- Reliable 1-5 hours a month of downtime. There are months where it's literally 1 nine of uptime. Their status page was actually down for a while (I think they forgot to renew it?)
- Simple and obvious bugs in the official API clients have not been fixed for years (for example, Promises in the official JS library throw the string `[object Object]` for all exceptions.)
- The API has no way to query the structure of a table, you have to infer it from the first few records. (The auto-generated API documentation is actually wrong if you don't have a fully-filled-in row somewhere in the first few rows.)
- You can't modify a table configuration by API... except you can _sometimes_ by adding a parameter which is documented to try to convert dates, but actually modifies field definitions for a number of fields. Documentation for which fields is entirely in scattered forum posts from users.
- Booleans in the API are `true` or `undefined`. Seriously.
This is all /barely/ worth it because Google Docs doesn't work when you need a large structured database with many collaborators. But man is it bad software.
Airtable allow switching data types on a column (from memory). Maybe they store everything as string and then the column definition is for display and allowed operations.
Hubspot do this (poorly) so they’re forever giving you back things like dates as string of a number representing a date.
I have been unimpressed with the over-complication and the...lacking API.
Salesforce is unbeatable in marketing and sales strategy, but the products are horrible.
> hearing Salesforce alone
What do you think about heroku?
I am genuinely interested in alternatives that is cheaper and don’t charge per user.
I think as a platform it’s really powerful. (I’ve arrived at that after years of looking at it with disdain). But it’s problematic from our perspective exactly because it throws out anything we consider good habits of software development.
When do you need a structured database with many collaborators?
Airtable and the like strike me as a database tool for dummies who want 'anyone change anything anytime', which is just a recipe for no one knowing who the hell is changing what and when anymore.
Businesses change fast and don't always have internal development resources to create an application to do this sort of thing.
Airtable allows me to define arbitrary fields for the Kanban cards, which happens to be a premium/paid feature in all the actual Kanban saas tools (Trello, etc).
We're an academic research lab that also happens to do contractual work for other labs (mostly internal to the university), mostly designing and building mechanical prototypes and testbeds for other researchers.
It took like 5 minutes to set up an airtable base to track our WIP and all information we use for billing our "customers": hours, material purchased, internal budget reference, etc.
Airtable makes it VERY hard to collaborate with people outside my organization. We are a team of 7 people. No longer a scrappy 1-person startup, but not an enterprise client by any-means.
If I want to add a single person to an Airtable base, that's $24 a month please. I have one client with 12 people that want to collaborate on the base by posting comments. I can't justify $288 a month just to keep the comments for all time.I contacted Airtable about this and was told the "Enterprise Plan" would be a perfect fit. Minimum $15k a year commitment.
Why is this happening in the SasS world??? Everyone seems to be either single Pro user, or Enterprise. Do they really think there is nothing in-between?
1) There’s customers who will pay 15k for the exact same users/features as you’re willing to pay <3k for. If they offered a cheap package then those customers wouldn’t pay for the expensive package.
2) Sub enterprise customers are a pain, they’re often as expensive as enterprise customers (acquisition, support, etc) but with significantly less revenue and higher churn. When a company decides where to focus it’s going to go where the money is.
I totally get that they need to make money to keep making a good product and stay alive. It’s a difficult problem.
One idea - If small clients are a pain (because of support) then support should be a specific thing that can dialed in a bit. AWS is fantastic here. Noisy people are gonna pay for it... but if I’m small, yet not noisy, then I don’t get hurt and can continue to drink the koolaid.
Just like GitLab. If you have users that might post one or two issues a year you have to pay for them at dev level prices. $240 / year for idle users that barely participate? No thanks.
And they have the same tone deaf solution; upgrade to Ultimate.
Silicon Valley SaaS bros have lost touch with reality because they have unlimited money to work with.
Disagree. The issue is that they don’t want cheap users. It lowers your average user value, impacts your valuation, and usually cheap users are the most demanding to support in relation to their revenue. A user that pays $50/year and has 5 questions to support us very different than 5 questions from a user posting $5000/year
If the goal is to ignore or be actively hostile towards the bottom 80%, I guess a lot of SaaS companies are succeeding. To me though, they're building poorer quality products that aren't going to capture enough up and coming businesses and the long term impact is going to be a bunch of bloated garbage with a ton of half baked features where everyone is competing for the "enterprise" dollars.
