Changes to permissions for unlicensed users - View cell history

Mike Kampff
Mike Kampff ✭✭
edited 12/09/19 in Smartsheet Basics

I just received notice that Smartsheet is making changes to its permissions for unlicensed users. 

While I agree with the spirit of the changes (although it's not exactly clear what's changing, only how collaborator permissions will be on 9/19), what I do recognize and have a huge issue with is the decision to remove the ability for collaborators to view cell history.

We purchased and implemented Smartsheet in part because of the ability to allow project team members to view the history of action items, risks, etc over time using the cell history rather than having to use forced line breaks in a cell like we used to do with Excel. Major investment and effort rolling out Smartsheet and now a significant collaboration feature is being taken away.

Without collaborators being able to see the cell history, we have to go back to the old method, which is going to make Smartsheet much more cumbersome. Instead of replacing values, we'll have to keep a running history of status in our Status Description fields on all our projects meaning the rows are going to significantly grow vertically.

Anyone else see this as a big step backward in terms of collaboration? I don't understand why viewing cell history isn't viewed as a collaborator-type permission, rather than licensed-user-only permission? How is collaborator viewing cell history in conflict with Smartsheet's stated intention that "creating, owning, administering, or driving a process, program, or project in Smartsheet should require a paid license"?


  • Whilst my organisation will not be affected by this to the same degree, I completely agree with your post. Viewing cell history is merely looking at data, not performing any kind of design, development or administrative function. I can understand most of the changes proposed by Smartsheet, but I can't see the need to deny access to cell history, and I hope that this particular decision is reviewed and reversed.

  • I completely agree with Mike and view the removal of the ability for all collaborators to view the cell history as a huge step backwards for SmartSheet. Our organization is just starting to get some momentum with SmartSheet and is actively migrating existing work flows and reports into SmartSheet. With this specific change one of the primary advantages of SmartSheet for the organization and the ability to keep the reports focused and short while maintaining the ability to view the cell history when needed is being removed. I strongly recommend rolling back this function to maintain the current access levels.

  • This is a huge blow and will make it significantly harder for my company to use Smartsheet.  I can kind of understand some of the other changes but getting rid of cell history makes no sense.  

  • Turns out this (view cell history) is the only feature on the target list our unlicensed users have used!

    Please reconsider


  • My hope is that Smartsheet will reconsider restricting Viewing Cell History to licensed users only.  This would be taking steps backwards for me too.  I have responded back to the announcement email, but I don't know if those are monitored.  I have added my own comments as a community post as well.

    To Pauls suggestion, no, having a long history of retained comments in a project comment cell is not an acceptable alternative.  You end up with a very long list of expired comments with no accountability to who entered or edited the comments, or when.

  • Agree. We use this as our digital signature for compliance and training particularly on some of our large sheets with over 300 collaborators.  We will need to start look at alternate solutions to satisfy our auditors

  • Paul Newcome
    Paul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I am not referring to a comment cell. I am referring to actual row comments that can be accessed by clicking on the little speech bubble to the left of each row. Every comment is date and time stamped and records who made the comment. You can also use the @mention feature to have people alerted to your comment and can even reply to specific comments.

  • Paul, Row comments are not a solution for me.  For the same reason I explained for comments in a cell, but also the row comments don't appear in reports, so it's not a functionally viable alternative for our use of Smartsheet.  Not to get stuck on comments, loosing the ability of collaborators to view history will be a challenge for many other data columns as well.

  • Paul Newcome
    Paul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    "...You end up with a very long list of expired comments with no accountability to who entered or edited the comments, or when."


    Row comments are actually date and time stamped, and they record who made the comment.

    The accountability is there along with the ability to reply to a specific comment or post a new comment to that particular row if a new discussion is required.


    1st Screenshot


    "...row comments don't appear in reports..."


    They actually do.


    2nd Screenshot



  • Just received the notification from Smartsheet that “Upon further review, we have decided that at this time we will maintain access to the View Cell History feature for all users”. This is excellent news, and a fine example of a company listening to fair and constructive feedback from its customers and acting accordingly. Well done to the Smartsheet team!