Field lock - to avoid delete

I am using AT for my law library. Recently, after having manually entered details of >4000 cases, I was very tired, I still am - puppyitis - and accidentally deleted a field. Wonderful. I checked the snapshot only to find the latest I’d taken predated numerous entries and the latest AT had done also predated many entries with no way of my knowing which and what. I have added a new field and started entering the information again.

When I told someone what I’d done they were surprised that I hadn’t backed up. I can’t. I said, i am using a cloud-based app which doesn’t allow back-ups whenever I like. The manual snapshot interval is very long. In the app (non-cloud0 I’ve been using for my law library I can save whenever I like which i do as I go.

My question is this - and if not a question then a suggestion. Is is possible to lock a field so that if an attempt is made to delete it a warning comes up “do you want to delete”?

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That’s a great suggestion. I think it would be a great idea for Airtable to lock down the “structure” of Airtable to prevent people from accidentally doing things like deleting fields. I also think it would be great for the snapshots to automatically take place more often on their own — such as hourly or daily.

However, if it has been less than 7 days since your field deletion happened, you can simply undelete your field by going to the trash can, which is right next to the snapshot icon. That trash can holds all of your deleted fields, records, views, tables, and apps for 7 days.

So if it’s still less than 7 days, you will still be able to recover your field.

Be sure to email suport@airtable.com with your suggestions as well!

Noted, thank you.

i didn’t know about the undelete. Too late now. Still, am finding oversights and mistakes so opportunity to correct them

I was going to post a related suggestion but since it’s same ballpark, I’ll throw it in here. The accidental deletion of fields happens from time to time. If you have a lot of fields, you don’t notice quickly it’s missing. You may have a formula in your table that suddenly stops working and the only way to find out is there is a small exclamation sign indicating broken formula (usually missing field that was part of the formula). Now you have to fish around deleted fields to see which one was it. The formula shows error but it doesn’t tell you which field was the one you deleted (it shows some reference string to missing field).

(On a related note… we need to see the error about missing field or broken formula somewhere in the visible area of the table, not like now I have to scroll all fields to check if there is an error somewhere, that makes it even harder to spot accidental deletions).

Anyhow, back to the topic. The risk of accidental deletion is there and I strongly below it is necessary to be able to lock fields from accidental deletion.

If that’s not in the cards for Airtable, then at the very least, separate the Delete command from the Hide command in the right click menu. They are so close next to each other. And yes, I do get a message asking if I want to delete it. But I am not going to deny it, after a few hours looking into Airtable, one becomes grumpy and accidents happen.

Here is example how it could be visually separated through different colour highlight either permanently red background or the background would turns red when activated by mouse over it.

The issue is you don’t even get a prompt message box asking you if you … “seriously-seriously want to delete that field, because by deleting you are getting into some serious trouble because there are dependencies on this field …”

For instance. I have lots of formulas and relationships linked to that single field. If I happen by any accident deleting it, the whole database goes havoc and since there are so many fields and tables, it’s a day’s job to find out which field was deleted.

The error messages on broken relationships in formulas are unhelpful and given how serious the issues of broken linkages are, the yellow exclamation signs are subtle and you have to go in a fishing expedition to find out where things gone missing.

The fields with errors due to broken links show unhelpful field references to dead fields (not even showing the name of the original field before it gone missing, need to look at the panel with history to get that).

Having snapshots is the last resort but it’s again time consuming to play the detective when things are being updated continuously.

And secondly, whoever happens to not be on a Professional paid plan, the chances you will be able to restore is null after 7 days… Unless of course you make manual backups of the base on daily basis.

So yes, the “delete field” command is dangerously easy to hit and then accidents happen.

I’ll send them support email too.

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