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Multiplying by percent column yields result that is 100 times too big [SOLVED]

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5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast
Status: Launched

Multiplying by a percent column acts as if the percent were in fact an integer. So 100 * 50% yields 5000 in a formula column rather than the correct result of 50.

10 - Mercury
10 - Mercury

Hi all! Today, we’re releasing a fix to percent field behavior, something that many of you have requested:

  • From now on, the values in all newly created percent fields will be treated as fractions of 100.
  • All percent fields created prior to today have been converted into number fields with a toggle that says “Show percent sign.”

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 5.01.37 PM (1).png

Context on this update

Due to decisions made very early on Airtable’s product development, it used to be that values in the percent field were not treated as fractions of 100, but rather as integer values with a percent sign. That means that if you had a percent field containing the value 50%, and you used this value in a formula, you would get an output that would be correct if you treated the value as an integer without the percent sign, but would be incorrect if you treated the value as a fraction of 100—for example, if you had a formula 1*{Percent} , it would return 50 (as if you were making the calculation 1*50) rather than .5 (as if you were making the calculation 1*(50/100)).

For many of you, this was not how you expected the percent field type would work. Any confusion or frustration you might have experienced as a result of this decision was completely justifiable—we’ve known for a long time that this was something that we needed to address.

However, Airtable is a complex horizontal product with many different features that can intersect with one another in myriad potential ways. Our product team needed to carefully consider all potential solutions and how they might affect our customers’ existing workflows. Here were just a few of our product team’s considerations:

  • Formulas : many of our customers had implemented formulas with the existing behavior of the percent field in mind (e.g. by adding a /100 into a formula). Changing the behavior of the percent field could affect the values output by those formula fields.
  • Filters : if customers had filters defined using criteria related to percent fields (or formula fields referencing percent fields), changing the behavior of the percent field could change which records are being filtered!
  • View share links : related to filters—if customers have view share links that rely on filters, and which records are being filtered changes, changing the behavior of the percent field could potentially expose customer information that was previously hidden (!!!).
  • API : changing the behavior of the percent field could also affect many of our users’ API integrations in ways that we cannot control.

With all of these considerations (and more) in mind, our product team developed a solution that will better align our product with customer expectations going forward, without disrupting any customers’ existing workflows. While newly created percent fields will behave as ratios, the mathematical values in all legacy percent fields (now number fields) will continue to behave as integers. With the solution we’ve implemented, you don’t have to take any action, and all of your API integrations, view share links, formulas, and so on, will continue to work as they did before.

If you are feeling so inclined, you can convert your legacy percent fields (which should now be number fields with a toggled-on “Show percent sign” option) into the new percent fields following these instructions.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding! :100:

Status changed to: Launched
Community Manager
Community Manager