Understanding the difference between tables and forms

Learn the important differences between Tables and Forms and how they behave in live mode.

Why is the difference important? Because the wrong setting can make the spreadsheet unusable.

A spreadsheet can become unusable when too many people try to edit it simultaneously—plus they might see data that they're not supposed to see.

  • By default, when you insert action elements (such as buttons or checkboxes), you are inserting them into a Table.
  • However, you can also turn that table into a Form.

In edit mode, Tables and Forms look identical but they behave differently in live mode.

So what is exactly is the difference?

  • With the Table behavior, everyone can see each other's changes, just like they're working on a shared document together.
  • With the Forms behavior, everyone gets the own personal instance of the table, so they only see their own changes.

To change table behavior, open dropdown menu next to the title of your table, and select the appropriate option.

Table visibility menu

An example of when a table should be a form

It's easier to understand the behavior of Tables and Forms with an example.

Suppose that you're using Rows to create a feedback form for your new website. It looks like this:

Example of a feedback form

  • You create a private link and send it to your friend Bob... and later that day, you send it to Alice, another friend.
  • Alice emails you to ask about a weird comment in the form—she's confused.
  • When you open the link to see what Alice sees, this is how it looks:

Example of a completed feedback form

What went wrong?

You forgot to change the table behavior to Form and Bob has entered a frivolous comment.

  • With the Table behavior, Alice can see the latest change to the spreadsheet (from anyone)—and Bob happened to make the latest change.

  • If you share it again with the Form behavior, Alice will only see the default comment "Enter your comment here" even if Bob has entered something else in his instance of the table.

In summary

Use the following cheatsheet to decide the most appropriate behaviour for your table:

Do you want your users to...Then choose...Good for...
See changes made by everyone?TableTeam reports
See only their own changes?FormCalculators and forms

Form Limitations

  • You can’t send data from a Table to a Form.
  • You can’t reference cells in a Form in a Table.
  • Forms do not support REPEAT(), REFRESH(), and SCHEDULE() functions.

But don’t worry - we detect these limitations in real time and let you know if you need to change something.