Group using multiple select field, without creating a new group

Justin, sorry to say this, but your answer pushes a technical complexity onto the user to work around. Airtable is all about user experience and solving technical challenges so the user doesn’t have to, but can focus on his addressing his business challenges.

Users don’t want to know about records and why in a grouped view the same record can’t appear twice. This is technical database bullsh*. The business problem we are trying to address is very real, so Airtable should solve the technicalities of it for us.

If an item X is assigned to multiple groups (say A+B or B+A, the order being irrelevant), from a business point of view I want item X to appear under all groups it is assigned to (under group A and under group B). Whether the view shows an additional “combined” group (A+B) under which item X appears a third time, might be a group view config option.

10 Likes

This is an old thread… but had the same issue, will post solution in case of use to anyone else.

There are two concepts being mixed here, the idea of the relationships and the view. The view is just a representation, so by filtering you can create what you want.

  1. create a new field “entry count” ~ type = count, choose the record (X) you want to group by
  2. filter by count, where count = 1
  3. group by (X) record

Now the groups with multiple page entries will be hidden

Would appreciate a hole lot Andrew if you would explain in other words your process here cause I unfortunatly don’t follow… are you talking here of a formula that goes like this? “entry count” ~ type = count… For me still a newbie in Airtable…
Thanks! Luc

Found this ‘‘count’’ field. Thing is it tells me this: ''You need a link field to create a count. Create the link field before configuring this count field.
And then when I click on Create field, it tells me this: ‘‘Sorry, there was a problem creating this field. The options are not valid.’’ … I don’t follow here.

@Luc_Poitras My gut says that @Andrew_Tennison is referring to a link field, not a multiple-select field. That’s the only use case where his suggestion works because count fields won’t work with multiple-select fields.

What he’s suggesting is to make a count field that counts linked records from a link field, add a filter to only show records where that count equals 1, then group by the link field.

I agree that this functionality would be very useful! I understand the technical challenge that Justin described, but since Airtable’s answer to reporting is the Group feature, I hope someone is working on a way to solve it!

3 Likes

That doesn’t feel like an accurate statement from my experience. While many users clearly want the group feature to be used for reporting, I don’t believe that Airtable ever intended for it to be used as such, which is why I don’t believe that it’s necessarily a problem that needs to be solved. My impression is that apps (formerly blocks) are where they see reporting happening, or possibly through solutions that tap into the Airtable data via the REST API.

That’s a completely different statement than “Airtable’s answer to reporting is the Group feature.” Yes, you can use grouped records to create reports, but that doesn’t imply that it’s designed to be the perfect reporting mechanism for all use cases.

I didn’t say it was. Take it easy, Justin.

1 Like

Thank you Justin (Late response from me sorry) for your response on May 6.

FWIW we use Wrike for project management and it does precisely this. I can create a multiple select custom field with a set of choices and create a report that groups by those choices. I get a report with a group for each choice that displays the record in the group no matter what other choices are selected in the multiple select field. It’s perfect for when I have multiple resources or attributes on the same project and want to see the project reported under each resource or attribute.

1 Like

There are a lot of other users asking similar questions. The response is frequently “use a linked table for the values.” While this is part of the solution, it doesn’t solve the core pain. It’s unintuitive to go to a different table to see a certain grouping, and it doesn’t afford the same editing experience. I understand that it “breaks database convention” by showing the same record multiple times in one table, but we’re already breaking convention by visualizing the data in groups. Data as visualized ≠ data as stored. This many people (see just a fraction listed below) asking for the feature is a sign that the feature is valuable.

For example, say I have a Roles table and a Teams table, a Role could be part of many Teams, and a Team is therefore composed of many Roles. If I want to see the Roles grouped by Team, I currently have to go to the Teams table to effectively view this. What I really want is to be in the Roles table and see a grouping by per Team, where the Role records is listed under each Team, and makes multiple appearances where applicable. IMO this should be the default; I’m struggling to think of a use case for the existing grouping behavior.

Just a few of the people asking for this:

It’d be awesome if a community manager could merge some of the product suggestions to raise the vote count.

14 Likes

Following this thread as our team is also in need of this type of feature. We need to be able to easily have the data be grouped and have records display twice in some cases, to be able to export to a PDF for photo shoots. This would be a huge time saver for the team. Any updates on if this will be on a future roadmap? Thanks!

I also need this feature. Creating easy to make visual user interfaces is what sets Airtable apart from a program that is only a database, and easy grouping is a key part of that.

1 Like

I posted another response to this but for some reason, it got flagged as spam but I would love to see this feature.

Secondly, Justin, your explanation above doesn’t foot. As I understand it, VIEWS are independent of data, so there is no need for multiple records if the View technology is designed to read the data, then create the view with pointers to the record. In other words, the view doesn’t present actual database records, just data read from the records.

This is a feature that isn’t new. I’ve attached a link to a video of how it works in a database application written in an OLD system (Lotus Notes). This was an extremely powerful feature with many advantages. I really hope Airtable takes a deeper look at this and figures out a way to deliver this capability.

In the context of the demo that you showed, you’re correct. However, as currently designed, Airtable views are dependent on the data, and they’ve been that way for a long time. While some long-time features do change on occasion, there’s no telling if this one will (mainly because Airtable is notoriously mute when it comes to talking about their development roadmap, with the upcoming Table Talk session where they plan on doing so being the only exception that comes to mind since I signed up). I’m not saying that it won’t ever change, but my gut says that it’s very unlikely.

Hi Justin, thanks for the reply. I didn’t mean to suggest that Views aren’t dependent on data - all views should be, it’s just that they are independent structures that reference and read data.

The reason I believe this capability is entirely “doable” within the current design of Airtable is because we can create copies of Views. These View copies do not duplicate the data, as changing a record in one View is reflected in any other View of that data. So each View is referencing a common data structure independently of others.

I hope this makes sense. As indicated by others on this thread, this is a feature that would be met with resounding acceptance…and in my case…“joy”.

Thanks.

3 Likes

Just chiming in that at my organization, we could definitely use this functionality!

You know what’s funny here? If you look in the “Chart” block and specify an X-axis field that’s a multi-select, you’ll see an option to “Split multiple values”. So clearly, Airtable knows the importance of this feature in visualizations – but not enough to implement it the Group mechanism for Grid views.

All we’re asking for, is an option to “Split multiple values” for each selected Group field – that’s it. It can be done; it’s already been implemented – it’s just a matter of Airtable surfacing this functionality better in Grid view.

2 Likes