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Scripts, Webhooks, Airtable Sync, Nobull, Data Fetcher -- what to use when?

Scripts, Webhooks, Airtable Sync, Nobull, Data Fetcher -- what to use when?
By Aron Korenblit • Issue #51 • View online
UPDATE: By popular request, the stream is back on the Automate All the Things Youtube channel! Same format, same time, just on Youtube :). Subscribe here!
Today 1PM EST, for this month’s What’s new in Airtable I’m going to showcase how to use Airtable’s incoming webhooks trigger to integrate any tool with Airtable. Webhooks are the glue of the internet so once you harness their power, you can truly automate anything!
You can add the stream (and all future streams) to your calendar by clicking here (it auto updates!) and subscribe on Youtube.
Full stream calendar here.
Onto the update…

Heyo!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about escape valves in no-code which I felt was a little theoretical so I wanted to follow up with a more tactical piece contextualizing all of this new functionality.
If we zoom out, Airtable offers many escape valves. You’ve got the stand alone Airtable scripting app, scripts within automations, and now the incoming webhook trigger. Add to that tools like Data Fetcher which let you run any API call from Airtable once (or on a schedule), Nobull app which sync only Airtable & Webflow. Then layer on new primitives like native Airtable sync
Answering the question “What should I use when?” becomes difficult.
Here’s an example: Alex Wolfe (aka the Airtable wizard) wanted to keep track of updates to prices for items on his gaming wishlist so he setup an automation (at a scheduled time) that periodically pinged an API (run script action) to update the prices.
𝘼𝙇𝙀𝙓 𝙒🧭𝙇𝙁𝙀
Airtable base (like this one https://t.co/vYnpjGWu0v)
+
https://t.co/M5jxfq3WgH API 🙏
+
Airtable Automations 🤖
=
Automated gaming wishlist pricing checks, all in Airtable 🎉
To get to Alex’ level of sophistication takes quite a bit of work. You need to differentiate different Airtable triggers (learn about them here) and how to write scripts (learn about APIs in Airtable scripting here).
Otherwise, you can also just use Data Fetcher which is much simpler. Simple copy paste the cURL code, set the timer and be done with it.
So how do you wade through all of this?
There are essentially two types of syncing mechanisms. The first is syncing based on events: when something happens in Airtable (or in another tool), go ahead and reflect that change in another tool (or in Airtable). This is the principle, a trigger and then actions, on which Airtable automation, Zapier and IFTT are primarily based. Zapier has the advantage of integrating with thousands of tools which Airtable automation does not. So how do you go around that? Incoming Webhook (trigger) and scripting (scripting)! Here’s the flow chart:
The second type of automation is time based, not event driven. This is commonly known as syncing (but can confusingly be accomplished with Airtable automations). Examples include checking whether prices have changed in the last 15 minutes, updating Webflow CMS items with the latest information from Airtable using the Nobull app or pulling in Jira tickets using the native Airtable integration. Three syncs using 3 different parts of Airtable’s platform. Confusing, no?
Here’s how I think about this:
Now, Airtable Sync and Airtable automations are still very new! They were both launched in September last year. Expect this decision to be much simpler to navigate with additional native triggers/actions being added, increased sync capabilities (multi source one way sync launched recently!) and additional sync partners.
Until then, we’ve got the escape valve and this decision tree to work with!
Now I know this was much more technical than my usual post here but working through it helped me understand the big picture, hopefully it’s helped you too!
From the interwebs
I saw this chrome extension that makes it easier to view and manage Zaps. I’m a sucker for good chrome extension but haven’t dug into this one. If you do, let me know how it goes.
Refined Zapier - Open-source browser extension to improve Zapier's UX | Product Hunt
This week it’s Andy Wingrave (@andywingrave) who was the first (at least in my feed) to discover this new native Zapier action to create a round robin selection. Another example of work arounds becoming native functionality.
There are probably things that happened unrelated to Zapier in the world but they did not make their way to my eyes. If something piques your attention and you’d like me to include it in the newsletter, do not hesitate to let me know (ideally on twitter). I am a sucker for making my job easier.
Keep building and until next week!
Aron
Thanks to Stephen O'Grady (@orishnal) for reviewing this newsletter every week before it reaches your inbox! Even when he’s the one writing the piece!
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Aron Korenblit

Weekly thoughts on the working smarter not harder using no-code tools + a weekly Airtable tip. Written by Aron Korenblit

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