Long Primary fields - issues and how to avoid corruption

Topic Labels: Base design
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6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Hi Folks - Somewhat new to Airtable but have done deep dive and feel pretty good about how things work.

I am developing a grant application processing Base that is pretty complicated. One of the necessary evils is long primary fields. Like 25-50 chars. We maybe be able to trim them in the future, but becuse the primary field is so important in Airtable (ie, card headers, text that displays for linked field values, etc etc), it has to be real and not a numerical code etc. My main primary field is like this: 2020-059 - ABC - Smith Tract - Big River State Park.

It has been creating all types of issues on import, commas were an issue until I killed them (easy fix) and then creation of “quotation marks” around primary link fields in other tables as I turn primary key links on and off in working on getting the base made.

ANYWAY - i had a corruption issue occur where additional spaces got inserted in the primary field, evidently where the key got wrapped in a given view, and then it stuck. see below if you are curious about that or have ideas on how to avoid.

Advice on characters to avoid? Commas obviously. Dashes vs " | " marks? Underscore would be way less readable but I may have to try it… I need to make sure this is somewhat bombproof when I role out to 9 staff and we all put our annual work cycle on top of it without alternative methodology in place…

Should I auto-populate the primary field with the three components? How would this work with importing/linking additional tables (ie, a many to one budget line table that is initially a large import?)



PS - Airtable has no bug or error report category in contacting help. I submitted it under Other Questions or something. Am I missing something or do they really not have an official way to report an issue? I guess most reports are operator error… but hmmmm.

Hello - I’ve had an issue where a longish primary field has been corrupted at a point where something has apparently inserted a carriage return that comes out as three blank spaces in the data. This is where the primary field got wrapped in a certain view? See screenshots. First one is the data with carriage return (that I did not insert, I don’t even know how haha) showing that the data wont return to one line even when there is room. second screen shot showing the three spaces that I didn’t put there… Causing a major issue with data importing and auto field linking. some of the issue spots I am seeing are only one extra space, I am now seeing… I’ll try to fix with a cut and past out to excel or a find and replace script run. But I have to use long primary fields, so any help to avoid is appreciated. Thanks, Damon Hearne

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2 Replies 2

A lot will depend on how you are importing the data and how much legacy data/structure you are forced to keep.

[quote=“DamonH, post:1, topic:36794”]
Should I auto-populate the primary field with the three components?

If your primary field is composed three components that have useful individual meanings, this is the way to go. Save each component in its own field, then use a formula field for your primary field to combine them.

It depends on the data being imported and how the linked records are setup. If importing data into one table needs to be able to create new records in a second table, you may not be able to use a formula field as the primary key in the second table.

Thanks! This all makes sense, and not a problem to only use formula in primary table primary field. The formula is working so far, but my data broke again re carriage returns in the longer component field. Brought it back over to Excel and fixed using CLEAN, not sure if this will fix it for good this time or not Perhaps there were some sort of unprintable characters in the data import that didnt reveal themselves until Airtable did something else… Airtable support has a ticket and we’ll see what they say…