Can Automatons be Triggered by Date Comparison without a Record Updates?

Hi! Newbie here! Loving AT to far.

I want to automatically notify my sales team 2 days before a trial is set to expire, so I have a TRIAL START DATE date field, and a DAYS LEFT IN TRIAL formula that does a DATEADD and DATEDIFF to get a days count, that counts from 30 down to zero. That is, your 30-day trial starts today, and every day when I log in to Airtable, I expect the DAYS LEFT IN TRIAL to decrement by one. This all works fine.

My question is, can I create an Automation trigger, based on this DAYS LEFT IN TRIAL, checking for when it reaches 0, and initiates the automation? Note that no actual “update event” happens anywhere in the DB. This is just day by day passage of time. I am worried that the developers of AT would require some kind of database update / change for triggers to get calculated.

Thanks! : )

Welcome to the Airtable community!

Yes, an automation can be run based on a date comparison without a record update. Use the when record meets conditions trigger. Your {DAYS LEFT IN TRIAL} formula field probably includes either the TODAY() function or the NOW() function. Although these functions do not update continuously, but they do update periodically even when you are not logged in–most users experience a lag of 5-15 minutes between updates of NOW().

Note that these functions are based on GMT time, if your users are in a significantly different timezone, your users might experience the dates reaching zero at a different time of day than you expect.

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Airtable has now published how often the NOW() function updates in this support article.

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@ScottWorld, @Justin_Barrett

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Interesting. I ran a test the other day, and it was updating every 10 minutes on average. At times the interval was very precise, other times it was a minute or two longer or shorter. Only one time do I recall seeing an update interval of five minutes. I don’t recall for certain whether the base was open or closed, though I think I had closed it specifically to test how that affected the update.

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Thanks for discovering this updated paragraph, @kuovonne! :smiley::raised_hands::star2:

That’s fantastic that they’ve given us extra clarification on this! This is extremely helpful! :slight_smile:

Two things, if the Airtable team is reading this:

  1. It would be great if the NOW() information was updated on the formula field reference page as well.

  2. It doesn’t mention how often NOW() updates when API calls depend on it, but I’m assuming that it’s the “once per hour” timeframe.

p.s. I think that if they really want to compete against the 80-pound gorilla that just entered the room to try to crush Airtable, they’re probably going to need to add in precise scheduling features into the Automations.

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I think this update documentation is very new, and it is possible that the documentation isn’t quite accurate.

As a former technical writer, I tend to take any published information both seriously and with a grain of salt, depending on how much review the info got from subject mater experts who are not always available.

Neither interval quite matches test that I performed last week, but Airtable could have easily changed things since then.

Btw, I was typing very late at night when I tagged y’all. If you know anyone else who wold find this conversation interesting, feel free to tag them. @Jason

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Yeah, it’s strange. What they wrote there doesn’t match my experience either. :man_shrugging:t2:

Ha, I love this!! :joy::sweat_smile: And makes perfect sense.

Ah, good point.

Hi everyone, thanks for the input around this!

Good idea - we’ll add this to our formula field reference.

The update interval does vary a bit, but should range around 5-10 minutes. We can update the reference in that article to better reflect that approximate range.

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While you are at it, could you also document when TODAY() gets updated? I assume that it is only once per day around midnight GMT, but it would be nice to know for sure.

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Thanks so much, @Jason! :slight_smile: Over the last several months, I’ve submitted a ton of suggestions for that formula field reference page through the feedback form at the bottom of that page, but I haven’t seen any updates yet to that page. Do you know if somebody is actively reviewing those submissions? I’ve given a ton of great ideas. :yum:

And yes, what @kuovonne said about TODAY() as well. This was one of my suggestions that I submitted through that feedback form.

Sure thing!

We do! And thanks for what you’ve submitted. We’re working on dedicating some more resources to article content improvements so we’ll be making changes more often.

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@Jeremy_Oglesby would find this conversation interesting :wink:

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Do you have plans for a support portal where users can see a history of all the feedback they’ve provided and status updates? I’m thinking support tickets, beta signups, beta feedback, watched support pages, etc.

Sorry that this is straying from the original topic.

@Jeremy_Oglesby So sorry!!! This is the second time this has happened to you. I deeply apologize. My only excuse is that it was late at night and there are too many J names. @JonathanBowen Shoot. This is why I normally don’t tag a bunch of people.

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No worries, @kuovonne – no need to feel bad. I’m definitely interested in this thread, but you certainly don’t owe it to me to tag me all over the forums. I take no offense whatsoever. I tend to discover forums threads anyhow by sheer brute force of threads read :grimacing:

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