Formulas are a vital part of a good database because they provide rules that manage our data in automated processes. That sounds super fancy – and while accurate – it makes formulas sound more complicated than they need to be.
More simply, formulas eliminate redundancy.
And this fact is what makes them so critical to a good database.
Imagine a scenario where you enter a due date for a task. Simple enough. Now let’s suppose you wanted to track when you were completing tasks. Again – easy stuff. Simply create a new data field that holds ‘completed dates.’ Assume your purpose was to compare your completed dates to your due dates. Awesome – you have all the info you need!
Now, in many cases when I am asked to help with an Airtable base, I find situations like this. All of the data lives in the table already and it’s time for some analysis. Yet, what I find sometimes is that bases are built in a way that requires more manual work! Instead of building the base to perform this analysis automatically, the base is built to require more manual entries. For example, perhaps the base has a third field where users are expected to enter the difference in days between due date and completed date after performing the arithmetic in their heads.
This type of architecture is making more work for its users.
This problem could easily be solved with a formula.
Yes, formulas can be complicated. Yes, sometimes getting into the logical operations can be a mind-twist. However, getting through the struggle is worth it.
On the other side of the desert lies an oasis of automation.
This video does a deep dive on formulas, specifically focusing on the elusive “Nested IF Statement.” Also making an appearance are the LEFT, FIND, and DATE ADD formulas.
Please note, if you are new to formulas, this might not be the best place to start.
But, if you can make it through, you’ll catch my two tips for writing complex logic:
- How to break your process into separate formulas for individual testing
- Using output variables to simplify building Nested IFs
While this is not a lighthearted topic, it is a critical skill to master in building a complete Airtable base. And with that, a base that does most of the work for you, which allows you to focus on growing your business.