> It lowers your average user value, impacts your valuation
To me, that's what it's really about. It's pump and dump quality SaaS that's built for an IPO, not for the users.
Yes, that is the goal. When an org decides to target primarily enterprise, the whole business model changes. You go from self serve to sales, from support chat to SLAs, etc.
You literally become unable to support small customers cost effectively and they are not worth your time.
Happens a lot in the B2B SaaS space when companies realize how much easier it is to have 10 users for $10,000 than 1000 users for $10. Some companies decide to keep focusing on small businesses and indies, which is great.
Ultimately there’s room for both business models in the world. But as a business, you have to make sure you work with businesses where you are [still] the target market.
Or maybe you won't. But that's the reason I wouldn't want to do it.
Besides, there's no way you can only access the no-support users. Google, for instance, offers one of these for their email product and are able to make the product free. In their case, they got brand awareness quite fast. But even though Google has Google One in the US if you want paid response, this forum frequently decries the lack of support.
The problem is the users who occupy the no-support space cannot be selected as consumers. When you try to do that, you will get an army of users who want to not pay but who do want support. They think they want no-support but they don't, and they will retroactively rebrand their reasons to be more than money.
That isn't bitterness or anything (I've always dealt with B2B software) but it's the reality of the thing as I can see.
Take MS365 as an example. Most small businesses I deal with would be way better off with Exchange than with their current shared hosting email providers, but the value just isn't there for a lot of them. Microsoft thinks they're selling all this awesome stuff like Exchange, OneDrive, Teams, etc. in an ultra valuable bundle, but all small businesses see is Exchange plus a bunch of other bloat they're never going to use but are forced to pay for. They just want Exchange.
Plus, at least for the ones I've dealt with, the partner exclusively interacts with the customer, so bad support gets labelled as having a bad partner, not as Microsoft being bad. That also means Microsoft isn't incurring any cost to be the first point of contact either. In fact, the only time I've ever dealt with MS support for something Exchange related, they sucked. I ended up solving my own problem and closing the support issue by telling them what was wrong. Reputationally, we're the one that recommends it, we're the first point of contact for support, and we're the ones that take the reputation hit if something isn't working. At least that's my experience.
I see lots of small businesses that have 50 mailboxes for $60 / year at a shared hosting provider. That's $.10 per month per user. Guess how they react when you tell them moving to MS365 will be $5 per month per user? Now I'm not saying MS365 isn't worth more, but it's a HARD sell to tell a small business they should pay 50x for something that's currently working fine as far as they're concerned. Then you add in things like backup solutions changing per user per month and all of a sudden you're telling a small business they should pay 75x for the same feature matrix their shared hosting provider is selling them. They don't care about all the stupid value adds. In fact that stuff is negative value because it's unneeded complexity which results in frustration and increased support costs.
It’s MUCH easier to sell someone another product at that point too. That’s literally the strategy (cross selling) Ballmer used to increase sales so much that he ended up owning part of MS.
Is this a thing where all the YC companies buy each other's stuff to prop up the revenue numbers until IPO?
Different audiences, different approaches.
Many successful businesses are such that none of us have ever heard of, but are making millions, sometimes billions. We haven’t heard of them because we’re not the target market and talking to us is a waste of resources.
Google Form linked in your readme, done deal.
Because it works for them. I mean, they likely have customers for that $15k plan. And if they do, why would it be worth their time discussing <$24 plans that require extra dev time with you? (I don't mean it as a complaint - just awareness that for-profit companies will do for-profit things)
The in-between for some software out there is "Guest access". Services like Notion, Miro and Mural have this figured out, but it is very disappointing that most do not.
On the flipside, why should I, as a small user, share in the cost of things like scalability, HA, SLAs, etc.? I don't need those things.
Based on what I've seen in larger businesses, those things can be paper features. It doesn't matter if the small business edition has the same scalability and HA as the enterprise edition. Large businesses will still pay for the enterprise edition because they need to be able to show they paid for HA, etc. to cover their own asses if anything every goes wrong.
