Going back to a 2017 Medium blog post, Ben had been tinkering with the idea of building out a new way to interact with Airtable. In this legendary blog post Ben puts together a Serverless CMS/Blog System based entirely on PaaS (Airtable, Glitch & After tinkering with this idea for a few years, Ben saw his opening with Airtable Blocks.

Airtable by itself is a great tool to brainstorm ideas, bootstrap apps, or create the occasional side project. Airtable makes it easy to start with a spreadsheet-like UI/UX, but has enough power as a relational database. Even as a web developer, Ben can tell how powerful it is to have something like Airtable at his disposal, he even has some production apps running on top of Airtable to this day!

That’s why we think there’s a lot of potential extending the power of Airtable to be more developer-friendly, but not constrained by code, as no-code tools have become as powerful as code itself.

What it does

BaseQL provides a dynamic GraphQL API for Airtable bases. BaseQL is built for allowing speed of development without the hassle of a managed database. It enables engineers and low/no coders everywhere to put a custom interface on top of an Airtable base.

Whether you are a data engineer stitching multiple data sources together or you are building a brand new application, BaseQL has the power of GraphQL with the reliability and user interface of Airtable.

How we built it

We rely on the powerful Airtable Custom Blocks API to dynamically create GraphQL endpoints on-the-fly. We then ask the users to install our Custom Block and provide their API Key (until there’s OAuth or throwaway keys support) to fetch the data and transform it to GraphQL format (the magic!).

We use a standard modern stack which includes Javascript; Node.js and React running Serverless on top of the AWS infrastructure.

Challenges we ran into

The biggest challenge we faced was managing the API key because no OAuth or single sign on existed at the time of making our first version of the BaseQL block. This presented a challenging proposition for most users who needed to copy and paste in their Airtable API key.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We worked diligently to identify early users and reached out to them for feedback. They were very generous with their time as they provided invaluable feedback which helped shape the product into what you see today. Taking that a step further we had one of those early users use BaseQL in production which we are very proud of. It is a testament to the quality with which the product is built.

What we learned

Airtable is truly a powerful relational database but it’s customer base is loyal and very creative. With that being said many developers we spoke to felt like they were missing a modern way to interact with Airtable and that BaseQL filled that void. Talking to different pro users we heard Airtables expansive and every growing list of use cases in applications. This included internal tools, data science, production applications and proof of concepts.

NoCode tooling and applications is a market that is having a moment of explosion...and we think BaseQL + Airtable can provide the data for the drag and drop builders no coders are accustomed to.

What's next for BaseQL

Launching to the general public for every Airtable Pro user to benefit from a new way of interacting with their Airtable base. We plan on continuing to build out additional features and continue to grow the BaseQL following.

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