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Trying to understand the principles here on Lookup /Linking

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RonniEloff_VKDe
7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Okay - I've been going along and creating stuff for a while with Airtable.  I was a master at Excel and could link cell information into other sheets and such from other records.

I've gotten where I am using Lookup within in a base between tables, but I am puzzled by a result that makes it very hard to wrap my brain around it still after three years - I still don't get this.  (And yes I have watched the videos, read the articles, searched the community, only to become even more confused.

Base: People

Table A:  Basic 
Fields include

Primary field - Function (Last Name, First name)
Last Name (Single)
First Name (Single)
Email Address (Email)

basic.jpg

 

Table B: Details
Primary Field - (Still not sure what to do here)
Field: FullName - Linked  to Basics / 

details - select person.jpg

Question 1: Why is the Lookup Field here?  What real purpose does it serve/used for? I end up hiding the field anyway and the end of the field rows.

Notice btw I have Allow linking to multiple records turned off here.  

Go back to Basic table

From Basic-linked Details.jpg

 

Why is it Allow linking to multiple records turned on - in the Basic Table?  If I turn it off here is it going to be an issue in the Details Table?

And this is where I get real confused.  The Details Primary field right now is empty -  I need to make it something that makes sense here... otherwise - What is the purpose of this Linked field in the Basic table for?  (Again I end up hiding the field because I don't get it)

 

2 Replies 2
stenkate
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Hi @RonniEloff_VKDe hopefully this helps a bit:

Please also take a look at the support documentation:
https://support.airtable.com/docs/linking-records-in-airtable 
https://support.airtable.com/docs/lookup-field-overview

A link field creates a connection (link) between records in different tables A and B. If a link is created, you can lookup information from table A in via a lookup field in table B, since there's a link between that record in table B with a record in table A. 

 

>> Question 1: Why is the Lookup Field here? What real purpose does it serve/used for? I end up hiding the field anyway and the end of the field rows.

An additional lookup field is never required (such as your example 'Full Name (from Full Name)'. When creating  a link field Airtable automatically proposes to create a lookup field, but that's not required and you can also skip it.

 

>> Why is it Allow linking to multiple records turned on - in the Basic Table? If I turn it off here is it going to be an issue in the Details Table?


Good question regarding the configuration of 'linking to multiple records' in both link fields in table A and table B, and what the potential effects would be if they differ. I don't know the answer to that.

 

>> And this is where I get real confused. The Details Primary field right now is empty - I need to make it something that makes sense here... otherwise - What is the purpose of this Linked field in the Basic table for? (Again I end up hiding the field because I don't get it)

I think it would help if you share the data model you want to achieve here? Also see https://support.airtable.com/docs/linking-records-in-airtable#step-1define-your-relationships

In other words: what's the purpose for splitting up the basic and details of the persons? What I often encounter is that there's table 'People' with all information of those persons and that they are linked to another table's records, for example 'Companies' or 'Invoices' or whatsoever. 

 


@stenkate wrote:

>Please also take a look at the support documentation:

I think I may have not been clear enough in my post  - I've been pondering this for over 3 years. I have really done a deep dive into anything I could find, including purchasing an Udemy Course package to help me understand this.  The articles you referenced were the first things I read, have bookmarked, and have re-read at least 3 dozen times, and I have open when I work in Link/Lookup/Sync functionality because - it does not follow standard linking lookup rules.

>> Question 1: Why is the Lookup Field here? What real purpose does it serve/used for? I end up hiding the field anyway and the end of the field rows.

>An additional lookup field is never required (such as your example 'Full Name (from Full Name)'. When creating  a link field Airtable automatically proposes to create a lookup field, but that's not required and you can also skip it.

Actually this is where I spent my entire weekend given after reading your reply because  something ends up going wrong in the Interface Designer of Airtable when you delete the auto-created lookup field when doing a Linked to another record and using that link in the interface.

I ended up use casing out the entire space - documenting every potential possibility combo of what could happen here.  I am going to finish it up and potentially have one of my good friends who has a fantastic voice do the voice over on a recording I made of it.  (I also have to edit it and insert some diagrams)

> I think it would help if you share the data model you want to achieve here? Also see https://support.airtable.com/docs/linking-records-in-airtable#step-1define-your-relationships

I appreciate the thought - But the data model is confidential - hence why I created a set of use case graphics to demonstrate the basic issue.

I've been programming databases, creating complex workbooks in Excel for over 30 years, I am very aware of defining my relationships 😍.  

I moved to Airtable because of the flexibility and ease of usage for non-db/excel users to create forms, and populate tracking information that is more secure than GoogleForms 🙂