Example 1: A (very) simple Quora-like Question and Answer App built with the free version of Airtable. (2/25/2021)
Note: To see the actual app screens, go to:
Quora allows visitors to:
Ask a question
Browse through the random questions on the main page
Select a topic and browse through questions on that topic
Search for a specific subject, phrase, keyword(s) or user name
Those are the basic functions that need to be included in any Quora clone (even a very limited one). To create an Airtable app like that I started with an empty base and added 3 tables: Questions, Answers, and Users. The “Questions” table looks like this:
The “Questions” column is a “Long text” column, the “Topic” column is a “Single select” field type, and the “User ID” is a “Single line text” field type. Users can simply browse down the random list of questions the same as they would on Quora. Or they can click on the magnifying glass on the far right near the top of the screen to search for questions on a particular topic or questions containing a particular word or phrase. For example, if you want to take another look at a question you saw but you can only remember a part of the question, click the magnifying glass and enter the portion of the question that you can recall. The app will highlight any questions that contain that phrase.
Note: The "Questions" column has to be the first column in the Questions table since we want to be able to link that field to the Answers table. To establish a link to a particular field in a table, that field has to be the first or "primary" field in the table.
Users who want to answer a question can click on the “Answers” tab. The Answers table looks like this:
(Click the "Answers" tab in the app)
To answer a question you found on the “Questions” screen:
Go down to the first blank row and click in the “Rec No.” field.
Tab to the “Question” field and click on the “+” sign in the upper left corner.
A pop-up box will display all the questions on the “Questions” page:
Where it says “Find an existing record”, start typing the text of the question you want to answer. As you type the number of questions will narrow, showing only those that match what you've typed. When you see the one you want to answer, click on that question.
The topic and user ID associated with that question will display in the “Topic” and “User ID” columns automatically.
Click on the “Answer” field and enter your answer (Note: Rich text is enabled for this field so you can use italics, bold characters, etc.).
Press ESC to exit the “Answer” field, then tab to the “Author ID” field and enter your user ID.
If you need more room to enter to answer, place the cursor in the Answer field , and press Shift/Space or click on the small double arrow in upper right corner of the field. That will display the Answer field in a larger pop-up box.
The third table in this example, the “User” table, lets you enter a user ID, your name, and a short bio about yourself. Entering a user ID isn't required, but it does allow others to track your questions and/or answers.
To make an Airtable app available to everyone (with the ability to view and edit all the data), just create a base collaborator link:
Click on the “Share” button near the top right of the screen, then click on “Base” in the “Add collaborators” pop-up box.
Click on “Invite by link” in the “Share (app name)” pop-up box.
Change the “Creator” access to “Editor”, “Commenter”, or “Read-Only” if necessary.
Click the “Create” button and copy the link generated by Airtable.
To see this Airtable no-code example in action, just enter this URL in your browser:
Note (3/02/2021): It has been pointed out that that questions and answers should be dated and that it would be nice to have a way to rate the answers. We'll add the dates - I'm not sure about the rating system.
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