Documenting use of Airtable in the OR docs

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Paul Mackay

Feb 25, 2021, 1:03:59 PM2/25/21
to OpenReferral
What do people think about adding a section about the use of Airtable to the official docs? Would this help make adoption and reuse of this technique easier? Or at least linking to a separate doc about it? 

Are there any reasons against doing this?



Mike Thacker

Feb 25, 2021, 1:16:03 PM2/25/21
to Paul Mackay, OpenReferral
I'd like to see a full description of how Airtable is used.

We found the limits on numbers of records made AirTable infeasible and wrote a tool to feed an API output into Googe Sheets. It's just one way but not subject to the constraints we found with AirTable. 


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Paul Mackay

Feb 25, 2021, 1:21:07 PM2/25/21
to Mike Thacker, OpenReferral
Hey Mike,

Sure, I can imagine the constraints could be an issue. But for small scale use it has some UX advantages. Perhaps same could be true for Google Sheets, but that might need a sheet with some scripting?

Perhaps the question could be generalised, is it worth having a Patterns section or similar that could document ways of using tools like these?

Notion might also fit into this category, when their API opens up (likely fairly soon).


Rob Redpath

Feb 26, 2021, 1:59:32 AM2/26/21
to OpenReferral
I'd like to see this, for sure - and a Patterns section in the docs sounds good. We introduced the concept of non-normative documentation in HSDS 2.0 so it's much easier to add/change/rearrange guidance concept between standard versions now.

I think the docs could form a really good starting point for documenting how people create and use data that uses HSDS, so that we can avoid re-inventing the wheel and we can understand each others' approaches, constraints etc. I'm really grateful for the way Mike and the OR-UK team have shared their work at - I'd hope that anyone else adapting OR for a local context could learn a lot from the process they've gone through and seeing what at least some of the possibilities are.


Devin Balkind

Mar 1, 2021, 12:10:22 PM3/1/21
to OpenReferral
What content would be appropriate?

We have a bit of a history/context post here:  have posts about Open Referral + Airtable here:

And here is a more technical explanation along with a list of all the differences between the template and Open Referral:

Happy to help with this - just need a bit of guidance about next steps.

Paul Mackay

Mar 2, 2021, 3:47:24 AM3/2/21
to OpenReferral
IMHO a useful way to structure a pattern on this would include much of what is in the "Human Service Data Standard (HSDS) 2.0 Airtable Template" document, perhaps with a writing style that is more neutral as part of the HSDS documentation. There might be a consistent structure to a pattern that could emerge over time, e.g.

How to use - this could include the bulk of the "Difference between the Airtable Template and HSDS" section
See also

In a See also section it would be great to link to both the documents you mention Devin, as refs on how the use of Airtable came about.
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