Airtable attachment support via URL changing in March 2023

Hi there!

My softr app displays lots of images that originate from airtable. Some “image” fields in my lists are not getting their image from an attachment field in airtable but from a FORMULA field, that dynamically calculates the URL of the attachment.

Linking an Softr IMAGE field with a Airtable FOMULA field currently works without problem. However this might radically change after February 8th, 2023.:

Can someone from Softr tell me if my app will stop displaying these prictures after that date? What should I do to avoid this?

I’m surprised you are not already seeing breakage here. Are you saying it’s working 100% correctly today? My experience with formula fields that use image urls is that they work initially but the link expires and the image breaks.

yes works flawlessly…

That’s interesting. Let’s see what Softr says. FWIW, my prediction is that the answer is going to be that Softr is totally out of the loop here and can’t do anything one way or the other to help us.

Another way to think about it is that once you write the formula in Airtable that takes advantage of the feature that Airtable is killing (referencing an attachment field in a formula to get its URL), you’re creating the conditions for breaking any app that uses the data in that field, not just Softr.

The links obtained by referring to an attachment field in Formulas will not change (for backward compatibility considerations), and will therefore become invalid roughly around February 8th, 2023. The filename obtained in the same way will continue to work as expected.

to clarify: are images that are shared via ATTACHMENT field also supposed to stop working? i guess not? what type of fields can we use to share assets then? only attachment fields? or will lookup fields that are looking up attachment fields form a different table continue to work?

I still want to hear what Softr folks have to say, but that never stops me from weighing in with what I want.

The way I look at it, retrieving the Airtable URL of an attachment field has been a workaround/hack for two different features that we need in our apps. These are:

  1. The ability to “host a file on the Internet” whose source of truth is in Airtable
  2. The ability to use that URL in HTML/JS/CSS that we create ourselves for our apps

In the first case, it would be helpful for Softr to either a) add a feature where an attachment in Airtable can be mirrored to Softr’s CDN and the URL available to us in custom code, or b) assert they aren’t in that business, so we can do it ourselves with Make or Zapier.

In the second case, I think the #nocode spirit of Softr means that first and foremost the most common cases for needing that URL should be implemented in Softr. One example I know of is to add alt text to images. I am not sure what else it’s used for, but I bet that the 80/20 rule applies.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

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This topic has several considerations, and it seems that at this point, no one really knows the implications on their workflows.

I can confirm that using formula fields to grab attachment URLs is working fine on my softr apps.
Reading airtable announcements I realize that my workflows should be broken by now, but they are not.

‘Formulas grabbing URL from attachments fields will not break, however, the obtained attachment link will not refresh on the formula field, and will be expired in 3 hours’

This is very very scary…

FWIW that’s what I thought too - the urls work at first but don’t later on. So I was surprised to hear that this was 100% working for the OP.

@david007 if you are creating the links via URL you might consider mapping attachment field directly to softr field to be on the safe side. Your formula is static hence the urls within will expire. When we as softr access the attachment field we will get the url on demand hence fresh one each time

the thing is: I have a couple of thousands of records. each record needs to display one out of three distinct pictures. instead of adding the picture to each of the record and increase my database size considerably (i am already at 19GB and can’t go over 20 GB) i stored 3 pics in a separate table and just refer to the specific pic in question via a link-field. so i only need to store 3 pictures in total, instead of thousands of identical pictures. also replacing pictures is much easier with linked fields if some pictures are used by multiple records. so i guess that wont be possible and i’ll have to store the picture on the record level. since i’m doing this in mutliple locations on various tables, i will have some work to do :-/

Seems if they expire then it will get expired just within Airtable too. Someone needs to create airtable companion storage system :slight_smile:

Can anyone confirm if there has been an announcement from Softr? It looks like all of our apps are going to break…

At the risk of going in circles… this is only going to break one very specific feature, and it’s going to break it for any app built on top of Airtable, not just Softr. The feature it’s going to break is the use of attachment URLs generated by referring to a field of type Attachment in a formula for the purpose of generating a public URL to the attachment.

@dcoletta is right formula fields relying on Airtable will break as formula will be calculated with an outdated link. This will even break inside Airtable… This is though not a common case. Most of Softr’s use cases will be fine…