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Re: Unable to open linked records in a synced database

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Tristan_Scifo
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

I've built a powerful "knowledge database" from which I share multiple tables which hold various interlinked records (from one table to another). These tabels are shared across to multiple other bases I run for my businesses, benefiting from a single source of live-linked data.

My problem is that the synced tables flatten out any linked records that exist, even if I've also synced the second table which holds the other side of the linked record.

We want our users to be able to open and work with these linked records coming from synced tables.

Is there any sign of this being improved upon by airtable?

Is there any workaround for this?

1 Solution

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ScottWorld
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Yeah, unfortunately, Airtable doesn’t handle synced tables very well. There are dozens of limitations and problems with syncing, including the fact that internal record ID’s change in the destination sync table.

If possible, avoiding syncing by consolidating everything into a single base is often the easiest & quickest & best solution. In those cases, you could use interfaces or external portal tools (like Noloco) to limit the records which people can see.

However, if syncing is required, there is a hidden, secret, undocumented, little-known trick for getting at least SOME of your linked records back.

In your destination tables, you can actually CONVERT the field types. So your previous linked record field (which has now become a text field) can be converted into a linked record field again, and Airtable will attempt to re-link the records.

However, this is not bulletproof. There are at least 2 major issues with this, and probably more:

1) It requires that the other table (i.e. the one you’re linking to) must have completely unique PRIMARY FIELD VALUES for every record (and that those records have already been synced so they are available for linking to).

2) The backlinks (i.e. linked record field in the other table pointing back to the first table) will become a brand new linked record field instead of using the previous linked record field.

So it’s not an ideal situation, but it could work for many different situations!

There are also more complicated ways of trying to re-link your records too, which involves syncing the former internal record ID’s and then creating automations to re-link records based on their former record ID’s, but that’s much more cumbersome. (This method ALSO requires creating brand new fields, similar to how the trick above will create brand new fields as well). And because there are delays in syncing, you may also need to create this automation with Make instead of Airtable’s automations.

UPDATE: I give a step-by-step demonstration of the above solution in this Airtable podcast episode:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=th3YHdRiHl4&list=PLqssva4liHRwHhQIpTXekG8WObEoyC2F1

p.s. All of this can become confusing or frustrating. If you need to hire an expert Airtable consultant to help you with any of this, feel free to reach out to me through my website: Airtable Consulting — ScottWorld

See Solution in Thread

3 Replies 3
ScottWorld
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Yeah, unfortunately, Airtable doesn’t handle synced tables very well. There are dozens of limitations and problems with syncing, including the fact that internal record ID’s change in the destination sync table.

If possible, avoiding syncing by consolidating everything into a single base is often the easiest & quickest & best solution. In those cases, you could use interfaces or external portal tools (like Noloco) to limit the records which people can see.

However, if syncing is required, there is a hidden, secret, undocumented, little-known trick for getting at least SOME of your linked records back.

In your destination tables, you can actually CONVERT the field types. So your previous linked record field (which has now become a text field) can be converted into a linked record field again, and Airtable will attempt to re-link the records.

However, this is not bulletproof. There are at least 2 major issues with this, and probably more:

1) It requires that the other table (i.e. the one you’re linking to) must have completely unique PRIMARY FIELD VALUES for every record (and that those records have already been synced so they are available for linking to).

2) The backlinks (i.e. linked record field in the other table pointing back to the first table) will become a brand new linked record field instead of using the previous linked record field.

So it’s not an ideal situation, but it could work for many different situations!

There are also more complicated ways of trying to re-link your records too, which involves syncing the former internal record ID’s and then creating automations to re-link records based on their former record ID’s, but that’s much more cumbersome. (This method ALSO requires creating brand new fields, similar to how the trick above will create brand new fields as well). And because there are delays in syncing, you may also need to create this automation with Make instead of Airtable’s automations.

UPDATE: I give a step-by-step demonstration of the above solution in this Airtable podcast episode:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=th3YHdRiHl4&list=PLqssva4liHRwHhQIpTXekG8WObEoyC2F1

p.s. All of this can become confusing or frustrating. If you need to hire an expert Airtable consultant to help you with any of this, feel free to reach out to me through my website: Airtable Consulting — ScottWorld

Tristan_Scifo
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Great solution. That's a really helpful tip about changing column types for synced tables. I appreciate your detailed response!

You're welcome! Glad I could help! 🙂