Improvements to Automations

Hey everyone! I’m Helen, the product manager that looks after our Automations product here at Airtable, and I’m really happy that you all are finally seeing the navigation changes that teams at Airtable have been hard at work on. Alongside these updates, I’m also excited to share a series of improvements that we’ve made to Automations in this new navigation that let you focus on creating and editing automations while being able to reference the data you need and make it easier to change up the steps in your automation.

Specifically, you’ll now be able to:

  • See your full list of automations on the left-hand pane, similar to views in the data tab
  • Open a table or view that you need to reference without leaving the automations tab
  • Drag and drop actions to reorder them or move them across conditional groups
  • Duplicate an action to easily reuse the logic

Huge thanks to the community for helping us improve upon this product. We’re always striving to make the product better, so as you start using this new experience so please don’t hesitate to drop any feedback you might have!

These updates will be rolled out to 100% by end of day tomorrow. If you aren’t seeing these changes reflected, please try clearing your cache.

New layout and view into data:

Drag and drop:
drag

Duplicating actions:
dup

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The preview window for table data is pretty nice. I like that it shows both the table and view you’re previewing.

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Thanks for these really great changes, @Helen_Zeng!! :smiley: :raised_hands: :medal_military:

One automation improvement that I’d love to see is for automations to automatically turn themselves off if somebody accidentally deletes a field that was acting as one of the triggers for that automation (or if they change the view filter for a view that triggers an automation).

This would give the opportunity for the person to undo their field deletion (or undo their view filter change) without the automation accidentally triggering for possibly thousands of records.

This has happened to at least 2 of my customers in the last few weeks, and even though they immediately “undid” the accidental field deletion, it was too late — their automations already started triggering on 15,000+ records.

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Welcome to the community @Helen_Zeng !

Absolutely loving all of this :100: Great work!

:heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

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Thank you for the update notice, @Helen_Zeng! Looks great! :star_struck:

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Thank you for these product updates!

I really like how it is much easier to navigate to the automation run history.

I was a little disoriented by the list of automations moving from the right side of the screen to the left side, but once I get used to it, I think it makes sense to have the list on the left.

In addition to being able to move the actions around, I would also like to be able to move the list of fields around in the “Update record” and “Create record” actions.

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@Helen_Zeng

Just a side note whilst using Automations in a trial workspace - unfortunately Automation Scripting is greyed out during an active trial.

I ask Airtable to consider this hard limitation, and at least allow a minimum of Automated scripts to be had during this trial period. Not allowing automated scripts places consultants into an awkward position of building a base that is unable to leverage Automated scripting - which is a major selling point of Airtable.

I respect that this was turned off due to the potential of being abused, but surely there’s give-and-take here, where exceptions could be allowed upon request to either Sales or Support.

Automations list side panel and floating table view are huge improvements. Thank you, @Helen_Zeng

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This feature is only available on recent bases, can’t see it on my older (before 2020) bases…

Nevermind, you must click the “Open overlay” small button above the table selection…

Really cool, thanks for these updates!

As I just found out myself, despite of being warned by @ScottWorld…, this is a HUGE risk of firing 1 or more automations unwillingly. In my case: having “when record enter view” as a trigger; having a checkbox as the filter to make records enter that view and then change the checkbox to a more dummy proof single select field. Although the checkmarks convert nicely to a “checked” option, KABOOM, filter on view is gone and every record in the base enters the view :expressionless::man_facepalming: Luckily for me, without big consequenses.

@Helen_Zeng, is that something that makes sense to put on your backlog?

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Am I experiencing A/B testing, or is this something else?


In one base, I see this icon which opens the table in a new browser tab.
image

When I have a lot of screen real-estate, I prefer opening the triggering table in a different browser tab. This gives me full control of changing views, adjusting field visibility and width, etc.


In another base I see this icon which opens a sliding overlay of the triggering table.
image

I find the sliding panel confusing. I call it a sliding overlay versus a floating panel, because I can only slide it sideways. I cannot move it up or down; it is attached to the bottom of the screen. I can collapse the panel, but I cannot resize it. The panel seems to behave a lot like a locked view, except there are no frozen columns. I can open the view in a new browser tab.

When I have limited screen real-estate, the sliding overlay is nice. However, I have no control over the view that is chosen. What if the first view in my table doesn’t show the fields or records I need? I still need to open the table in a new browser tab.

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You do if your Automation is set to pull from a particular View. The View box has its own selector. Obviously there are some advantages to using conditions vs a defined view, but this is still an option for many use cases. For people setting up steps based on Condition, putting a toggle/box/option for a specific view to preview would likely be confusing (“why are you asking me for a view, I want to select records by condition”), that selector if present would have to be on the table preview window itself.

An alternate for having a sliding panel is to have the window take up the bottom half or 1/3rd of the center pane (where the automation steps are). That way you’d be able to control its width by collapsing or resizing the List of Automations (left) and the Step Settings (right) panes.

Yes, but I rarely have an automation pull from a particular view. I feel it is safer to set conditions.

Plus, there is no chance to pick a view for the “Update record” or “Create record” actions.

I don’t want to clutter the interface by having users select a view in these places. I’m just pointing out a usability issue that could use some thought. I think it is a complex issue and don’t want to rush to a solution.

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A pop up warning would be nice.

“This view/table is used as a trigger in xyz automation. Are you sure you want to do that?”

or

“Sorry, you don’t have permission to make this change. Please speak with the admin/owner of your account.”

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Right, there should be a View selector within the overlay panel. The “Open overlay” icon launch the last opened view from the Data panel.

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You should be able to resize it from the upper right corner! We can think about ways to make that more obvious

Thanks for the feedback on this, and it’s something we’re thinking about. Out of curiosity, could you talk about how often and why you might change the view in the panel?

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Ah yes. Now that you point it out, I can resize from that corner. I am used to resizing things from either the sides or the bottom right corner.

The upper right corner of the panel is already quite busy with the minimize and close icons. When I don’t want to do either of those things, I tend to avoid that corner since I don’t want to accidentally close it.