Product Suggestion: Please stop showing new View Sidebar

Airtable what is the deal? We have been complaining for a month now - that’s way too long for an “experiment”. Revert this, fix this, deal with it please. It remains awful.

I agree. This new sidebar truly destroys the Airtable experience. Please be sure to email support@airtable.com with your comments, because they don’t monitor these forums very closely.

We definitely welcome feedback directed to our support team, but our our product team does monitor the feedback shared here. Feel free to continue sharing thoughts here in the community :+1:

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Nice, this is great to know that you are watching & listening to us here! :slight_smile:

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I manage a SaaS product myself. If so many of my users (or even half) clearly told me what they like and don’t like in an experiment - I would listen and act.

No kidding. Personally, my biggest disappointment with Airtable is that it frequently feels to me like the Airtable team has not cultivated an internal corporate culture of listening to its users or having a dialogue with its users. It often feels like a huge disconnect between “them” and “us”, and it feels very disheartening to me personally, because I often feel voiceless.

The way that I personally experience this playing out in the real world is that it frequently means poorly-chosen features, half-baked features, or buggy features. Even when we report problems in the product where things are legitimately broken (e.g. the URL preview block won’t work with 100% of Vimeo links, the Maps Block creates constant extraneous unnecessary API calls to Google Maps which costs people real money with additional Google charges, and dozens more problems), the issues very rarely get fixed. But most frequently, the lack of dialogue with its users results in half-baked features (i.e. kanban views, calendar views, and expanding linked record fields comes to mind).

The old dropdown menu for switching views was clearly superior in a dozen different ways (including the simple facts that it didn’t cut off lengthy view names like the new interface does, and it didn’t keep shifting the user interface, and it didn’t take up valuable screen real estate) — yet Airtable seems insistent on rolling out the inferior sidebar fo everyone.

At the very least, give our users the OPTION of choosing the superior dropdown menu interface (i.e. the original interface) or the inferior sidebar menu interface (i.e. the new interface). Another new user today just posted about this here:

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Please refrain from making exaggerated statements such as the one quoted above, particularly when attempting to portray your personal opinion as fact.

I’ve had the new menu since I started using Airtable, and just today got changed to the old menu; as someone who often switches between views, having to first click to get all the views and then click the view that I want is driving me crazy…so no, the old menu is not “clearly superior”.

It boils down to this: everyone has their own preferences, and no single solution will satisfy everyone. And for something so critical in the UI, it should be ensured that everyone finds a good solution - even if they’re in the minority.

Consequently, the solution in Micrososft Outlook, as described by user Kamille_Parks above, seems to be the best of all worlds - users can choose whichever layout they want, and the choice is remembered between sessions. Simple.

Lastly, the new menu does let you collapse it if you’d like…but the old one doesn’t give you any choice whatsoever. The issue seems to be (although not sure since I never tried it) that the new menu does not remember the user’s choice; if it did, I think it would already be able to satisy a-lot of users’ requirements.

Here you go, @Christian_Galea: IN MY OPINION, the old dropdown menu for switching views was clearly superior.

By the way, if you have a lot of views, the keyboard shortcut command-shift-K works great with the original dropdown menu that you now have on your end. You just type in that keyboard shortcut, type a few letters of your view name, and hit return to switch to that view. It’s really awesome. (This keyboard shortcut doesn’t work so well with the new sidebar — see below.)

Yes, I totally agree with @Kamille_Parks that giving users an Outlook-type choice between a “drop-down menu overlay” (the original Airtable interface) vs. a “sidebar panel” (the new Airtable interface) would be the best possible solution — because then everyone can choose the interface that they prefer working with. That would be the best of both worlds! :slight_smile:

However, if Airtable only wants to choose ONE interface option on our behalf, I would vote against the new sidebar for the 5 reasons below.

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Like The New Sidebar:

  1. Cuts off lengthy view names, so you can’t see what the name of the views are at-a-glance. You need to hover your mouse over the view names in order to see the full name.
  2. Shifts the entire screen left & right every time the sidebar opens and closes, which is extremely disorienting.
  3. When open, it takes up a significant amount of screen real estate. If you’re working on a small laptop screen, a big chunk of your screen is taken up.
  4. Requires 3 clicks in 3 dramatically different areas of the screen to open the sidebar, select a view, then close the sidebar. Tedious & annoying.
  5. Command-Shift-K is no longer a reliable keyboard shortcut to use anymore, because you need to figure out if the sidebar is open before you start typing anything. Otherwise, you might accidentally overwrite data in your base.

Was that so hard? :slightly_smiling_face: That said, retaining the use of “clearly” still implies that the statement is based on facts, which it clearly isn’t.

But anyway, on to more important matters…

Well, for some reason the shortcut doesn’t work for me, but even if it did, it would still require me to press several keyboard buttons (both to show the view menu and then to select the view) instead of a single mouse click…so where’s the advantage? Particularly tedious if several views have similar characters/words, so you’d potentially either need to type a substantial amount of the view’s name when searching to get the required view, or you have to traverse the list with the arrow keys. In contrast, with the new menu, you can simply move the mouse cursor to the view that I want, and click it. Now THAT’s “really awesome”.

I think the problem really is that you’re using names that are too long; a name should be short using keywords to still make it descriptive enough to allow one to quickly and easily determine which view to choose.

