Format Date to Use in Link Field

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6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

I am having major problems all of the sudden with a link field automation that uses a date.

Let me start by saying if I copy and paste my date from one table into the link field it works fine.

If I try to do it via. Automation I keep getting an error that says this field can not accept that input.

Seems to be a recent problem. Any help? This is breaking a ton of stuff for me.

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If the automation is pulling directly from a date field, that could explain the problem. My gut says that Airtable is complaining about inserting the underlying datetime data into the link field, but when copying and pasting manually there’s an automatic conversion to text that’s happening in the pasting process.

The quickest way that I can think of to solve this is to make a formula field that formats the date as you wish, then tweak the automation to copy that formatted date into the link field, which should work without errors.

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

How do I format it as m/d/yyyy I’ve tried that and it still fails.

I tried to replicate this issue as I understand it (well or not) and got the same failure. Doesn’t a link field expect an array (whether it’s a single or multiple)? Does the copy/paste automatically cast the pasted value(s) to an array format whereas the automation doesn’t?

I don’t know but am curious.

This is so frustrating for multiple reasons.

  1. It was working last week 100%
  2. I have tried Turing it into an array and automating and I get the error.
  3. I have tried turning the array into a string by concatenating it with a blank element.
  4. If this is an issue then Airtable should not allow you to use Date field as the first column or let me designate another item as the primary column without screwing up all the rest of my tables that link to it.

When setting the link options via JavaScript, it does. Specifically, it must be an array of objects pointing to specific record IDs. I haven’t tried to set links via an automation that often, but the few times that I have, I’ve used a record ID, so maybe they’ve begun enforcing that method across the board.

@Jason_F If it was working before and has only recently begun failing (I believe you said this in your original post, but I somehow glossed over that point), I recommend contacting Airtable support directly.

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Thanks Justin.

I can’t use the record ID because it doesn’t know what that is yet.

The date or value is what will link the record as that’s the known fact.

I would contact Airtable support as well. However, would it be possible to add another action in your automation that creates the record in the second table, assigns the date from the current table to the primary field, then uses the record id for that newly created record in a following update record action that assigns the created record id to the link field?

Not sure as I’ve never tried. Let us know how it works out.

It will not even accept the record ID at this point. I have no updated it so it brings in the date once but will not accept it back in another field.

That’s very odd. Could you share a screenshot of how you’re setting this up to pass the record ID?

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

The basic question at the root of all of this is if Date is the only thing I have as a linking unique identifier how do I use that?

Dates should work, as I’m sure that you’re not the only user with a date in the primary field of a table used in a linking relationship. Whether or not that date works comes down to the specifics of your setup, and so far we’ve had your descriptions of parts of the setup, but not a look at the setup itself. The more details that you can share—specifically screenshots—the sooner we can hone in on the core of the issue.

I can’t share details as I have done way too many customizations at this point.

I was able to make it work by going back into my base and changing the first column from a date to single line text and then formatting the 2nd column to just make it a date for other purposes.

A huge pain as I now have to go through every view and formula to update but it did work.

Okay, I just tested this, and it seems like this is a major bug on Airtable’s end. This needs to be reported to ASAP.

Automations will work properly if you try to paste the date into a normal date field, a normal text field, a select field, etc.

But if you try to paste a date into a linked record field, it will only work if you are pasting in a value that ALREADY PRE-EXISTS IN THE OTHER TABLE. If you try to paste in a new value that doesn’t already pre-exist in the other table, the automation will fail.

It seems like Airtable forgot to enable their very own “typecast” feature, which allows you to paste BRAND NEW VALUES into linked record fields. (Although “typecast” also applies to single-select fields and multiple-select fields as well, and those seem to work just fine.)

I would report this as a bug to Airtable ASAP… it is definitely a bug.

In the meantime, you can do a workaround like what @Jason_F outlined above, or you can always use Integromat to take care of this, and be sure to enable their “smart links” option, which enables Airtable’s “typecast” feature. Integromat is a low-code, very professional, automation & integration platform.

I’m also tagging @Adam_Minich and @Rose_K on this thread, so hopefully they can have their engineers fix this bug ASAP.

Thanks Scott. Mine wasn’t working even with already existing records, but either way great catch!

I was able to get around this by using a Create record action to create a new record with the desired date, and then link to it with an Update record action, but obviously for cases where the link needs to be made to an existing record, that’s not going to work.

Another option would be to use a script action to do the linking, which will work because it uses the record ID and not the field contents.

Nice workarounds, @Justin_Barrett! Thanks!

Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee


Did you already submit a support ticket? If not, then I’ll file an escalation with our engineers to have them take a look at this.

Thanks for flagging @ScottWorld

I did already submit something to them.

Okay, I will check to see where that is at and step in if necessary. Cheers~~