Uploaded files now being renamed

I’m awaiting an answer to a support request email that I sent this morning (GMT) but I don’t know how frequently these get answered and also the support forum is closed so here goes.

Something appears to have been broken with file uploads. If I upload this PDF:

concepto(abono) | cantidad(62.23).pdf

it is now renamed to

concepto(abono) - cantidad(62_23).pdf

which screws this part of my workflow. I have tried it on Safari and Chrome (MacOS Mojave).

I can thereafter rename the file attachments, so it doesn’t seem these are now deemed illegal characters.

That’s strange that it renames the file during upload, but lets you change it back afterwards. I can see why it would change the period to an underscore (likely to avoid possible issue with filename parsers that are only expecting there to be a single period, before the file extension), but I don’t get the change from the vertical bar to a hyphen.

I’d wait for a response from support. They’re pretty prompt (within reason) when I have issues come up.

Thanks for your answer! To be clear this used to work until some time in the last few days.

Hopefully I will get an answer soon by email.

Vertical bar (i.e., pipe character) is a reserved character in some JSON parsers and the Java language. In JSON objects pipes are perfectly okay as a delimiter in a string despite many developers who suggest it’s wrong. But if the app has made some assumptions about pipes in JSON, the app will likely be aware of this and sanitize the content.

Since filenames are content and can be searched in Airtable, this is likely why they have asserted this transformation. But me thinks it’s something more ominous. Airtable is likely preparing to improve their search features by eliminating pipes. Here’s why…

Pipe characters are regex meta characters. If they wanted to support them in search (using regex) they would need to escape them in fields and filenames. This would be a mess as they would all have a leading backslash making the content totally unreadable to humans.

Instead, they are sanitizing the file name to ensure that it can be searched without creating regex issues - that’s my hunch.

I suspect they are removing all dot characters for the same reason - the dot (.) is a regex meta character as well.

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Mark - they were never deemed legal. :wink: For all time and eternity (like 90+ dog years) they have been unwise characters to use in file names. Airtable never should have allowed them.

Why do they change them and still allow you to use them through renaming? One hypothesis…

It’s possible not all of the changes they need to perform to Airtable are completely deployed, thus making it possible to rename them back. But… I would follow the spirit of their renaming automation because there is a reason and best you don’t learn their ultimate impact accidentally.

To be clear, I would argue that these characters have always been reserved characters and likely to create issues. Best to stick with the basic characters including dash, numbers, and letters. Here’s a pretty good guide on this topic.

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Thanks Bill. If this is the explanation then I can easily use a formula to output the filename as I require, but given the ease with which Airtable could escape illegal characters on the back end I don’t see it. Let’s see what they say (if they answer my email).

Sure, that’s entirely possible. Everything I’ve suggested is speculation on my part. But if their search feature is client-side (indications thus far it is) it makes it a little more complex.

My gut tells me if the behavior has changed, it’s not likely a bug or an unintentional misstep. If that’s true, I can only assume they don’t want those characters in filenames and the ability to override this intent is either something they missed or a future constraint that hasn’t been deployed.

I’ll let you know, but they still haven’t answered me. Pro subscription notwithstanding.

@Bill.French @Justin_Barrett

Support replied to my email and it was indeed as you guys said. Thanks for your help!

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Wow! Then I’m one-for-nine this week. :wink: The week is still young though.

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