We need dependency checker for fields

We need something where we can check dependencies of a field. I have a large database (a hairball of sort) and the DatabaseSchema app is unhelpful because in the grey hairball of matter it doesn’t show which fields depend on a particular field.

I needed to delete a field I think I no longer need but there is one dependency which I can’t find in the DatabaseSchema app (not clear) and I don’t want to just delete the field to see what happens and do a search and rescue whole afternoon looking for that yellow exclamation sign indicating a broken link.

The dependency checker would tell me which fields depend on the particular field and also show the names of the fields.

Yes, this is a very important missing feature. It’s also a similar problem when you delete a field or a view that an automation is dependent on. No warnings from Airtable.

@Adam_Minich, this was the situation that my client went through that you helped them with — they had accidentally deleted a field or a view which an automation was dependent on, and then their entire Airtable base stopped working properly.

Hello @itoldusoandso,

Adam from Airtable here.

Currently, the base schema app is able to show these dependencies:

I’m starting an internal discussion about the potential of better tracking when it comes to automations. I feel like I saw something about this in the past, so I’ll follow up if I have more to share.

The best practice tip for now, and I realize this may be a bit difficult at this point if you already have a base built out, is to add field descriptions on the various ways fields, Automations, etc. may be related. You can also add a description to your individual automations.

Thanks for surfacing this blocker and, again, I’ll follow up later if I’m able to share more details.

The Field List app with a premium license can show dependencies for computed fields. This is similar to the information in the Base Schema app, but presented in a different way. You can see more info on my website.

Note that the app only shows dependencies that are exposed to the custom app sdk. It will not show dependencies in 3rd party integrations; items used in scripts, automations, or apps; or fields used in conditions for conditional lookups/rollups/count fields.

Another option you could consider is to duplicate the base, then delete the field in the duplicate, and see what breaks.

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@kuovonne that’s pretty good, didn’t know you built those addons you have on your page. Yes, so the Field List is definitively helpful useful even in the free version to use for training for instance. I am going to put the link here from another discussion we had, hopefully it results in some sales for you which I think and you deserve you deserve for your contributions as well as the help you provide here. Big thanks :+1:

@Adam_Minich, thanks for stopping by. So glad to see the great and amazing Airtable team to mingle with us. Yes, I am aware of the Base Scheme with those scheckboxes turned on and I use it as soft of last resort. In fact without the check-boxes, there would limited use of Base Scheme because it doesn’t show the fields in the same order as I have them in my table view (in fact in any of my views). Base Scheme shows the fields in the order they were created, I believe. One of my tables has a couple of hundred fields, going through that Base Scheme with what I call “random” order of fields is thought. I would call Base Scheme is a hammer when all I need to do is prevent the nail from falling out in the first place, so I don’t need to use the hammer :slight_smile:

I have a huge number of fields in my table so Base Scheme is a bit slow even on a machine with 16gb ram but I do like the visual part to if, it works great on a touch screen laptop. I wish it was available on a tablet too, that would be nice to browse the Base Scheme on tablet.

Having that dependency checker to avoid accidents and to easily track accidents when they happen is what is likely the missing feature in Airtable right now and we hope something will be there in the future.

To illustrate the hairball I am dealing with. Some hairlines are so thick, I have to zoom in and out to navigate.


kuovonne, is it possible to have Field List produce the list of fields in the actual order I have them in my view? That makes it far easier for me to look at the list and the database side by side in my case, that is due to the high number of fields I have. The list it creates is by date the fields were created (which is one of the issues with Base Schema app).

Secondly, equally important, is it possible to add field names for the Compute Using and Used to Computer fields, they show the ID number. It’s going to take more time. I guess it’s not a quick fix?

Update:

Actually I was able to get the names to show up by creating a copy of the table and then doing linking/lookup for the field names. - scratch that - Actually I didn’t know you can link and do lookup within the same table.

Now the only issue is the sorting. Could you restrict the output of the list to the view?

fieldlist

It is not realistic to create the list of fields in grid view order, because a table can have many views with fields in different orders. Plus, record order is not fixed in Airtable, so you can re-arrange the field records as you like after the table of fields is created.

My website has instructions for some post-processing to make the table of fields easier to work with. You convert the “computed using” and “used to compute” fields to same-table linked records. Then you duplicate the field ID field to a different field. Finally you convert the primary field to a formula field that shows the field name. This post-processing is necessary because the apps SDK does not allow creating linked record fields or formula fields.

I also recommend some additional post-processing when working with the list of tables. I like to build a filtered view that shows only computed relationships and view these relationships in the Org Chart app. Depending on the complexity of the computed relationships, sometimes I filter for a specific table of computed fields, or for a specific chain of relationships. (One of the problems with the base scheme app is that is always shows all fields, and often most of those fields are clutter when tracking down a specific issue.)

Including view information is on my roadmap for this app, but I do not have a timeline for that feature.

OK, helpful, all done. You made me read a manual regarding Airtable. That’s the first time I had to read something. One of good things about Airtable is you don’t need any user manuals.

I can see now the benefit of this together with Org Chart and it helps working with larger number of fields.

Why they are even two separate apps, Org Chart and Base Scheme should be folded into one app.

Lol. Thank you for reading. You can find a surprising amount of information from reading documentation! The tricky part is finding the specific information you want, as people rarely have the time or patience to read through everything to find the nuggets of information that are relevant their situations.