NOW() function is not refreshing properly

Using the NOW() function in a formula no longer updates the time reliably, even after refreshing the base. It only returns the original time that the formula was created, but then it doesn’t update reliably beyond that.

I’m specifically referring to a formula that just has this as its formula: NOW()

I’ve noticed that within the last few days, this brand new disclaimer was added to the formula reference page for both the NOW() function and the TODAY() function:

***The results of this functions changes only when the formula is recalculated or a base is loaded. They are not updated continuously.

Forget that this sentence has several grammatical errors in it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: The real problem is that the described behavior is incorrect. (And the behavior has changed on us.)

I created this formula: NOW(), and it starts off with the current time. But then, I refreshed my web browser over a period of 5 minutes, and the NOW() formula didn’t refresh at all.

Then I re-read the new disclaimer that the formula is only recalculated when a base is LOADED — so I went to the home screen and reopened the base, and no change.

Then, I completely logged out of Airtable and logged back in again, and Airtable still didn’t update the NOW() formula at all.

After about 9-10 minutes, I hit the refresh button on my web browser, and the function finally updated with the proper time.

Also, @Justin_Barrett: didn’t you figure out recently that TODAY() and NOW() would refresh on their own in the background, even if nobody launched Airtable or even if nobody was using Airtable? Looks like they’ve possibly changed that behavior, so that behavior might now potentially be gone?

If the NOW() function and the TODAY() function really don’t update on their own in the background anymore, then this new behavior could negatively affect any sort of external automation that depends on time triggers.

@Taylor_Savage @Jason @Raghav_Sethi

Interesting…I thought that disclaimer was always there on the documentation for both TODAY() and NOW(). I haven’t seen any change with the actual behavior, though. My task system still refreshes every day at around midnight thanks to a formula with NOW() in it, but the refreshing of that (and TODAY()) has never been constant. From the last tests I did a few weeks ago, it’s about every 7-15 minutes. I didn’t bother to check exactly how frequently, so that’s a pretty wide ballpark guess, but it matches your experience with the manual refresh.

My gut says that you’re just discovering the delay that I found in my last test, which I’m fine with, and which (as far as I know) will still happen in the background. However, maybe something did change after all. I’ll report back if anything goes awry with my task system refresh tonight.

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I can confirm that the disclaimer about when NOW and TODAY update has been there for a while.

The behavior you describe is also consistent with what I have historical seen.

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Thanks for the insights, @Justin_Barrett and @kuovonne! :slight_smile: I guess I never noticed that disclaimer until a few days ago.

Okay, so it seems like the information they’ve provided in the disclaimer is incorrect — it doesn’t really update when the base loads, but it updates on its own internal time schedule — somewhere between 7 and 15 minutes.

Okay, that’s great to know. I’ll report it to them to update the disclaimer.

I’ve seen NOW update in less than 7 minutes when I’ve been developing a base. I’m not sure the exact interval of time, though. The update might have happened sooner due to me making other schema changes though.

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My nightly update automation ran as planned, so I don’t think anything has changed.

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Fantastic! Thanks so much for this excellent information, @kuovonne and @Justin_Barrett!!

One of my clients emailed me a few nights ago in a panic because his formulas weren’t updating properly in his base, and that’s when I stumbled down this rabbit hole. It’s good to have a better understanding of how this really behaves.

Thanks so much to both of you guys for the clarification!! :slight_smile: :raised_hands::pray::star2:

I’ll also reach out to Airtable Support to ask them to please update the information on that page to perhaps indicate that these fields just update on their own interval that we can’t really control… but that it happens relatively frequently.

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