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What's next for Zapier and 3rd party automation tools?

What's next for Zapier and 3rd party automation tools?
By Aron Korenblit • Issue #58 • View online
Today 1PM EST on the stream, I’m welcoming none other than Connor Finlayson! Earlier this year, Connor moved to Canada and we’ve been having weekly calls where we’d work through workflows, pitch tools and answer each other’s questions. There was so much value in these discussions, we thought why not have them on the stream? We’re starting this week!
We’re calling it No-code talk happening every first Wednesday at 1PM EST of the month! Think of it as a mini no-code conference every month.
You can add the stream (and all future streams) to your calendar by clicking here (it auto updates!) and subscribe on Youtube.
You can catch last week’s replay of Automate contracting with Airtable and Hellosign where I helped my old boss create a one click contracting process from Airtable!
Onto the update…

Heyo!
Last week, I had my old boss Emre on the stream. It got me thinking back to my first job in tech and how it influenced everything since. In fact, he introduced me to Zapier! Or maybe I googled connecting Google sheets to Hubspot? I don’t quite remember. One thing’s for sure is that it was his name on the credit card so in my books he was responsible for me discovering Zapier and then no-code generally.
Zapier was the first tool that made me feel like I had a superpower, that made me believe I could automate anything. A tool that gave me superpowers!
Zapier sits at the intersection of so many trends: the proliferation of SaaS tools, every SaaS tool taking part in the API economy and a general lack of developers.
Looking back, it’s shocking how little Zapier has changed. Here’s a blog post detailing the origin of the company. Two co-founders texting about an idea: what if we could create a tool that connects all the other tools. A straight arrow from an idea to a 4 billion-dollar company?
However, it feels like we’re on the precipice of other trends that might not be so favorable to Zapier. But do they even matter?
Every tool now has (or will have) automation built-in
Every year, Zapier releases their assessment of the state of automation that details the fastest-growing apps on Zapier. Looking across the years, you’ll notice that it’s mostly the same apps! Or at least the same types of apps. Email, chat, CRM, spreadsheets.
As categories develop clear winners, users will come to expect more of each app they use. That includes “if this then that” type automations! Salesforce, Monday, Asana, Airtable (some of the most popular apps!) all offer built-in automation. None of the in house automation offerings come even close to Zapier’s coverage in terms of apps but every new app integrated natively reduces the probability of needing a third-party automation tool.
All of these tools building their own version of Zapier would love to shortcut that process by embedding a third party that already has all of the connections built out. Naturally, Zapier would never offer that since it would cannibalize its own clients at a much lower price point. I wonder if anyone out there is building the “white labelled” Zapier?
Is it crazy to think that one day most apps that we use will have automation built in? That probably won’t be the case. And if it is, it’s a long ways away, unless that is if someone makes it easier for everyone else to do so.
The market is much larger than we think
With that said, we’re still in the very early innings of the proliferation of SaaS tools. I keep hearing that no-code is just getting started and I agree. I’d even go so far as to say that we’re still in the early innings of software on the internet! Even with the threat of in-house automation tools from the most popular applications, Zapier has so much greenfield that it can probably continue growing for quite a while. What is surprising is that you’d expect an attempt from Zapier to target international markets! However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, none of their content is translated and they don’t offer any different plans by location. Maybe the market is so big that there’s no need yet to go beyond its initial market. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
With all of this said, I’m still a Zapier user! Maybe that should be the yardstick: as long as I’m still using it, they’ve got some road ahead of them.
Airtable tip: prefill forms
Speaking of Connor Finlayson, he’s our inspiration for the Airtable tip of the week! He recently released a video on how to prefill form fields in Airtable.
In Airtable you can prefill a form by adding parameters to the URL. Say you want a single select to prefilled to an option, you can do so by adding ?prefill_ to the form URL then the field name (replace spaces with + signs) field+name= and then the value of that field, together that becomes:
airtable.com/shr?prefill_field+name=value
If you have two variables you want to prefill, it would be
airtable.com/shr?prefill_field+name=value&prefill_field+name1=value1
These work perfectly if you want to create a URL that always prefills the same values in the form. However, in most cases you want the value to be dynamically inserted. For instance, you want to prefill a user’s email when sending them the form. To do that, you need to create a different URL for each user in your table! Instead, create a formula that dynamically inserts the value you want to prefill. It would look like this:
As anyone who’s ever seen me attempt to do this live on the stream, it can get a little tricky as you’re adding a bunch of fields you want to prefill. Luckily, Kuovonne from the Airtable community created an the Prefilled forms app that generates this formula for you based on the fields you want to prefill! Map the fields you want to be prefilled and it spits out the formula for you to copy paste!
Also, is it pre-fill or prefill? 🤷‍♂️
Tool of the month: Levity
This month’s tool is levity.ai. Levity lets you rise above mundane tasks. It’s an if this then that type automation tool that has the added benefit of automating recurring tasks by adding in AI to do the fuzzy stuff.
You can add a step that uses AI to check whether a document is complete, auto tag requests/support tickets, check onboarding documents and much more. Check out common use cases here.
Sign up to Levity here!
From the interwebs
Last week I mentioned Github Copilot which I thought was a code only tool. However, it seems like you can use it in Google sheets! 
clem 🤗
Similarly to @Github copilot, you can now do question-answering in Google Sheet thanks to the TAPAS model from @GoogleAI & the @huggingface inference API.

Machine Learning making its way in each and every product! Great job @osanseviero! https://t.co/L4wPACvvqr
I steal most of my video tricks/tips from Jason Staats. He’s the owner of an accountant firm and runs a community of tech oriented accountants. He’s announced he’ll be releasing a course on how he does video. If you’re into video, I recommend you check it out.
Jason Staats 🔨
I finally shot videos #8-14 in this series today

Here's the final list of video topics 👇 https://t.co/9CZUkgB8DJ
One of the segments on no-code talk is going to be “not another job board” where we highlight and go behind the scenes of a no-code project to understand how it’s built. It’s so great to see cool no-code projects in the wild (built by 8020!)
If there’s an article you’d like me to share, feel free to tweet at me @aronkor or DM me there!
Until next week, keep building!
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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