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Bulk update (append) linked records without deleting existing linked records

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I have Two tables. People and Groups. The groups table is used for an assortment of things in our organization. So most everyone is a part of 3-20 groups.

My problem comes when I need to add more than 30 or so people to a single group. Bulk adding overwrites all of the varied groups that a person is in and i can’t find an angle to add more than one person at a time to the group without overwriting all of that person’s existing groups.

I’m attempting to create an automation that I can use a view that automatically appends a person to a group but I’m thinking there has to be a better way.

Any insights?
Screen Shot 2022-08-31 at 10.46.19 AM
Screen Shot 2022-08-31 at 10.46.15 AM

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Hi @Austin_Adams ,

Im assuming this is a onetime thing that you wanna do every now and then?

You can have a helper field which is a linked to another record field, and another field that is a formula concatenating the existing groups with the new group, then copy paste the formula to the original field and delete the helper field (or at least delete the data)

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Hi @Austin_Adams ,

Im assuming this is a onetime thing that you wanna do every now and then?

You can have a helper field which is a linked to another record field, and another field that is a formula concatenating the existing groups with the new group, then copy paste the formula to the original field and delete the helper field (or at least delete the data)

In an automation action that updates a linked record field, you can append entries to the field by inserting the existing field into itself (which brings in all the existing values), adding a comma, and then inserting the new value afterwards.

Great idea! I’ll try that tomorrow to see how it fits my workflow.

At some point Airtable has to make this easier right?

Genius move. Are there any random consequences that come from doing this? Like could it affect any other automations that might be looking at a view to trigger emails etc??

I guess what I’m asking is…Does Airtable see this as taking them out of the group/record and then suddenly putting them back in?

Love your solution. How do we get Airtable to simply add an “append” function to make this easier.

Hmmmm… that’s a great question! I don’t know the answer to that one! We should test that out to determine the answer to that question! I wonder if anybody else knows off the top of their head, like @kuovonne?

That would be much easier! You may want to email support@airtable.com to ask them to add this as a feature request.

No. The people are not temporary taken out of any groups with this method. The original list of groups is simply replaced with the new list of groups.

There are some aspects where you need to be careful. You should make sure that your group names are 100% unique and do not contain any commas, quotes, or new line characters. (Other special characters might also cause problems.) I tend to prefer using record IDs in these cases to avoid these problems, but if you are manually typing in a record name you may have no choice.

You may also need to use conditional actions to account for the situation where the group being added is the first group and there were no previous groups. In this case there should be no comma.

Finally, you may also run into a problem if you try to add someone to a group who is already in the group. In this case the group name would appear twice. However a linked record field can only link to a given record once. If the record appears twice in the list, this will cause an error. (At least it caused an error the last time I tested it.)

I think the workaround to this (instead of using a conditional action) is to put the new values first, then add the comma, then insert the field itself. This should work all the time, even if the field was previously empty.

Super helpful everyone, thank you!! I’m running some tests in our test base now and will see which approach works best.

Email sent to Airtable support for good measure in the append function.