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Petition for the attention of the (wonderful) Airtable Product Team - Please decouple the Add Field and Add Record buttons from a Table ๐Ÿ™

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10 - Mercury
10 - Mercury

Hey there,

I want to first off note that I donโ€™t want this to sound like a complaint. :pray:

I love Airtable, and I have used it now for 3 years across countless large organisations and medium-sized clients. Heart

I use it for everything I do. But there was always one part of the UX that I always saw stressing users out, and that was the way you can just click and accidentally add a brand new record at the bottom without ever meaning to. The process to create a record was so easy it was overwhelming, because to non-experienced, pressing command + z is often not learned, so theyโ€™d see Airtable as a place where it wasnโ€™t safe to click anywhere (A problem later solved, in part for teams, by restricting peopleโ€™s ability to add records in a base, or just using a sync so nobody can create records), and letโ€™s not even talk about creating a record which is part of a filtered view because thatโ€™s just madness squared โ€ฆ But when teaching Airtable, all Iโ€™ve ever heard for 3 years now is a lot of โ€œWhoopsโ€โ€ฆโ€œDidnโ€™t mean to do thatโ€โ€ฆโ€œWhoops, where did that go?โ€, โ€œWhoops, how do I?โ€/โ€ฆ etc etc etc

And even to experienced users, the daily mini-frustrations I, myself, have when accidentally creating a record and having to command + z was one thing I was sure that Airtable would fix sooner or later, so I didnโ€™t let it bug me, and went on my merry wayโ€ฆ Loving pretty much everything else about Airtable, creating thousands of accidental records along the wayโ€ฆโ€œWhoops, command+zโ€

CleanShot 2021-02-10 at 11.39.54

Then August 2020 hit, and they let a team mess around with the record creation flow, causing mayhem among my clients, and colleagues alike, creating, what I think is one of the longest threads on this community yet.

We all had a little moan, a little joke, and I think for the most part they changed the functionality back - even though, itโ€™s still, in my opinion, clunkier than it was before it was messed with.

But then something happened about a month backโ€ฆ Whereby Airtable have given the field creation process the record treatment and made all sides of their app complete and utter minefields. So today, as I created my 10th accidental field of the day, I decided to write a polite petition to ask the UX designer and Product teamโ€ฆnay, BEG them to fix this!

Hereโ€™s my suggestion as an alternative:

  1. Keep the Plus signs. Theyโ€™re nice and clear. Everyone is happy :green_circle:
  2. Please for the love of god stop messing with this empty space - This is important space that doesnโ€™t need to be clickable ๐Ÿ”ด

CleanShot 2021-02-10 at 11.49.09

and โ€ฆ

  1. If you really, REALLY have toโ€ฆWhy not add a little friendly round button that a user can click on, so that we can all be very comfortable that this behaviour was intentional :large_blue_circle:

It feels like this decision was made to increase field creation, which just seems mad to me. I typically want less fieldsโ€ฆNot more! This is the graph of user frustration that I imagine the analytics doesnโ€™t show:

funtimes with graphs

Please say itโ€™s not just me :cry:

As a side note, Iโ€™ve actually been building my bases in Google Sheets recently, and my stress levels have been decreasing as a consequence, but it still feels a little like this

And as another side noteโ€ฆAirtable Product team - Sorry for the rant. I rant because I care :crazy_face: โ€ฆ You all rock :metal: !

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Lol. Yes, I spend a lot of time in testing. However I try to import my test data whenever possible, which speeds things up, and which I donโ€™t consider that to be the same as manual data entry (which is what is sped up by clicking that bar to create new records).

10 - Mercury
10 - Mercury

I echo literally every response here! Airtable, you broke my heart.


