New: Attachment annotations

We just launched a feature called attachment annotations that lets you leave comments in a specific position on an Airtable attachment. You can give fast, clear, actionable feedback on any type of visual asset to help speed up your creative process.

asset_review

We currently support annotations on images (JPEGs, PNGs, and GIFs) and videos (MP4 and WebM). For more information on how to use this new feature, please see this support article for specifics and our blog post for a broader look at the asset review process.

And, we’d love your feedback! Leave any comments or feedback here in this topic.

7 Likes

Woaa, that’s pretty cool

1 Like

Thanks, we think so too! Do you plan on using this in your own base(s)?

Yes, and especially so if this issue is ever resolved. :wink:

2 Likes

Would it be possible to extend this functionality to PDFs? I am using this Airtable to track issues with a design project, and it would be amazing to annotate drawings in the same way. Great product!

4 Likes

Feedback: Instead of releasing features that cater to one of Airtable’s Enterprise customers who requested that particular feature, does Airtable have any plans or roadmap to address the pressing needs, bug fixes, and feature requests that the greater userbase has been repeatedly requesting for 4+ years in these forums?

1 Like

That’s not in our immediate plans @Michael_Gunner, but something our team may consider further down the line!

Hi Michael, and welcome to the community!

Just sayin’ … if you name this feature “Attachment Annotations” and promote it for “any type of visual asset” but then only deliver this capability for certain types of attachments, it may come as a surprise to users, and above all, software teams need to mitigate surprises because users don’t like to be surprised unless it’s a magically smart surprise. This is the opposite of a magically smart surprise.

I understand why it’s not as easy to annotate PDF documents, but this is [yet again] one of those instances where Airtable has half-baked a feature. Is a PDF document not a “visual asset”? And it’s not just the lack of PDF support; consider the annotations themselves; no access via the API, and lacking this, we can’t even add PDF annotation support separately.

Oddly, there is a well-defined specification for adding annotations to PDF documents (without changing the document itself) and a vast collection of open-source libraries to choose from. While images do sometimes flow through workflows and approval processes, I have a hunch that PDFs are just as important in the conversations and workflows for business content.

Surely, we can all agree that there are fringe attachment cases. Would we expect it to work for JSON documents? Probably not. But for PDFs? Hmmm, there are about 2.5 trillion of them. Do they matter? More importantly, do conversations about PDF documents matter greatly? I think so. Airtable opened Pandora’s box with attachments. Now it must be prepared to fully bake the idea.

There is no world in which PDF annotations should not be in your immediate plans and should have been in this plan.

7 Likes

Doubling down on the request for PDF support. As one of the most common document formats on earth, especially in the context of teams needing to review and comment on things (legal, purchase orders, flyers, press release, basically any kind of last-draft deliverable ever), this seems like a pretty aggressive exclusion (and a deal breaker for us). If the goal is to only target creatives, marketing departments and ad agencies sure stick with images and videos, but that would seem to pretty severely limit your potential user-base on this feature. Overall this is a potentially solid feature that just got knee-capped in both legs before it left the starting line.

4 Likes

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback @Bill.French @Spencer_Mullaney - I’ll share this with our product team who are looking for this type of input.

1 Like

Great discussion. Thank you for amplifying my comment!

Is there a way to view these comments on the mobile app?

Viewing attachment comments looks the same as record comments on mobile. However, writing attachment comments is currently not available on mobile.

Since the Commenting on Attachments feature was implemented, none of my PDF documents that are saved to attachment fields are working correctly. I do not get a preview display of the PDF document. Instead there is a blank screen and the PDF doc automatically downloads (without warning or notification). This results in multiple copies of the PDF file getting downloaded.

I am making extensive use of Formstack Docs app to create PDFs and store them in attachment fields and this has become very problematic.

I have seen several threads on the Community Forums indicating similar problems but then those threads are closed and supposedly resolved but that is certainly not the case in my apps.

Is there a way to revert back from having Attachment field commenting automatically turned on? I really need to be able to preview a PDF file in the attachment field and only want that file to download when I actually click the download button.

I could be wrong, but I have a hunch this is not related to the new feature. Rather, it suggests that the URLs you are using to add the PDF documents as attachments are instrumented in a manner that causes your browser to force the download process instead of rendering the document in a preview.

My previews are still working and I have many comments on them.

Hmm, the PDF document is getting created via the Formstack Docs app and nothing has changed with respect to how that was configured. It has worked flawlessly prior to the commenting feature being activated but not now. I’m not sure how to identify any URL associated with the file getting sent to Airtable. When I go to the attachment field, here’s an example of what I see:

Without doing anything else other than clicking on the attachment field, the PDF is getting downloaded and there is no indication to the user that a download is in progress. I’m at a loss for how to proceed…

Indeed, the timing looks like the new feature may be causal. However, before we can rule anything out (or in) we need to isolate a few behaviours first.

If you take the document that was downloaded and manually re-attach it to the same record, does it render properly thereafter?

No. If I upload the PDF doc to the attachment field, I get the same issue, no preview of PDF itself and only the screen view shown in my previous post. Clicking into the attachment field automatically downloads the PDF too. Weird behavior.

The workflow associated with this base ends up creating 6 PDF docs, via Formstack Docs, all of which previously created and stored the PDF in the appropriate attachment field correctly. If I go back and look at some of the historical records, none of the PDFs get previewed properly in their corresponding attachment fields.

Very strange - so… either the PDF itself is triggering this, or there’s a new bug in Airtable likely related to the recent new commenting feature.

Have you manually tried attaching and previewing a random PDF document? That’s all I’m doing and it seems fine.

Yes, I’ve tried dropping another PDF from outside the Airtable app into attachment fields with the same result.