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What's new in January: Regex in Airtable & Zapier loops

What's new in January: Regex in Airtable & Zapier loops
By Aron Korenblit • Issue #41 • View online
Today 6PM EST on the stream I’m excited to welcome Chris Messina, Product designer & Alfred App expert founder to come talk about Automating with Alfred App.
You can add this invite to your calendar to tune in live or follow on twitch to get notified every time I’m live.
Full calendar of future guests here. You can add all future streams to your calendar by clicking here (it auto updates!).
You can watch last week’s replay of Airtable vs Spreadsheet with Ben L. Collin, Google Apps expert & Sheetscon founder.
Onto the update…

As much as I enjoy sharing my thoughts on the user generated software/automation space, there’s really only so much I can say! A lot of you seem to come here for more tactical knowledge which is something I love sharing. So here’s a first stab at sharing more practical tips & learning from my favourite tools.
Let me know what you prefer, should I share more or less of these?
Regex in Airtable
Airtable recently added the option to use regular expressions in the formula field. It went under the radar but it’s a pretty big deal!
So first, what are regular expressions?
Regular expressions are a way to search for patterns in strings or text. You may be familiar with text functions in formulas in Airtable (and their equivalencies in sheets) such as “Find”, “Left”, “Mid” etc. These text functions help you (find), extract (left, right, mid) or replace (replace) substrings. This is extremely useful in sanitizing data, formatting strings the way you need them etc.
They can help you answer questions like “Is there an @ in this email address” or “give me every letter until the first space”?
You’ll notice that in each of these formulas, you need to input the substring you’re looking for (or use a combination of “length” and “find” to extract substrings).
With those functions, it’s not possible to know whether a pattern is present. You can’t identify something like “Is there text between two dots?” or “Is this URL valid?”. With regex you can identify, replace or extract based on string patterns.
For instance, you can say “are the letters a,b,c present separated by at most one character” as seen here:
This will return true for “a1b1c” but false for “a11b1c” and “abc”. You can see how this gets complicated pretty fast (what if it can only be separated by specific characters? Separated by a few characters? More complex patterns?).
I am in fact a regex neophyte but luckily there’s Stack Overflow where you can get the answer to most things you’re looking for. For example, I was looking for a way to validate URLs (which Airtable doesn’t do even in URL fields) and found this thread which suggests the following regular expression which I obviously would never figure out on my own:
But now, all I have to do is copy paste that into a regex_match formula and voila:
Some additional resources on regex:
Are you using regular expressions? Are you going to use them?
Zapier loops
Zapier loops is in beta! For now, it looks limited to looping on simple arrays but you can imagine this is the beginning of Zapier closing the gap on one of the main differentiating of every other automation tool: working with multiple inputs.
Andrew Davison, Zapier expert, had the scoop:
Andrew Davison
🚨 Gamechanger alert...

@Zapier is going live with looping. Probably the biggest feature since paths.
I haven’t had proper time to play around with it but I’m excited to see where this is going and will write about it once I’ve dug in.
In other news
I have trouble tracking all the news throughout the week to share in this section so I revert to fundraising announcements. I’m hoping this stream on iOs Shortcuts with Matthew Cassinelli on February 17th will help. If you have an interesting article you’d like to share here, feel free to DM me on twitter or reply to this email.
Alloy raises $4M to build out its e-commerce automation service – TechCrunch
How To Solve the Quality vs Consistency Debate ∊
Thanks to Stephen O'Grady (@orishnal) for reviewing this newsletter every week before it reaches your inbox!
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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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