Charge for scalability and reliability, not features IMO.
0 - sso.tax
> And no HA doesn’t mean “down for a month”. It means I have no issue with enduring a few hours of downtime here and there
No HA means downtime is expected and frequent ( baring crazy luck, but let's not base business on hope). If your invoicing, or project management, or note taking or whatever SaaS is down and you need it now to do something for a client of yours, how many hours of downtime can you accept?
> And HA and backups aren’t even related, so...
You said scalability and reliability, good backups are a part of reliability. If a SaaS cheaps on backups and HA for small time clients like one-person companies or small startups, and then a fire burns it all ( but not entreprise customers, because their backups are replicated to another DC), is it OK because they were small?
I do know that knack.com has a pricing model based on number of records instead of number of users. Might be an option for you, depending on how many records you have.
You can also add read-only users to a base without having to pay for them. But giving them any kind of edit access (even just the ability to add comments to records) requires a full-fledged user account.
There are a lot of inactive users in reporting apps. A lot of people just log in once a month to see a single report and this was a useful way to get more users onboard.
It looked scary at first because you didn't knew beforehand how many minutes you should buy.
Mising standard and by minute license worked great, though
Just out of curiosity, what kind of collaboration are you doing with clients? I'm the CEO of a platform specifically for businesses and their clients, and we loosely compete with Airtable.
Excel is a really poor substitute for airtable.
It's the VC-finance industrial complex expecting a drive towards an IPO to exit while offloading the risk and unsustainable fees to the general public via misaligned stock brokers buying/selling to get fees vs. only benefitting long-term if their picks earn profit.
- Unlimited rows.
- Released under the MIT license.
- Uses popular frameworks like Django and Vue.js.
- Uses PostgreSQL as database backend.
- It can be self hosted.
- Designed to be performant with lots of data, handles 100k+ rows per table easily.
- Headless and API first.
- Supports plugins.
If you have experience with Django and Vue.js, we are hiring full stack developers. More info: https://baserow.io/jobs/experienced-full-stack-developer
> Challenge: Potential candidates will be asked to do a coding challange by picking up a small issue from the open source backlog
The candidates who are fixing the issues, get paid? If so, I think this should be clarified.
Also, there is a typo in the word `challange` should be `challenge`
i was surprised to find the field ID's are named like "field_48664" - are you globally autoincrementing your fields?? this is going to be bad news, no?
In the USA and I think all English speaking places we use dot rather than comma to separate decimals from whole number, and comma for thousands, millions etc. So at a glance (before looking closely) this looks like four thousand euros per user per month. I looked a second time and realized that was incorrect but consider fixing for EN- 4K/user/mo is quite shocking to read! :)
.forEach(lang => console.log(lang + ': ' + new Number('1.23').toLocaleString(lang)))
My goal isn't to be prescriptive, it's to reduce the likelihood confusion on the part of the reader. Writing in English then formatting numbers in a continental style is more confusing than writing in English and formatting numbers in the English style (obscure English locales with relatively minuscule numbers of users notwithstanding).
I've lived in Germany so it was easy for me to understand that €4,00 probably meant €4.00 given the context, but if I were unfamiliar with this style of formatting (as many American's may be), I might reasonably assume that the error was not a comma where there should be a dot, but a missing 0, making the cost €4,000/mo.
If it's your view that writing in English & formatting numbers non-English is more clear than matching the formatting to the language, I'm very interested in hearing that argument.
EDIT: I understand what you mean better now, you're figuring "Price in Euro = European target market." I didn't get that–I assumed the vendor is open to markets worldwide and charges in Euros because that's the vendor's home currency.
FYI, a pretty big typo on the front page.
- Join fields from related table (currently we can only see the id from the joined table field)
- Multi-line select, multi line update.
- Schema support
- Saving views (sort/filter option, hidden fields, joined fields)
I also have a question, are Kanban and Calendar view available in the free self hosted version?
Would Baserow be a good fit for using as database of subscription-based website? E.g. storing users, etc. You could have just static front-end and use Baserow as the database?
I'll definitely be looking further into it.
The business model is always that people who really want it for free can self host, and people who don't want to deal with the hassle will pay for hosting. Seems like a reasonable strategy to me.
