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Autonumber reordering?

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So we use Airtable to house an inventory system, for both existing and new assets. New assets are written into the system as a new record via a form.

Up to this point, we’ve used autonumber to generate a unique easy value for vendors to reference to as a PO. I was under the impression that autonumber values COULD NOT be user changed unless the user was changing the field type to another value and changed it back, etc.

We’ve spent about 6 hours today chasing down problems with the autonumber field seemingly renumbering itself, based on how a filter or sort is applied at the time a record is added into the system, or another user is editing a record, etc.

Does anyone else have any history or ideas on this issue?

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It sounds like someone changed the field to a different type, then changed it back to Autonumber. This rewrites all the Autonumbers in the order of Record Creation Date, but it does not account for deleted records. For example, if I have the following Autonumbered records,

1: A
2: B
3: C
4: D

and I delete record 3, I will then have

1: A
2: B
4: D

But if I then change the Autonumber field to something else and then change it back, my records will show as:

1: A
2: B
3: D

As I’m sure you’re aware, this can have a devastating effect on tracking.

What does the record history say about the autonumber field? Does it list changes in values?

You are correct. Unfortunately, no one will probably be willing to admit that they did that. Unless you have an enterprise account, you also have no way of finding out who is changing field types.

If you have not done so already, make sure that you limit who has “creator” permissions versus “editor” permissions. Editors cannot change field types.

This assumes that you have a true autonumber field, and not an editable number field plus some automations to set the value.

If you do not use the autonumber field directly, you might also want to check the formula fields that use the autonumber.

Thanks for the responses so far! I’m assuming the attached is the “smoking gun”? Since the field isn’t user editable, “user modified field” is what we’re talking about here?


The other weird thing - yesterday trying to duplicate the problem, we created a few other autonumber fields with different sorts, filters, etc. applied and intentionally tried to “break” the autonumber, and it was successful using a sort WHEN new record came in while we were sorting. For example, the way we had the record sorted, our base had 8500 records. A form was submitted while we were doing this, and instead of being autonumber 8501… It popped to the TOP of the grid instead of the bottom (because of the sort) and caused the autonumber field to reorder…

This sounds really weird. Can you post a screenshot of the field configuration screen for the autonumber field?

Is this the configuration?

Yes! This shows that the field configuration was changed, which changed the value of the field.

Can you reliably re-create the autonumber fields getting new numbers, without changing the field type? If so, I recommend making a video and sending it to support.

When you create a new autonumber field, the numbers for existing fields are based on the current sort order of the current view when the autonumber field is created, and any hidden records are numbered after that. Then going forward, new records are given numbers in the order in which they are created.