7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Unfortunately, the new users are not the ones who are paying employments salaries.
I have a small Real Estate Agency, and our annual cost is around 2k per year. Yes maybe it is not much. but all of my employees, are not new users (4 years we are using airtable), and yet as pointed by so many people, it is clear that your statistics were wrong. It is quite significant amount of time. And many people are not aware of these accidental, or they are really stressed where to click , while they have in mind to fill or edit data in a cell. So in terms of User Experience, airtable has failed listening their users-customers. And they are the one who will bring moreโ€ฆNot the customers who have a free plan and use airtable just to plan some recipes or keep an inventory of their shoes.
All these are nice. At least you could give an option like, advanced mode, or expert mode, like many apps have which hides many unnecessary buttons or UI elements.
The latest update 1.14.0 was crashing for 3 days, giving to our company big nightmare due to recent changes we did in the structure and we thought it was our fault.
It is very simple. People want to have their data
Easy to access,
End easy to connect them.

Input data, is easy by defaultโ€ฆno need for reinventing the wheel here.
End of story.

10 - Mercury
10 - Mercury

OK, I had a good laugh on @Bill.French Bill Frenchโ€™s AirtablEconomics/AirtableErgonomics theory. So let us stretch it further then. So maybe itโ€™s all intended strategy of Airtable and we just donโ€™t understand the strategy because we are not the insiders. It could be this is a smart strategy by Airtable to drive out competitors from business. You know, the same way as spy agencies deploy their active measuresโ€ฆ YES, thatโ€™s what I was thinking. Itโ€™s Airtable active measures counter-copy-cat technique as part of their advanced defensive strategies initiatives at Airtable. Why, OK here is the proof. Why would even such a smart cโ“šโ“škie copy-cat mastermind CEO Rachit Khator fall easily for such a trick. The reason why Airtable has these plus-signs as an excellent โ€œFeatureโ€ is to have Stackby to copy them. By having Stackby copy this excellent feature, their users have to suffer and as result of that Airtable could potentially see Stackby or maybe others taking away less clients from Airtable because everybody would say, if I have to suffer, then better suffer well and hope Airtable will invent some more new punishing features.

Anyway, thatโ€™s my Fridayโ€™s late-evening theory I just came up now.


9 - Sun
9 - Sun

Hi @Christy_Roach,

I always want to thank the Department Leaders of Airtable who take the time to get down into the arena by going to our contact in the community.
Although I recently confessed in the Community that I have spent time on a Glue-Factory NOcode, I am still a very well educated student by the best and most generous Experts of their teaching here, both Airtable and Independent, which is even more generous, and I do not deny the prior analysis of the data, neither the development of a model, nor the code written in a self-critical and increasingly challenging way, nor the NOcode well used, and I donโ€™t take myself for a NOcode and Glu-Factory Conductor considering the fact that I havenโ€™t practised symphonic music of workflows, integrations, automations enough yet.
Thanks to my algorithm and programming Teachers and thanks to the Community for giving us this chance to be well educated.
It is in this context that Iโ€™m proposing you the following option:
Leave the choice (a switch has two positions on the UI) to everyone between the โ€œclassicalโ€ UI/UX and the criticized and even shot UI/UX here. Either via a Switch, or via a Menu like the โ€œthemeโ€ Menu of some Apps?
Does it make sense ?

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

@Christy_Roach, thank you for giving us an insight into the future collaboration enhancements. Those have been much needed for years.

And yes, I sincerely hope that Airtable creates more community engagement with us, particularly Airtable consultants like myself who interact with dozens of Airtable users every week. We are in the trenches every day, and we know what the users are saying about the product.

In general, it seems like Airtable is more concerned about attracting new users to the platform, but Airtable is not paying attention to the people who are LEAVING the platform and THE REASONS WHY they are leaving the platform.

Airtable thinks theyโ€™re filling a bucket with tons of customers, but theyโ€™re not paying attention to the hole at the bottom of the bucket which is leaking customers & causing people who were once fans of the product to badmouth the product instead.

As a full-time professional Airtable consultant, every time someone leaves the Airtable platform, it weakens the platform and it hurts my future income.

It is shocking to me that Airtable canโ€™t understand how detrimental it is to ALL USERS (new & old) for the entire right side of the screen to create a new field. This simply can NOT be the final outcome of this feature. Itโ€™s simply not acceptable.

But this feature is not the only major product flaw.

I have been keeping an internal list of over 200 product flaws like this in the product that my clients have complained about (and most of these product flaws have been complained about for years in these forums).

