Faster workflows

Summary
Rather than a new feature request, this is more of a general ask for improvement on workflow performance. This has been a very critical bottleneck, not only for me but for others too (it’s come up before in conversation).

Example
Right now, an action button that triggers a workflow, or a standalone workflow, might fire immediately. But more often, it fires anywhere from 1-3 minutes later, but sometimes (far too often) it’s over 5 minutes. Me and others have even see 10+ minute wait times.

Also, even a 30 second delay is really an unacceptable delay for certain processes where actions need to be taken quickly by the user. Even 15 seconds can be a pain, depending on the process. Whereas Airtable automations reliably fire within 2-4 seconds which allows for a much quicker continuation of whatever wider process is being followed that is dependent on that automation.

My limited understanding is that workflows are governed by a sort of queue system. Not sure what is involved in upping the performance here, but I would say it’s an absolute necessity not only to the workflows portion of the product, but to the entirety of the product itself. I know others have felt like they can’t trust workflows due to how slow it is sometimes, which in turn bleeds into a lower trust or view of the product as a whole. It also makes debugging a big frustration.

I really love Noloco Workflows and have leaned heavily into them for very particular automations. I love that they’re so integrated into the builder and can be triggered by action buttons and all that, and can pick up the metadata for the user who triggered the workflow… that alone is super valuable over and against using an external solution (i.e. Make/Zapier). Best of all, they are “local” or “native” workflows which should mean, in theory, that they are faster than using Make or Zapier. However, I’m staring to realize that Make and Zapier (with instant triggers) are probably, on average, significantly faster.

I’m not going to move away from Noloco workflows quite yet as I would have to overhaul a lot of processes, but I do see this as a necessary area for improvement, and I know I’m not alone in that perspective.

Thanks Noloco team, you guys really are the best!

2 Likes

I personally can not share the experience of these delays. My workflows tend to work almost immediately. Perhaps they are simpler, smaller, etc. than yours? I don’t know. Then again, I have a lot of “for each” steps in my workflows with many fields to update.

I have tested this by vielwing the Noloco page and the Airtable base side-by-side. I trigger the Noloco workflow, and within 1-5 seconds changes start to happen in Airtable. That does not mean, of course, that sometimes it takes longer and I don’t notice it because I am not waiting for the results of those workflows to show.

My only “time-pain” is normally how long it sometimes takes for data that was changed (by Noloco) in Airtable to come back to the Noloco user page and be visible there.

1 Like

That’s interesting. I’ve heard from others pretty strongly that they experience very unpredictable performance. Sometimes its fast, but other times they experience 5+ minute delays. That’s been my experience. I wonder on a technical level why this is, and what could be done to fix it.

Also totally agree about updates being reflected in Noloco. Sometimes I’ll change a linked record in Noloco, then a lookup field in my app (that looks into that linked field) might take anywhere from 5 seconds to several minutes to update.

I have raised the timing issue with @darragh on a few occasions and since we started, the speed has already increased significantly. Obviously there are many parameters and parties involved including airtable and “the internet”.

But my observation in general is, that changes arrive pretty quickly in Airtable. The delay issue is mostly in the return path into the front end of the Noloco interface.

But I really know far too little on a technical level to comment any further.

But yes, from a user perspective speed is vital especially when you are working off lists of tasks. A few seconds x200 starts adding up.

That’s interesting. I’ve experienced a lot of delay with the actions themselves. So for example, I had to wait 10-15 mins for Noloco to send an email the other day😅

Hey all!

Just to update you, we really appreciate all the feedback on our Workflows, and we want you to know we’ve listened.

As of yesterday, we rolled out a change to how we schedule and run workflows, which should bring massive improvements to how quickly a triggered workflow starts.

I hope you can all notice the impact in your apps!

As always, let us know in any case.

:rocket:

2 Likes

Really so happy to hear this Darragh. I’ll be especially conscious of this as I’m building and will follow-up with feedback either way. THANK YOU!