Warning when possibly loosing data in a form

I have repeatedly accidentally lost data as I entered it in a form. Here is what happens. I am filling out a form. I am about half way through. I realize I don’t know the value I should enter for a particular field. In my browser, I navigate out of the form to go find out this information. I come back to the form an the form is now empty. When I navigate away, I would like a warning “Do you want to save your data?”.

I agree, this is aggravating for users and a surprise. Good software never surprises its users.

However…

This suggestion needs some clarity. At the outset, let’s say there is such a warning and you submit the incomplete form? What then? What is the remedy for users who prematurely submit incomplete data into your table?

I suspect you’ll say - Make it easy to edit the submitted data. And this would not be an unreasonable expectation.

However…

This expectation requires other features, not the least of which despite more than 130 upvotes and responses to a request for the ability of forms to edit data in Airtable which occurred over more than 3 years, no such ability exists today as near as I can tell. And there’s no excuse for this - the onBeforeUnload() event handler in HTML5 and supported in all modern browsers makes this simple to implement. In my view, this should have been implemented in 2017 because it’s low-hanging fruit with tremendous upside for improved safety for forms users.

I think the best we can expect (lacking an edit/resume capability) is a warning that you’re about to navigate away from the unsaved form data. Further, if you need to find other data, navigate away using a different tab (but I suspect you already know this and the incidents are purely accidental).

To be clear, this is usual and customary behavior for everything on the web. Leaving any page unsaved or unsubmitted is tantamount to closing your browser or a tab. Indeed, it should not be so easy to do this, but even a well-implemented warning cannot prevent all of the loss scenarios.

You make good points. I have made a similar suggestion with another web-based app. It was implemented and was a life saver. In my use case, the user could later edit their row in a grid view of the table. It is not perfect, but at least the existing data entry would be preserved. I understand that is not the case for everyone’s use case, so yes, I too would like to see the feature to edit data previously submitted in a form.