Our custom built solution syncs some pretty complex finance data and attachments around the world and we don’t have to worry about resolving conflicts. The way we manage this is to effectively assign someone as the master database admin who can make structural changes to the data and layout of the master database. Other users can either only enter new data records and push them up to the server. Or, they can pull down existing records after ‘checking them out’. This acts as a record lock like in a traditional database design. It’s more of a push / pull process than a true sync, but along with only letting users edit their own records, then you don’t have to worry about conflict management and works perfect for offline access.
Once records are ‘pushed’ up to the server, database admin can ‘lock’ a set of records once they’ve been reconciled, effectively taking them out of ownership of the local user.
As long as each record belongs to one user, there aren’t any data integrity issues and you can download a full view of all the data as any user (depending on permissions), but you can only edit what belongs to you.
For single users, you get everything. You just have to remember to ‘push’ the data back up when you get a connection, but this can be done automatically.
How would you want to use Airtable offline?
Use case 1: Collect data including health statistics from villages in rural Asia where there is zero connectivity for days at a time. Push this back up to a central command and control clinic to analyse and summarise.
Use case 2: Collect finance data from team on the move in rural areas including expenditure. Push back up to central server once connection allows.
Do you use Airtable alone, or with collaborators?
How much do you need to be able to do in Airtable while offline?
Add new records to a defined layout
View existing data that belongs to user
Read-only data from other users
For how long do you need to be able to use Airtable offline?
Hours, days, weeks. The reality is that if it’s offline, it’s offline, it’s not about seconds, or minutes, it’s just the data is sitting on my offline device until I next have connectivity.
How tolerant would you be of having to resolve merge conflicts manually?
No tolerance. I don’t feel that it’s needed if you have clear record ownership.
Would you primarily be using offline mode on desktop or mobile?
Primarily mobile devices (Tablets and Phone) but in reality, if I loose connection on the desktop in the jungles due to the sat phone going down, I don’t want to stop working.