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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: !

14 - Jupiter
14 - Jupiter

Iโ€™m fairly certain the removal of whitespace is a browser engine issue (HTML), and not exclusively an Airtable issue. Browser engines already do this โ€” they automatically clip whitespace on the outsides of strings, and automatically remove whitespace beyond the first in between string characters.

In order for Airtable to โ€œfixโ€ this behavior, they would have to make an assumption that you want the extra whitespace, and modify your data by HTML encoding the whitespace for you. Not exactly a clear issue or a clean solution.

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Yes, in my opinion, the #1 most important thing is to always assume that people want their data to be displayed exactly as it was typed in, because the whole point of a database is for people to keep track of their data accurately โ€” or at least be able to see WHERE the data wasnโ€™t typed in accurately, so they can then clean it up to become accurate.

If people canโ€™t see their extra spaces onscreen, it makes it nearly impossible to troubleshoot problems with scripts, automations, filtering, sorting, the REST API, integrations with other apps, etc. It makes it impossible for people to figure out why things that should be working properly arenโ€™t working properly โ€” or figure out why a certain record suddenly got left out of a report or got left out of an automation.

And it can cause problems later on when theyโ€™re suddenly creating a Word document or an Excel document or a PDF document with that data, and all of a sudden, for the very first time, they suddenly see that their data was typed in incorrectly. Airtable never showed them the problems with their data, but theyโ€™re seeing all of the problems for the first time when they export the data out of Airtable.

It also makes things unnecessarily confusing. For example, seeing the same exact identical option repeated multiple times in a Single Select Field (i.e. because Airtable truncated the extra spaces) makes absolutely no sense to the user & causes great confusion, until they realize that there was a data entry error โ€” that all of those seemingly-identical options actually have varying amounts of spaces in them.

Iโ€™ve been in the database industry for 36 years, and Iโ€™ve never worked with a database program that changes peopleโ€™s typed data onscreen so they canโ€™t see what their accurate data is.

Accurate data is the name of the game. If nothing else, the ONLY thing I care about is accurate data being displayed onscreen.

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Right on the heels of us talking about this issue, another person stumbled into this spacing problem today:

18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Hi @Christy_Roach!

Any additional follow-up from our additional comments above?


10 - Mercury
10 - Mercury

Wow, whaaat is going on here. So many :two_hearts: for @Christy_Roach so I want to be part of the party :partying_face:

Well, hopefully the dip in [accidential] field creation wouldnโ€™t impact the balance sheet and income statement at Airtable :slightly_smiling_face:

I have one request when it comes to creating a new row / new record. The option to INSERT RECORD ABOVE in menu (Right Click on any cell) is disabled in all views that have the option โ€œSorted by a fieldโ€ turned on. If this option is not tuned on, both Insert Record Above + Insert Record Below are available. I donโ€™t see why would there be a reason for it. It causes issues when the table is sorted and every time I insert the record into the 2nd top row (just below the 1st row) and the moment the record it inserted, it moves up to the first row before I can edit it. Itโ€™s quite annoying.

Sorting in my view is set by a value in one of the fields and the new row value of the field is zero (of course because itโ€™s a new row), so the row should be created as the 1st top-most row. But because the right-click option is not there, I am left with the option to create the row in the 2nd positon. Then the following switcheroo happens every time the record is insertedโ€ฆ

Is the comment good here, or do you feel I am crashing the party here and should start my own lovely thread?

12 - Earth
12 - Earth

Just for the record, but you can still edit it when it highlights. If I recall correctly, it only โ€œjumpsโ€ in order when you click outside the record. You can click in a cell or use tab.

10 - Mercury
10 - Mercury

Yes I can still edit while itโ€™s highlighted and if Iโ€™m careful not to click outside in the danger zone :warning: