Access to bases on mobile devices while offline


#82

I have been experimenting with Airtable as a simple CRM solution and I like the performance and ease of use. I cannot use it it without an offline mode. I agree with most that read only option would work for me as a individual use only but I do understand the complexity for collaborators. I will have to cease use and it is unfortunate for such a great product.


#83

Offline mode on mobile is of vital importance to the app. Doesn’t make sense without it.


#84

How would you want to use Airtable offline?
I use airtable to organize pretty much everything at work (dog grooming salon)

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
Alone for now

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?
I’d like to create and edit records, ideally adding documents (photos) as well.

For how long do you need to be able to use Airtable offline?
I’m in a fairly remote location - if the Internet goes down, I’d need to be able to access it all day at work, before finding somewhere I could sync in the evening.

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
Very tolerant

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
Probably desktop


#85

Airtable - please can you update us as to where you are with development


#86

Yes please, especially important if you are in a region with poor or slow connectivity!


#87

I’m a freelance musician and use Airtable for oh so many uses: besides fun things like tracking travel and reading lists, I have several bases for my professional work. I have a Music Library database, a teaching repertoire base and an ensemble coaching base where I track the repertoire and schedules for the multiple ensembles I run. I keep running into the lack of offline access as a major stumbling block.

How would you want to use Airtable offline? Tell us your story. Are you a world traveler, wanting to find a way to look at your elaborately designed base of sightseeing spots without having to pay exorbitant roaming charges? Are you a construction baron, sending out remote workers to to survey your newly acquired plots of land? Are you a deep sea diver on a solo expedition in the Marianas Trench, logging undiscovered species of hagfish on the ocean floor? Do you just have really terrible WiFi in the boiler room under the stairs, where the boss moved your office?

I have a teaching studio with no internet (and I want to keep it that way) so entering music into the library base means schlepping scores from my studio to home. I also teach all around Europe in different venues, very often without internet. It is a huge pain to make sure I sync my music to my ipad before going out to teach, especially as Airtable doesn’t always play nicely with my music apps.

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators? (Resolving merge conflicts when someone is the sole collaborator on a database is far simpler than doing so when you have multiple collaborators, some of whom are online and some of whom are offline, and all of whom are editing different things.)

I am the only editor for my bases. If I share them with students, it is read-only.

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline? Do you just need a read-only version of the contents of your bases that you can access while offline? Or do you need to have the ability to edit the contents of records while offline? Or do you need to have the ability to change the database schemata while offline? (In order, these are: comparatively simple to implement; difficult to implement; incredibly difficult to implement.)

Need to read for sure, would like to edit contents (i.e. enter new records). Do not need to change database schemata as these are quite static.

For how long do you need to be able to use Airtable offline? For a few minutes, as you drive through a tunnel? (Please don’t Airtable and drive.) For a few hours, as you sit in an airport terminal and refuse to pay for overpriced WiFi? For a few weeks, as you trek through the farthest reaches of frigid Nunavut?

For several hours a day.

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually? One potential way of alleviating the issues that arise with resolving merge conflicts is to force end users to make decisions on how to solve specific conflicts. This, however, comes with its own set of potential problems (e.g. being stalled by having to resolve a merge conflict when all you want to do is work, your co-workers getting mad that you merged over their data without their permission).

No problem, this would rarely cause an issue.

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile? Anecdotally, it seems like many of the people who want offline mode want it for mobile, but it would be good for us to get some clarification on that front.

Mobile only.

Thanks for keeping us posted with how this is going!


#88

It’s been over a year since this thread has started. I’ve recently became an airtable enthusiast . Then heard a huge record scratch when i realized there’s no offline mode.

I was using airtable to plan over the seas shoot. This is a huge drawback and disappointment.

Is there at least an option to export bases to a pdf?


#89

Count me amongst those that want offline access and not having it is a deal breaker. I still use Airtable but can’t use it as much as I’d like to or confidently roll it out in my business without offline support.

To answer your questions:

  • I would use it offline all the time. Right now I’m traveling and can’t continue using Airtable as an over-powered gift tracker for the upcoming holidays. Moreover, I would like to use in in my construction business to track and log job site info, punch lists, etc… We don’t always have great coverage, and nothing is more frustrating than losing data I put into Airtable because I didn’t have a consistent connection while adding info. It also puts a huge strain on my phone’s battery, especially when trying to add a couple of photos to my database.
  • I mostly use Airtable alone, but would probably use it with others if it could be implemented when we’re offline.
  • It would more likely be used for looking up information stored in Airtable and maybe adding records, not so much back and fourth collaboration.
  • I would expect to be able to use Airtable offline for a few hours at a time, like on a flight or job walk with no data access.
  • Merging conflicts manually (with a dialog box) would be fine and give me the confidence that my bases are getting the right info and not worry that the computer is screwing things up in the background.
  • Offline would by far be used with the iOS apps, but it would be nice to know I could use it on a laptop offline.

Thanks for listening.


#90
  1. How would you want to use Airtable offline?

We are working with the city government on a program that will do audits of low-income housing, by the residents, so that they can get their needs met more efficiently. These surveys will include things like whether the lights are functioning in hallways, etc, and monitor how quickly they get fixed. Many of these apartment complexes have poor cell phone reception so it’s essential that our platform allows offline use.

  1. Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?