Is that really such a big issue? Particularly since you say that you don’t actually switch between views that often (i.e. you won’t get so “disoriented” so often)?

Well, the nice thing about it is that you can close it, i.e. you have a choice - in contrast, the old menu doesn’t have any choices. Again, since you don’t switch between views so often, I’m not so sure that this is such a big deal either. You could also organise the most important/often viewed fields to be next to each other, such that they all fit on your screen. Moreover, you can also use the “awesome” keyboard shortcuts that you mentioned to close it…

Well, you’ve pretty much just described the situation with the old menu (sans the closing of the sidebar since it is automatically closed), so now you have an idea of how I feel.

I must admit to never having thought of quickly glancing towards the area where the menu pops up before typing anything as something so hard to figure out…and even if you do accidentally overwrite data, you can easily Undo it. I guess it depends on what you’re used to, but I still don’t think that it’s such a big issue, since [with the old menu] your eyes will glance over to the menu location anyway to ensure you’re selecting the correct view; all you need to do is look there a fraction of a second earlier prior to using the keyboard shortcut.

Ultimately, this is the solution (something on which we agree!):

As I said in the previous post, people have different preferences and use Airtable in different ways for different purposes; what works for you might very well not work for me (as is the case here), so giving users a choice is probably the simplest - and best - solution.

edit: Shoutout to the Airtable support team, who responded to my email very quickly…thanks!

I agree! The new sidebar takes too much space in my screen, and every time a switch view I have to hide the panel again. That is extremely annoying.

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Totally agree! Please email support@airtable.com to let them know how you feel about this.

This new sidebar should be OPTIONAL. At least have the option to turn it off. Or better: do it like Microsoft Office programs: be able to PIN it if you want it visible at all times. But the default should be to not have it visible. If I simply want to switch views and then hit ENTER, the sidebar stays visible. Absolutely not acceptable to have to keep removing the side bar all day long. It takes up way too much screen space. Also, it has screwed up all my keyboard macros. This seems not to have been beta tested enough – it is a crude and radical departure in using Airtable. Something needs to be done – fast.

After a couple months of being “safe” from the new view switcher, it just activated on my account. Shortly thereafter, I began composing a feedback/request message. It has immediately made me less efficient while using Airtable. Maybe not drastically so, but even using hotkeys, it adds an extra step. Every time I switch bases, I have to close it. Every time I switch views, I have to close it. Part of my request was for a settings panel to be added to Airtable, so that we can take control of how certain features work, including the new view switcher.

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After playing with it some more, I noticed that its open/closed status is remembered. I didn’t think it was behaving that way last night, but now if it’s closed when I switch bases, it stays closed. If it’s open, it stays open. That alone is a big improvement. Also, the more I use it, I almost don’t mind having it open if I’m doing a lot of view switching. Sooooo…the jury is back in deliberation. :man_shrugging:

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@Justin_Barrett Yes, this is one of the improvements that they recently made to the sidebar, but the remaining problems with it are still hurting my productivity & has made Airtable no longer a sheer delight for me to use anymore.

@Kim_Jorgensen I couldn’t have said it better myself. To me, it feels inconsiderate of Airtable to force such a controversial & radical change onto their users. As I mentioned above, it has tremendously diminished my joy of using Airtable on a daily basis, because now Airtable GETS IN THE WAY instead of making me MORE PRODUCTIVE. In my personal opinion, this new sidebar has really damaged the usability of the product.

If you haven’t done so already, please email Airtable at support@airtable.com and let them know how you feel about this change. From my own personal experience, they’re not super-receptive to user feedback, but who knows. Maybe they’ll listen if enough people email them.

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Oh actually, I just discovered that this STILL doesn’t work the way that we would expect. At least on my end, it doesn’t.

Airtable insists on RE-OPENING the sidebar every single time you RE-ENTER a base from Airtable’s home screen. Even if you closed the sidebar upon leaving the base, when you come back, the sidebar is re-opened again. At least that’s the behavior that is happening for me on my end.

This is truly annoying beyond belief. I am often left scratching my head about the decisions that are made behind closed doors at Airtable. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’m using the Airtable desktop app, and it’s remembering the open/close state no matter how I jump around between bases. In the browser version, though, it does stay open as you mentioned.

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Disappointed that Airtable has decided to stick with this despite all the backlash.

Airtable team - here is a better question - what will it take for you guys to revert back to the old dropdown? Is there a usage metric that is helping you decide? Is the metric giving you the indication that the old method was worse?

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This new UI pattern is a regression. It objectively makes the experience worse on a lot of levels with no real upside.

Here are a few to start:

  1. It uses too much real estate. The canvas for the view is now a fixed height of the entire window versus simply spanning the number of views you have up until a certain point (after which you scroll).

  2. The primary actions for adding views now locked at the bottom. They previously were much quicker to access. Now I have to navigate all the way to the bottom of the screen. That a ton of hoping around.

  3. The interaction of opening and closing the sidebar is just bizarre. There are two UI elements do the same thing— trigger opening and closing the panel by clicking “view” and/or “grid view”. Click “View” make sense—there’s even an icon to give some affordance to what might happen. Clicking the name of the view makes no sense.

There are a ton of issues with this direction. What happened?

Agree - please get rid of the Views sidebar - or allow us to keep it closed. Agree - it’s not necessary and takes up too much space and is annoying to have to close frequently. Thank you!

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