Rebuild or Restructure Base.... Or wait?

Topic Labels: Sync
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8 - Airtable Astronomer
8 - Airtable Astronomer

I know this is probably a difficult question and is case by case, but with the addition of sync I am debating on what to do.

I am trying to decide if I should rebuild my base into separate bases from scratch or try to clean up/restructure my current base? Or maybe even just wait a bit to see how the new sync evolves?
My current base has many tables that link together (Jobs, Contacts “employee & customer”, Customers, Cities with various tax rates, Holidays, etc.). I have probably 20 different tables in the base.

When I built my current base, I was learning a lot as I was building it and now feel I can build a more efficient base if I were to start from scratch. My current base has one table (jobs) with close to 25k records and over 300 fields, which won’t open on iOS app and causes it to crash (spoke with Airtable and nothing can really be done to make work as is due to size). This jobs table will certainly evolve over the 50,000 limit and I will have to start splitting the table up by year & eventually quarter. This is a real bummer as It would be so convenient having all my job in one base for reporting, searching, duplicating old jobs, etc. This I where I feel I will be better off with sync and having separate bases instead of separate tables.
Sometime I feel Airtable can be “too good” :slightly_smiling_face: as I come up with an idea and simply create a solution, but then I end up with 300+ fields in a table :slightly_smiling_face:

Just want to get some options from people that are dealing or have dealt with these issues :slightly_smiling_face:


3 Replies 3

Hi @RnJ,

That’s a question that I’m hearing from a lot of people and as you guessed, it’s not a simple straight up answer.

Yes, I would definitely start planning which could include a good house cleaning of your current base. Some careful planning would go a long way as well. Other than testing and planning, I (personally) wouldn’t recommend letting go of your current system just yet. Syncing is too new to rely on it just yet, especially at the volume of data that you’re using.

Having said that though, it definitely sounds like this new feature will be advantageous to you whenever you do decide to revamp.

Keep us informed as you move along.

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

This is where I’m standing at. I don’t have nearly as much data as you do, but the tables I have are so intertwined I don’t think there’s a simple way to split in multiple bases (something I need) without having to enter a lot of data again. I suppose links between tables will be lost and an infinite amount of manual work would be needed, prone to many errors.
I just wanted a button to “create a copy of this table to another base and sync to this one with mapped fields”. That would be awesome!

I recently went through this process of splitting 3 tables out of a base with about 35 tables in it.

Those 3 tables were all inter-linked with eachother, and with 1 other table which was remaining in the original base. It was not a ton of data, so probably nothing on the scale you guys ( @RnJ, @Fernando_Martinewski ) are looking at.

However, I hope to encourage you that the process was not as painful as I expected it to be.

Here’s kind of how I did it, so far as I can remember:

  • Create new base
  • Export my 3 tables from the original base that were being transferred as CSV’s
  • Don’t delete the 3 tables in the original base yet!!
  • Create 3 new tables in new base by importing the CSV’s
  • IIRC, all the fields import as Single Line Text fields, so next step is to change field types; There is no need to alter any data as it was imported
  • Open up the two bases side by side - view the first transferred table in each base, and change field types, then do the second, etc…
  • Change the following (manual entry) field types back to their appropriate field types first, using the original base as reference:
    • Single Select
    • Multiple Select
    • Number
    • Date
    • Checkbox
    • Collaborator
    • Phone number
    • Currency
    • Percent
    • Duration
    • Rating
    • Email
    • URL
    • Autonumber
    • Barcode
  • Next, change each Formula field back to a Formula field and manually copy and paste the formula from the original base to the new base
  • Next, change Attachment fields back to Attachment fields and manually copy and paste the entire column of attachment records from the original base into the new base (select the whole column and copy, then select the top record in the new base and paste - this will overrite the URL references to the attachments with actual attachments)
  • Create any synced tables to sync from the original base into the new base
  • Rename the tables synced into the new base to match the name that the linked records originally looked for
  • One by one, change Linked record fields back into Linked record fields (I think I had to delete a few superfluous back-link fields that were created, but it wasn’t a huge deal)
  • Change Lookup and Rollup fields back into their appropriate types - copy and paste Rollup formulas as needed from the original base
  • Change any other remaining field types back to their original field types (Created time, Buttons, etc)

When I did things in this order, I did not have to change any data – as I change the field types, the data types restored themselves to how they looked in my original base, including linked records, etc. I was expecting to have to do a ton of clean up, but in reality, it went pretty smoothly. I was really impressed.

I would definitely suggest carefully inspecting everything before deleting your original tables, though. Make absolutely certain you’ve gotten your links established as needed.