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How to decide between Airtable, Coda, Notion, and Sheets if you need a database
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How to decide between Airtable, Coda, Notion, and Sheets if you need a database

A guide to help you choose the right software for your database
This guide will help you decide what’s the best cloud-based software for your database depending in your use case, whether you simply want to have a list of all you tasks or if you want to bring all your company’s data and create a dashboard.
Here are five questions you should ask yourself when deciding what’s the best tool to store and customize your data:
Does your team need to edit your database and collaborate?
Do you need to bring your data from other data sources (like Shopify)?
Are you using formulas to calculate outputs and customize your data?
Do you need to visualize your data and add text to explain what it means?
How large is your database? Will you have 1,000 rows or 100,000 rows?


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Airtable
Powerful apps that connect your data, workflows and teams
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Notion
A unified workspace with tables as databases.

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Coda
Coda brings all your words, data, and teamwork into one powerful doc.
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Google Sheets
Spreadsheet, with individual cells.

What do these platforms have in common?
They are all cloud-based software. That means that they load directly on your browser and you don’t need to download any desktop application.
You can collaborate and invite other editors to your database.
You can have rows and columns with different types of data (text, numbers, dates, user, etc)
Formulas
Formulas allow you to use data in the table and calculate outputs. You can use formulas to calculate the sum of sales in a column or to build custom outputs like a string of text with data.
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✅ Basic
Basic formulas included.
✅ Basic
Basic formulas included.
✅ Advanced
Advanced formulas included.
✅ Advanced
Advanced formulas included.

Integrations
Integrations is how you can bring data from other platforms (like Salesforce or Gmail) to these platforms and also push data to other platforms. All these platforms have an API that can be used to create custom integrations.
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✅ Yes
You can find 30+ integrations or build your own.
✅ Yes
You can find 30+ integrations.
✅ Yes
You can find 165+ or build your own integration.
✅ Yes
You can do it by creating custom-code integrations using Google App Script.

Data Visualization
Data visualization is transforming the database values into visual graphs like a bar chart or a pie chart.
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✅ Yes
Pie charts, line charts and bar charts are native features.
🚫 No
Can’t create charts natively in the platforms, you need to install an integration.
✅ Yes
Pie charts, line charts, timeline, word cloud and bar charts are native features.
✅ Yes
You can add custom charts.

Pricing
All of these platforms offer a free tier and have a subscription-based pricing model. The difference between platforms relies on who has to pay for collaboration, sharing and commenting.
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💰 Collaborating, sharing and commenting is paid
Starts at $12/monthly per seat

💰 Collaborating, sharing and commenting is paid
Start at $5/monthly per seat

💝 Collaborating, sharing, commenting, and viewing is always free
Starts at $12/monthly per Maker (the ones who create a doc)
💝 Collaborating, sharing, commenting, and viewing is always free
Free for anyone creating or editing.


Performance
Performance is the combination of capacity (how much data can be stored) and speed (how fast calculations run). All of these platforms are cloud-based, so your computer’s capacity could also affect performance.
The larger the database, the slower the software can be; so if you’ll have tens of thousands of rows, you might want to use a platform that can support that.
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Their Pro tier has a cap of 50,000 rows.
Currently supports 20,000 rows but changing constantly.
Currently supports 20,000 rows but changing constantly.
Supports 10M cells (or about 100,000 rows)


Writing surface
What if you want to communicate with words and data in the same place?
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🚫 No
Text must live in table cells; there is no traditional document surface.
✅ Yes
You can have text, images and tables in the same document.
✅ Yes
You can have text, images and tables in the same document.
🚫 No
Text must live in table cells; there is no traditional document surface.


Native Automations
Automations have triggers and actions, triggers are usually time-based or row-change based.
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✅ Yes
Native automations triggered by time and row change.
🚫 No
You can use Zapier or their API.
✅ Yes
Native automations triggered by time, row change or webhook.
🚫 No
You can use Google App script to build custom code.

Forms
Using a form is one of the best ways to bring data from a forms you share to your database.
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✅ Yes
You can turn your database into a form and publish it or embed it.
🚫 No
No native forms feature available.
✅ Yes
You can turn your database into a form and publish it or embed it.
🚫 No
You need to use Google Forms and then connect it to your spreadshee.


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