Airtable's Form Problem: Why It Matters

Cover Image for Airtable's Form Problem: Why It Matters
Marko K.

Airtable has a problem many users are talking about. When filling out a form, you can't easily add new linked records. This means if you're working on a form and need to add something new, you have to stop and go do it somewhere else. This isn't just annoying – it makes work slow and can lead to mistakes.

Users have found their own ways to fix this, like using other form tools or making extra steps in Airtable. Below I’ll discuss some of the solutions and offer our own.


  1. Multi-Select Field with Automation: Use a multi-select “Items” field in the form. An automation script, when triggered by a new record submission, reads the selected items and creates corresponding records in a separate table.

    • Pros:
      • Simple Setup: Utilizes native Airtable features without third-party apps.
      • Dynamic Updates: Adapt the automation as the form evolves.
      • Unified Data Entry: Enter all details within one form.
    • Cons:
      • Maintenance: Frequent adjustments might be needed for the automation script.
      • Performance: Heavy data volumes could slow down processes.
      • Linking Limitation: Newly created records aren't instantly linked in the traditional Airtable sense.
  2. Using External Forms & Integration (like JotForm or TypeForm): Users can create static forms on these platforms, which won't pull data from Airtable. The submitted data can then be sent to Airtable using integrations like Zapier.

    • Pros:
      • Versatility: External tools often provide more advanced form capabilities.
      • Interactive Experience: Platforms such as TypeForm offer engaging form completion processes.
      • Integration Flexibility: Zapier and similar tools can link with numerous platforms, not just Airtable.
    • Cons:
      • Multi-Platform Reliance: Depending on multiple tools can complicate both the setup and ongoing adjustments.
      • Cost Concerns: Additional subscription costs for each platform.
      • Latency Issues: Delays might occur between form submission and data integration into Airtable.
  3. Using Two Airtable Forms: One form allows users to link to existing records in another table. A second form lets users add new records to the linked table. Users who can't find the required record in the first form are directed via a link to the second form to add the new record. You can put the link to the linked table form on the linked record field in the first form under the label (where it reads “Add some help text”).

    • Pros:
      • All-Airtable Approach: Stay within Airtable without external tools.
      • Immediate Data Entry: Data goes straight into Airtable.
      • Clear Data Segregation: Distinct data types are separated between the two forms.
    • Cons:
      • User Experience Hurdle: Filling two separate forms might be cumbersome for some.
      • Data Consistency Worries: A risk of data discrepancies if navigation between forms isn't flawless.
      • Maintenance Overhead: Managing two synchronized forms can be labor-intensive.

Subsystem's Solution to the Form Problem

We understand the challenges of managing form records. Our form tool allows you to add linked records with ease, even letting you nest one linked record inside another. This ensures you can streamline your workflow without interruptions.

Example of Nested Linked Record

If you're looking for a tailored solution, our Subsystem Managed Services is the answer. We'll craft custom forms tailored to your preferences, complete with your branding and style, all at a competitive price. With our solutions, you can focus on what you do best and leave the form complexities to us.