How to prefill forms in Airtable

Airtable is a great business tool. You can use it to perform amazing feats that elevate your team’s productivity to new heights. You can even use it to plan a party. Actually, that sounds great — let’s throw a party.

First, we’ll need to invite people. One of the best ways to handle RSVPs — whether it’s for a conference, a team picnic, or a fundraiser — is to use online forms. And to make things easier on our guests, we want to send each person an RSVP form that already includes their name and contact information, so they don’t have to fill it out themselves.

Inviting friends

Let’s say you’re throwing a surprise party for a friend. You know everyone who’s coming, so you already have all of their contact info.

When you send them the invite, it would save them time if their contact information was prepopulated in the form. You can use a prefilled Airtable form to do just that — and they’ll appreciate that you care enough to set one up.

The Airtable RSVP form will look something like the screenshot below. In this example, we’ve pre-populated the name, email address, and phone number for Susan Shipley. Susan just needs to enter the names of her two guests.

Now you just need to make sure that Susan gets the invite link to the form with those fields filled out. Unfortunately, Airtable doesn’t have that functionality built in, so we’ll have to use a workaround.

Constructing the URL

In order to send a prefilled form in Airtable, you’ll need to encode the prefilled fields into the URL you send out. You’ll need two tools to help you do that.

First, URLs don’t use spaces or special characters, so you’ll have to reformat those so browsers can read them. This is early ’90s tech — you know, before they knew the internet would blow up like it did — so it’s a little complex.

Our first tool will be a URL encoder. Second, you’ll need a plain text editor, like an internet-based notepad.

When you’re ready, grab the URL for your Airtable form and paste it to the text editor.

At the end of the URL, type ?prefill_. That’s a question mark, the word prefill, and an underscore with no spaces. Spaces aren’t allowed anywhere in a URL.

Now you have to add each field name and its contents to the end of the URL. The field name contents combo will look like this: ?prefill_field=value. Replace field with the field name and value with the contents of that field.

But that won’t work out of the box. You’ll need to convert spaces and special characters to URL code. To do that, drop the field name into the URL encoder. Then drop the value into the encoder.

You can skip encoding if the text is just one word and contains no special characters. Also, you can replace spaces with a plus sign to avoid an extra step.

When you’re done, the encoded prefilled email address should look something like this:

?prefill_email=susanshipley%40example.com

To add more prefilled fields, use the same format but start with an ampersand instead of a question mark. Here’s the whole enchilada:

?prefill_email=susanshipley%40example.com&prefill_first+name=Susan&prefill_last+name=Shipley&prefill_phone+number=%28310%29+555-1212

And here’s the finished URL:

https://airtable.com/shrRN9ZaROOlsPxl9?prefill_email=susanshipley%40example.com&prefill_first+name=Susan&prefill_last+name=Shipley&prefill_phone+number=%28310%29+555-1212

Congratulations! You’ve taken your first step toward learning to speak in computer language.

It gets better, though. Now you get to do that for every single friend on your invite list. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

OK, if you’re like most people, it doesn’t sound fun at all. Fortunately, there’s a much better way.

A much easier approach

The fact that Airtable even has a form option is pretty awesome. And you can do some amazing things with it. But it’s still not a standalone form tool with all the trimmings.

If you want to prefill a form or do any of the many other things that Airtable’s form view can’t, try Jotform.

Jotform has thousands of form templates to get you up and running in minutes. And every Jotform feature is free to use until you start to use it on a larger scale.

You don’t have to abandon Airtable for Jotform either. Jotform Prefill 2.0 connects seamlessly with Airtable via an integration, so you can choose which fields from an Airtable file to prefill into your form.

So why not go try out Jotform today and get the party started? Or, you know, you can go back to manually building URLs. It’s totally up to you.

This article is originally published on Mar 02, 2022, and updated on Mar 25, 2022.
AUTHOR
Lee Nathan is a personal development and productivity technology writer. He can be found at leenathan.com.

Send Comment:

Jotform Avatar
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Comment:

Podo CommentBe the first to comment.
Get a special deal on Jotform.<br/>Today only!

Get a special deal on Jotform.
Today only!

Sign Up Now Not Now