Here is just one example out of over 200 Airtable product flaws, but this one hurt me big time:

I just lost a very lucrative Airtable client last week because Airtable has never bothered to fix their mobile views. Did you know that Airtableโ€™s mobile views do not allow searching, sorting, filtering, or grouping?

My clientโ€™s website depended heavily on Airtable-embedded views โ€” BUT most of their customers use mobile devices to browse their website (as do the majority of people using the Internet).

But, lo and behold, despite years of user complaints about this issue, Airtable has refused to allow grouping, searching, sorting, and filtering on the mobile views. Itโ€™s available on desktop, but not on mobile. In other words, Airtableโ€™s mobile views are 95% useless.

My client even emailed Airtable Support about this, and their unhelpful response was: โ€œWe can see how fully-functional mobile views could be helpful, but itโ€™s not on our roadmap.โ€

To give some context:

My client has a website of government-related data that his customers pay a monthly subscription to access. When they pay for their monthly subscription, they get a password to access the โ€œmembership-only pagesโ€ of his website. In other words, his customers are simply paying for access to data that he keeps in his database.

He has about 25 different pages on his paid website, and each one of these 25 pages had an embedded Airtable view on it. These embedded views worked just fine on a desktop web browser โ€” his members could group, filter, sort, and search on desktop.

But since most of his customers are logging in from a mobile device (just like most of the world is doing), they could no longer group, filter, sort, and search!

This made the user experience terrible for his customers, because they could not spend their days scrolling endlessly through hundreds (or thousands) of records.

Airtable has ignored the mobile experience, even though the vast majority of users access the Internet from a mobile device.

So now, this client of mine has left Airtable, and even worse, he is now badmouthing the platform to his customers.

You guys are generating bad-will instead of goodwill.

Iโ€™ve seen clients leave the platform more than once. When people leave Airtable, theyโ€™re angry about it. They wanted to stay, and they wanted to love the product. They were once cheerleaders for the product, and then they turned against it.

Even simple & tiny product tweaks that wouldโ€™ve kept customers using the Airtable platform have been ignored for years.

Simple tweaks like:

(1) giving us calendars that work outside of the United States (weโ€™re one of the few countries where our weeks start on Sunday),
(2) currency formatting that works outside of the United States (50% of countries swap their commas and periods),
(3) column headers that are resizable for long titles.

All 3 of these very simple things have caused me to lose clients, and have caused Airtable to lose customers who now badmouth the platform.

And people have been complaining about these simple needs for years. These arenโ€™t new complaints.

And of course there are much bigger product issues, too! For example:
(1) Page Designer is flawed in many ways, but it also canโ€™t be automated in any way, and it canโ€™t create pdf files.
(2) The โ€œFind a recordโ€ automation action lets us use dynamic variables as conditional filters, but that feature hasnโ€™t found its way to lookup fields or rollup fields or linked record fields.
(3) Buttons canโ€™t trigger automations nor silently run scripts.
(4) Automations canโ€™t interact with apps.
(5) Almost no apps support printing, such as the chart app.

This is just a tiny list of the product issues that cause people to leave Airtable for competitors.

Anyways, thank you for posting here. I really hope that this is the beginning of a new chapter. :pray:

p.s. Seriously, that right margin thing needs to go.

9 - Sun
9 - Sun

Hi @ScottWorld, @Christy_Roach ,

Ignoring the mobile experience:
It caused me to have to take care of this myself, via the API.
Anyway, Iโ€™m not quite done yetโ€ฆ
โ€ฆand it will not replace word for word what your VIEWs are made of.

Yes +++

I had suggested that you make this draft App open, so that the Custom App Developers of the Community could improve it and make it automatable but โ€œthis App is not openableโ€ has been very kindly explained to me (by your DEV) because it has not been designed with the public tools of Custom App SDK I could understand.
But no other ATโ€™s developed version came to replace the one we are complaining about, here, here, and here, for a long time.
Doing this outside of Airtable has been demonstrated to us by Community top-level Expert, yes, but how many hours does it take to learn how to do it, in SDK that is not AT Custom App SDK ?!?