Agree with your comment. What we've found is that most people don't actually want to self-host, even technical users who can. But they all want the optionality to self-host, which you don't have with most SaaS's like Notion or Roam. This is doubley important for "second brains", apps where you brain dump your closest thoughts.
As Balaji has said, given the choice, "you'd always pick open source over a comparable proprietary equivalent."
But I'd gladly pay more to have someone else manage hosting...
Well, it's a "trend" as old as dirt, really. The "Linux desktop" was, for years, little more than a series of clones of closed-source Windows apps. Arguably even the original GNU programs started as clones of existing Unix tools. It's unsurprising that this would later happen for web-based services too.
> The business model is always that people who really want it for free can self host, and people who don't want to deal with the hassle will pay for hosting.
Again, pretty old news - Wordpress is almost 20 years old at this point.
The problem of this setup, though, is that the commercial version will typically set the roadmap and priorities, while the open version will end up lagging.
The number of times where I would be HAPPY to work on a project for free to fix an issue or add a feature I want - I couldn't count.
Instead, it's always reaching out to support and "Thanks for your feature request - it's not currently on our road map, but I've added it to our list."
Google cloud marketplace allows you to launch all kinds of open source solutions with a click. This includes the setup for databases.
Though it's not a place that a non technical user would think to go, and I expect it's not really as simple as it promises. The devil is always in the details.
Exactly and you also don't own the data or have any expectation of privacy.
I imagine this company selling a visually appealing unit similar to how xbox and playstation aim to be more of an elegant accent piece than a clunky electronic box. This way when the user gets the product they just open, plug it in, create an account and password, wait for it to initialize, and then you're good to go and can start immediately downloading apps. Then just download an accompanying app on your phone/desktop/computer and connect to your own personal cloud where you own all your software and data. Could even sell upgradeable units for a premium that have an easy access panel to just swap or plug in additional RAM or SSD modules.
I also just setup a cron job to daily check for changes, and if there are git commit and git push and now I can access my notes from any device with a browser.
€4 per user / month
is much easier to read and understand for most people than
€ 4,00 per user / month
The comma made it look a bit odd and like €400 initially when I glanced at it and it just seems like an unnecessary level of precision to include the two decimal points when they are both zero anyway.
You can read the whole interview on https://www.infoq.com/interviews/bryant-smalltalk-dabbledb/
But now I see Airtable is used a lot in marketing departments and I caught a glimpse of a screen the other day and my marketing colleague's Airtable dashboard looked like a mix between Trello and messaging.
Can someone explain to me how Airtable is being used by non-technical people ?
And can Baserow fill that role too or is it a database thingy first and foremost ?
edit: does it have anything to do with templates ?
In general, you can think of it like a better realized version of Access, it brings relational databases into an Excel like view that semi-technical people can understand, then wraps it up with a few excellent built-in views like a kanban board, a simple form, and a calendar that non-technical people can understand. It has definite limitations but an easy to use API to expand upon it when you need it.
I'm really bullish on it after the project and have moved a bunch of personal stuff that was using external services onto a single airtable instance (contact management/CRM, personal project tracking, etc.)
I was able to put this together in the 10-15 hours per week that remains after I finish my core job responsibilities.
I want to learn how to do things the 'real-code' way but the learning curve is steep! Low code tools like Airtable let me use the limited time I have available to get something up and running. I can add improvements incrementally as my skills expand.
When I first set up the Airtable, I was importing data manually from our CRM and from our accounting software. Now I have an awful Postman collection rigged up that does the importing for me (but I have to click a button everyday to run it).
I discovered Pipedream a few months ago and have used that to set up an email system that queries the Airtable database and returns relevant records. A sales rep enters an opportunity and gets an email with a list of leads tailored to that particular opportunity. This incentivizes the reps to add their data to the system.
My next project is to set up emails to notify our new freight coordinator when a load needs to ship, that will query multiple related records and give her all the info she needs in one email, plus cc'ing the sales rep on the deal so they can coordinate.
Our CRM almost does all of these things but there's always some limitation that holds us back, if we're just trying to use the out-of-the box tools.
You can see some clips at the linked timestamp where they use air table. Looks really cool.
