The Latest on Podio’s Calculation Field Delays

Latest News on Podio's Calculation Field Delays | Defined Ventures, Inc.

Podio calculation fields can be used to take the platform to the next level. These field types are not just simple math; they allow an experienced user to use a simplified version of JavaScript to all kinds of things. They can be utilized like a conditional statement – only pulling the needed information into a related app – and can do almost any math or date manipulation possible in JavaScript. Thus, when combined with markdown, they can be used to create tables of related items inside calculation fields.

Slow Calculations, or No Calculations?

Podio has had several incidents in the past weeks where the front end was inaccessible for a few minutes, but by and large, this was more of a slow connection issue rather than an “unavailable” error. While the front end had some slow-downs, the API itself was still responsive. The most affected system was calculation fields. At one point, there was a delay of three minutes to run a calculation field and sometimes the update wouldn’t happen at all. To fix this, it is as simple as updating an item that the calculation is based on, and it would fire instantly when done in the off hours.

What Is the Cause?

The sheer power and flexibility of Podio has attracted a massive influx of new users from small businesses to enterprise users.  With influx of new features on top this, Podio can be made into a resource intensive system. From 2015 to 2016, Podio’s data usage had doubled. The good news is that Podio is committed to making the platform better on top of fixing the current issues.

How Is It Being Resolved?

Podio has communicated that they are performing system updates via support responses as well as statements made to the partner community that they are upgrading the infrastructure and servers that power the calculations. Unfortunately, they have not given a specific timeline and have reported that they will make a public update when it is completed. There are scheduled updates, but since they aren’t specifying what they are for we don’t know if this is going to be one of the issues addressed during that maintenance.

Is It Avoidable?

The best way to avoid having extended delays in your calculation fields is to make sure that you are using the minimum number of required calculation fields. As an example, if you have a calculation field on quotes to see what the “won” value is, and then another calculation field in the client to see the total won value that could easily be simplified into a single calculation field. This way, you only have to deal with the delay once, rather than having to wait for the entire delay on again on the client field. In general, the best way to do this is by having relationship fields connecting your data to any point where it is needed instead of having calculations pull information from nested relationships through to the end item.

Let’s Take This a Step Further

During these issues, the webhook system and API were the least impacted. API calls coming directly to Podio were typically as responsive as they would normally be with only a few second delays during the peak delays. Webhooks that triggered automations from Podio sometimes had a minute or two delays. Calculation fields were sometimes taking upwards of 5 minutes. That means that any integration can be triggered, parse the math/logic that a calculation field would typically do, and then update Podio with the response before the calculation field itself has ever updated.

Calculations vs. API Automation

Calculation fields are handled by Podio and their internal servers, so they are parsed at whatever rate the Citrix servers are capable of. An API automation is hosted by either yourself or a company like Defined Ventures, Inc. that you contract to manage the automations. The good news is that means you can parse data from Podio as fast as you can read it. To compare on September 26, 2017 the calculations had a 30 second delay while the webhook system was at 0 seconds, and the API response at 0.176 seconds. Unfortunately, this does mean facing an additional cost of hosting, but ensuring a real time response on your data and workflows will save time.

Automation Implementation

You should contact us for an initial consultation with our engineers to see how much of a difference using the API can make for you and your Podio team. Once we understand how you are using your calculations, we can typically recommend either changes to the implementation or outright replacement with custom integrations. Depending on the scope of your calculation field(s) that recommendation could be as simple as a training on how best to use JavaScript and references to valuable tutorials or it could include a detailed description of how the automation will replace the existing calculation field, a timeline to implement, and a project price for the service.

This Is Only the Beginning

Automations to replace calculations are only the beginning, using the API you can integrate to any other open platform. With this freedom, you can make an ideal workflow, create a completely custom reporting suite, and most importantly automate your Podio system. If you don’t know where to begin with such an open ended system, that is what we are here to help with. In addition to a consultation with our engineers, you should check out our older blog posts and learn how the art of automation can begin to elevate your business to the next level.

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