Thanks to @ScottWorld for compiling a certain number of these points out of his own Customers reviews:
Iโ€™m quoting reviews Iโ€™ve experienced too !

Iโ€™m working alone with a limited budget that has long since been surpassed by the need to pay for Third-Parts (thus Dependencies) to get some functional workarounds before my personal code packages are tested and finalised.

In addition to be some kind of passionate and mindful Student of R&D best practices taught by the best Experts in the Community, I am also the kind of outsider who pays for a Pro Non-Profit account at Airtable for the sole purpose of research in workflow, integration, automation in the context of a majority use of TEXT such as Data-IN and Data-Out although I do not have time to care any Customer.

In other words, my own Account analytics owned by your company which must bear witness to this: I sometimes spend most of my time on Airtable for several weeks in a row.
Do you hire some part-time TEXT-based Data Airtable Test-Pilot ? :winking_face:

My feedback remixed with those of the Experts who have Clients, a lot of Clients do not come from a small Saturdayโ€™s Office lone Man who does not think much about the problems encountered in the use / scripting of Airtable as well as in the elaboration of workarounds.



18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto


Back to the topic at hand:

Are you curious as to why your initial message is so upsetting to me?

For you to come out of the gates by defending one of the most misguided interface decisions in Airtableโ€™s history doesnโ€™t seem to bode well for the future of the platform.

If you are the new product manager for Airtable & you believe that making the entire right-hand side of the screen create new fields is acceptable, then all of us users have officially lost the war in trying to break through to the deaf ears & blind eyes & turned backs at Airtable.

If your message above represents the future of โ€œlistening to usโ€, then it doesnโ€™t give me high hopes for the future of this platform. I should just give up now.

Here are some questions for you, Christy:

  1. Once a database system is finished being built, how many times do users need to create new fields? Zero.

  2. Once a brand new user learns how to create a new field in their very first 30 seconds of using Airtable (and itโ€™s not too difficult to find the + sign in the toolbar), how many times do you think they will ever be confused after their first 30 seconds? Zero.

  3. Why would you ruin an entire productโ€™s user experience for 99.99% of your users, in order to cater to new users in their first 30 seconds of using the product?

  4. How can you possibly equate creating new records with creating new fields? One of these activities is done thousands of times per day; the other activity is done ONCE. Not once per day. ONCE ONLY.

  5. Why would you make it so easy for users to accidentally create new fields throughout the day? Bosses & managers who create databases for their users donโ€™t want their users accidentally changing the structure of their database throughout the day while using the system.

While there were some positive glimmers of hope in your post, I am not feeling very optimistic about the future.

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

I hope you donโ€™t mind that I take a stab at answering some of these questions, even though they werenโ€™t directed at me. Keep in mind that I do not like the current design.

But when is a database system ever truly finished? Many of my bases are constantly evolving. I can say that a client base is finished when I turn the base over and close out the project, but in reality, the client might want to change things later.

Also, I commonly use one-off bases like scratch paper. These bases are never finished, and they never need to be.

That 30 seconds can be a very long time for someone who is used to working with a spreadsheet and is considering Airtable. And in my experience watching people, it can be longer than 30 seconds.

Also, I think you overestimate the ability of people to forget how to do things if itโ€™s been a while since theyโ€™ve done it. People coming from a spreadsheet point of view expect to be able to type in a cell when they scroll to the right.

Itโ€™s a lot more than the first 30 seconds, per my previous comments.

I think that community members made the link between creating new records and creating new fields because we donโ€™t like the current functionality.

I think that the ability again stems from people coming from a spreadsheet background, where people are used to an endless canvas where they can easily see new rows and columns.

I personally think that Airtableโ€™s UI/UX should do a better job of gently coaxing new users to realize that Airtable is a database and not a spreadsheet, rather than trying to copy a spreadsheet experience.

Maybe those bosses and managers should have their users have editor permissions instead of creator permissions.

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

@kuovonne I replied to your comment shortly after you wrote it, but the forum auto-flagged my response. :man_shrugging: Hopefully, it will get approved on Monday.