Record templates are out of beta

Airtable post: New: Record templates - Airtable Community


Thanks so much for posting this breaking news, @Databaser! :sunglasses: :raised_hands:

To me, this is such a weird addition to the product, because all of this could already be done with automations, single-select fields, and formulas. It almost feels to me like they are admitting two things:

  1. That this was the most common task that people were using automations for.
  2. That automations were way too complicated for people to understand and use.

I find record templates more confusing than automations. The basic usage of using a template to create a new record in a single table is fine. But applying templates to existing records and templates that include linked records gets complicated because different people expect different behavior regarding overwriting existing values. And there are situations where the template almost works but not quite, such as when you want a variable number of linked records or a more complex system of child records.

Of course automations are commonly used to create and update records. Record templates are a way to create and update records with predefined sets of values/records.

Record templates are a weird mix between default values and automations.

  • Default values apply to only a single field upon record creation. The main issues with default values are that they have been inconsistently implemented—some field types cannot take default values and historically default values only applied in some methods of creating records. It would also be nice to have dynamic default values like the current date/time.

  • Automations apply only when the automation is triggered and the developer has full control over the resulting value for each field individually. Each automation action also applies to only a single record.

  • Record templates are a mix because they can be used both at record creation like default values and later on in the record lifecycle like automations. They also are weird because they can involve multiple records.

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I’ve used it for creating subtask and must say that I really like it more for that use case than doing the same in automations. You click the “+” button and get to see all the fields at once. So no more adding every single field separately like in automations. At the end, just make 1 automation that adds the template to a record et voila.

Especially like the “relative date” functionality!

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