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Re: Cross Reference Linked Records in *Same Table*

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Tyler_Thom
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

I’ve become pretty proficient in Airtable over the last year and have used it for countless purposes. However, this one is stumping me a bit.

Within the same table, I want to link record A to record B, and have that link show up in two separate columns indicating the relationship. Example…

I’m creating a base to track cattle for a farming business. One table will have “inventory” to track all of the cattle; previously and currently held. Some cattle will produce offspring and I would like to track this in the same table by using linked records. I would like one column to indicate the parents and a separate column to indicate children/offspring. Here is a basic example:
image

Obviously, the table would track much more information than this, but the link is where I’m having trouble. By adding “parent” to one column, I want the linked record to show a cross-link under the offspring to show the relationship.

I’ve been able to do this by creating a 2nd table that links “family ties” and shows the relationship that way, but I’d prefer to use just one table.

I also tried using automation, which works great if there is just one link. The second I add a second child or a 2nd parent, Airtable can’t determine which record(s) to update.

any suggestions?

6 Replies 6
ScottWorld
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Welcome to the community, @Tyler_Thom!

Unfortunately, this is one of the big flaws in Airtable, and I can't figure out why Airtable made the decision to not automatically cross-link records within the same table.

Please be sure to send an email to support@airtable.com to let them know how important this feature would be to you.

In the meantime, there are only 2 ways to handle this in Airtable:

(1) Write a custom JavaScript to handle this for you. Two scripts that do this are available here and here.

or

(2) For a no-code way of doing this that doesn’t require writing any programming code at all, you can use Make’s advanced Airtable automations, which is a no-code automation tool for Airtable.

There is a small learning curve with Make, which is why I’ve assembled a bunch of Make training resources in this thread.

For example, to instantly trigger a Make automation from Airtable, check out this thread on instantly triggering a Make automation from Airtable using a webhook.

You will also need to know how to work with arrays, which I demonstrate on this Airtable podcast episode.

p.s. If you have a budget for your project and you’d like to hire an expert Airtable consultant to help you with any of this, please feel free to contact me through my website: Airtable consulting — ScottWorld 

I recently came across this issue. It's surprising and frustrating that Airtable does not automatically cross-link records within the same table. I just emailed support to highlight the importance of this. It's a strange omission for an otherwise amazing tool. 

jonomatusky
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Another way around this is to create a second table to "hold" the relationships between the entities in your first table. In your example, you create a "Relationships" table where one column is "Parent" and one column is "Child". Each of those columns are linked to records in your Cows table (one record only - not multiple). This will create back linking columns in your Cows table (eg "Parent Relationships" and "Child Relationships"). This will by default show the name column in the Relationships table, so you have to turn your "Parents" and "Children" columns into Rollups based on these new columns. Then you can set Red Cow as the parent and Lavender Cow as the child in one record in your relationships column, and Red Cow will now show up in Lavender Cow's "Parents column" and vice versa.

Devorah_Henders
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

Yes, Airtable, please fix this.  It creates so many awkward situations.  Airtable would be so much more useful if Linked Records in the same table were cross-referenced like this.  This is already the case for linked records in separate tables, and should apply the same way for records in the same table.  

ScottWorld
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Yeah, it’s pretty strange.

I came from 30 years of FileMaker development before becoming an expert Airtable consultant, and FileMaker easily handles same table cross-referenced links.

alexagora
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

This would be incredibly useful; not sure if staff watch old threads like this though. I wonder if it's in the product ideas section? I am not finding it at a quick search.