With collaborators - although in this particular use case we aren’t talking about editing the table, simply inputting data into a form.

  1. How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?

Entering data into a form view, and saving it.

  1. For how long do you need to be able to use Airtable offline?

A couple hours, at most.

  1. How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?

Probably fine although I doubt in our use-case there would be conflicts.

  1. Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?

Mobile.


#91

Is online mode in development? Folks have been eager to see this feature for over one year now. The lack of this feature completely prevents me from using the app, but it is the best database app I have found for iphone. When can we expect the update?


#92

I hate to sound cynical here but could it be the problem is not strictly technical but one of conflict with the present business model? An offline mode essentially turns Airtable into a stand alone app? For single users all that is required is sync functionality between devices. This of course would elimate the need for subscription service which has been the trend for a few years. I would pay a reasonable price for stand alone apps for all my devices. I believe this would be a very useful and popular option and convert many of the free users like me into paying customers. Airtable is hands down best in class but upgrading is not so attractive without stand alone functionality.


#93

Completely agree. The lack of this feature prevents any possibility of using this excellent database… bye

The thing that most worries me is the lack of response by Airtable to the requests of so many users… for over a year. And mostly when it is something found in other products…


#94

Love this app, event thought about upgrading. But a missing offline mode in 2018 because the development might be too difficult? This is poor. This might be a feature for non-collab tables at first? Even the crappy Synology DS Note app caches notes offline by default. But there’s always an alternative for almost every service. Even for Airtable.


#95

@Airtable_Team did you give up on the offline feature ?


#96

Add me to the list of users that consider this critical. I constructed a detailed base of sights I want to see during an overseas trip. One field is a checkbox to indicate we went there so I can keep track of places left. Previously we would have used a simple checklist (which pales in comparison to Airtable) in Google Keep for this. It was only after I was done that I wondered what offline access is like. Having read-only access while you sort out a solution would be understandable but having NO access to our data when offline is a deal-breaker for me. I’m going to have to go back to using Google Keep for this (which allows offline access for shared notes I might add).


#97

How would you want to use Airtable offline?
Read only copy of the database is good enough.

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
My band uses airtable to keep sheet music and set lists.
So number of people need read only access to the database during a gig.
No editing needed

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?
Read only.

For how long do you need to be able to use Airtable offline?
Couple hours.

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
No problem.

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
Mobile.


#98

How would you want to use Airtable offline?
Updating content/status of records

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
Mostly alone, but possibly some bases with a few collaborators.

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?
create, edit and delete records, but not change table structure or relationships

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
Manual resolution would be fine.

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
primarily mobile

I would be fine with a feature where you could “lock table for offline access” and the structure couldn’t be changed until the table was manually unlocked to provide one more layer of protection against conflicts. Most of the structure design I do is at the start of a base (probably 90-95%), so structure changes after it’s in “production” are less common.


#99

How would you want to use Airtable offline?
Update and view bases offline, sync changes when connection becomes available again.

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
Alone

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?
I’d expect to be able perform all tasks offline, and sync changes once I’m online again.

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
Absolutely fine with me!

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
Desktop primarily, likely in travel situations like airplanes.


#100

I’ve worked in IT for 45 years (yes - 45 years! www.roysheridan.com) and Airtable is one of the most elegant and well-thought-through applications I have ever come across. It’s a joy to use, which makes the lack of offline capability only more frustrating, as witnessed by the volume of contributions to this thread. I also understand the challenges of conflict resolution. Which is why the problem needs to be segmented…

The majority of contributors use Airtable solo and would be happy with read-only. Therefore, Howie and Katharine, you should address this segment first and as a priority, thus satisfying the 80:20 rule. A more sophisticated solution can follow. Currently, no-one is happy and - believe me - you are losing business.

How would you want to use Airtable offline?
I have implemented a system for managing all aspects of a small vacation rental property business and it has made my life (and my accountant’s!) a lot easier. I would like to have a system for managing all my contacts and to-dos as I have yet to find an integrated system that does a good enough job (Apple’s products are pathetic in this area). But I would have to have offline access (e.g. when travelling).

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
Alone

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?
I would prefer to be able to update, but read-only will do. Don’t need to change structure.

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
Single-user with no structural changes should not create any conflicts!

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
Both.


#101

How would you want to use Airtable offline?
I travel to remote places all over the world. I would use offline Airtable on a mobile device and on a laptop. Much project information is needed to be shared back with my associates.

Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
While there might be many users who would read Airtable data (either online or offline), probably no more than 5 or 10 would actually edit data, and only 1 or 2 would actually change the schema (though very unlikely to edit schema offline).

How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?

  • Read the data frequently.
  • Edit the data occasionally. However, I would be willing to forego editing in offline mode, if I could make notes on a record so that I could edit later when online. I would want some way to easily see a list of all notes made offline so I could do the edits later online. [This could be another table “Comments” with the fields “Table” for the table needing the edit, “Field” for the field needing edits, “Change” for what you intend to change, and “Completed” for marking that you’ve done it. You could probably get fancy and automatically create a link from the “Table” and “Field” fields back to the place the user intends to update.]
  • Add records frequently. It seems that I should be able to add a new record off-line without disturbing the base. (Granted there may be some trigger issues… but I think you could treat this as a record added when a user is back online)

How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
Willing to do this if necessary. However, the notes feature above relieves both Airtable and myself from much of the problem.

Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
Both