I like notion because it’s a hybrid of wiki, table/database, calendar, kanban. You can do a lot more than just tables.
Following the repository now, and tried an online demo account. Looks promising but now quite ready.
Will be switching from Airtable when:
1. More field formats are supported ( like Currency, Collaborators, Multiselect )
2. Kanban views are supported
3. Automations are supported
Baserow's mobile support is quite poor but Seatable does it very well and I've been using it for several months and love it.
Here's a 4min demo video of retool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkcwNwPy7RI
Airtable could've easily been the next Excel if they had just not been so tight-fisted, protective, greedy and aloof. There are plenty ways to monetize such a great product if they had just allowed people to use it. I have a feeling like their leadership was inspired by Steve Jobs, but they blindly applied Apple-esque walled garden philosophies to a domain where it makes no sense, because no one can actually use a cloud product without a proper API (operating systems are a different story).
I complain even though my life literally depends on Airtable. Shameless plug: I'm the founder of Fintable.io, a bootstrapped startup that syncs your bank accounts to Airtable, and I have no other source of income. I love Airtable, but I'm just sick and tired of their shitty castrated API that can't even stay up reliably. Maybe this is the trigger that will cause somebody over there to wake up, because it isn't too late for Airtable to win at this game (and I hope they do).
I like that pricing model
I always worry that essential features for tools like these will get bumped into one of those paid tiers.
Price is important, but data sovereignty more so imho. If a vendor is no longer meeting your needs, or the deal becomes less fair (you know the whole “raising prices once your business relies on them”), you can export and bounce.
More of this chef kiss
You can export and bounce from airtable too, you know.
Even when the service itself does not provide easy export there's often a free third party tool or browser extension to enable data export.
Great job OP!
They switch from PHP to Node recently
I just did a quick blog post listing that kind of products open source alternatives: https://www.juliendesrosiers.com/2021/03/13/open-source-self...
It's becoming more common these days to see serious businesses go open source from the start and gaining significant traction. Like Plausible, Gitlab, Bitwarden, etc.
Is there really no way to mark a column as "not null" or make a unique id that auto generates, or say a date column that gets set on insert?
I don't think these are very advanced features to ask of a SQL database and am confused why they appear to be missing.
Once I looked up the HTTP url it worked fine, so I think you may have a permissions issue in gitlab.
Glad to see competition in the space.
...but, the data is yours, the software is yours, the solution built on it is yours. Noone can raise the prices, noone can give unrealistic/stupid limits (eg. how many queries can you do per month in your paid/free package,...), and noone can take your data away.
Clearly you've never had to go to hours and hours of change management meetings for a minor release.
If something changes, you atleast can delay the change, until you fix other components (or maybe even not update, if it's some internal stuff), because with SaaS, you have no say about it.
Even if the project becomes unsupported, you can still run the old version, until you find 'something new' (or again, keep runing the old for internal stuff).
If you build anything around a SaaS provider, they alway have yu by the balls,... be it with ever changing pricing or killing the project, "just because" 
it's like a taxi vs a free car + free parts, and all you need is gas and time to do service.
Yes, that's the exact point I'm making. You have to pay someone to manage something like this. The point (edit: okay, not the point) of this sort of software is to try to minimize those costs, but at the end of the day you still have to pay for them, and often even more.
It’s more work, but if you host something on LAN you eschew many security concerns. You can more easily track what it’s pinging and who it talks to. If it’s open source, you can audit and adjust the code too.
It’s all about priorities.
Baserow looks so polished, very impressive for such an early stage project. Loved how easy it was to get the auto generated API working too!
Even by myself as a developer, I handle my to-do list with Seatable and apparently, using a raw db isn't comfortable at all.
That's some poor imagination.
One classic example is: How do your ORM/libraries provide you tool to define a calculable "name" field, which is equal to "firstName + lastName", with option to store it as a database field ?
Sure you can pay up for Access or Sharepoint, or whatever offerings Microsoft has that do give REST APIs (I’m honestly not familiar with them). But this is free and open source, and anyone can put it on a web server and start jamming :)
The things that they are copying are themselves also copies of earlier products. Airtable can be traced back to MS Access, DBase and I'm sure there's even older examples.