.


The database equivalent of spreadsheet rows and columns are records. Each record corresponds to a line on your to-do list. Each record in a table of employees is a different employee, with data in each field detailing their name, department, address, and other information.


While viewing all of your information at once can be useful, you can also construct multiple views for each table in a base. Consider a view in Airtable to be a distinct lens through which the same underlying table data can be seen. These customized views are useful when you just want to see records that meet certain criteria, such as all engineering department personnel.

Gallery View - Your records are represented as huge cards in a gallery format. This view is ideal for emphasizing attachments to your records, such as staff pictures and performance reports.

Kanban View - You can visualize your records as a board of stacked cards using the Kanban view. You can drag and drop cards between stacks or reorder them inside a stack, which is a terrific method to create a workflow for your projects or demonstrate what stage each item is in.

Import content to Airtable from other apps

Do you have the confidence to create an Airtable database without using a template? Upload your existing spreadsheet data and change it into a customizable base using the import tool. You may also import from Asana, Trello, and even your phone's contacts or calendar.

Airtable's power is in its ability to adapt to anything you need to arrange and display it in the way you desire.


If you're excited and interested to keep learning about Airtable, you can join our community called Airtable Makers of the Philippines.

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