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Feature Request: Kick users off of sheets (using command or timer)

Brad Jones
Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited 12/09/19 in Archived 2016 Posts

OK, so I'm working to fix the sheet for my team in China while they are all at home sleeping soundly.  Problem is that over half their team is still logged into SS and viewing the sheet I want to fix.  If their autosave features are set incorrectly, or they make the simple human error of treating this thing like an offline program, then our data can be damaged (yes, I've seen it, it's a problem).


I've sent emails to the users, but they're your typical users.... lazy.  They want the most convenient thing, and that's to not open/close every day.  Just leave it there runninng.


So, can we please get a feature to kick users off of a sheet while it's being updated by the owner?  It'd be super useful for me and the other admins out there.  Or Sheet Owner 'switch' that will lock their view and not allow them to work until they refresh.  Or, better yet, make a setting which will automatically kick someone out of any sheet they have not used after a certain period of idle time.





  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams ✭✭✭✭✭✭



    Do you think this is a Sheet Owner permission, user with Admin privileges, or Sys Admin function?

    I can see these sorts of features being misappropriated for the wrong purpose.


    I'm not opposed to it, I kind of like it, though in my day-to-day activity I don't need it.


    Here's a related use case:

    During a meeting, it would be nice to lock the sheet so only one person can edit it (the person tasked with the minutes, for example). It is very obvious when remote people are not paying full attention to the presenter when they are updating the sheet from the last topic.


    It is likely the Owner might not be in the meeting though - I would have most of the sheets created by one or two Admin's and the users, including management, would be editors or viewers only.


    Just thinking out loud.



  • Michelle Watkins
    edited 12/14/16

    Hi Brad,


    A trick I have used - assuming the sheet is shared at the workspace level and does not have separate sheet only sharing - is to temporarily drag the sheet from the shared workspace to either my personal Sheets folder or a personal workspace (this removes everyone's access except those that may be shared in your personal workspace if you take that approach over a sheet), make my updates, then drag the sheet back to the shared workspace (in which everyone in that workspace will re-gain sharing permissions.


    Another thing to consider is giving the users Reports of their tasks and have them work and update from their Report view.  Or use the sheet publish feature to provide the users a published version of the sheet via URL - you have options on how you want them to interact with the sheet.  One option - they can still view and make updates that will update the master sheet, but won't hold your master sheet hostage when they go into their sleep zone while you are awake!  I previously also had teams in China (and India) where we collaborated using Smartsheet - so I totally understand!


    Hope this helps!

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @Craig,   Thanks 


    I had not thought about during meetings, but that's definitely a realistic use case for temporarily locking sheets.  My biggest worry is that I'll make lots of changes and then a user with an old cached version of the sheet will come in from the weekend, make one change, and then save their really old sheet on top of mine.  So far I have not see large conflicts, but honestly there are so many things you have no history for (formatting, filters, etc)


    @ Michelle,  two good ideas.


    I have not worked much with reports, and feel like i've missed out on some features, but I started small with SS and rapidly needed many new hats.  I'll investigate them more.


    Do you know if by dragging it out of the WS, editing, and then dragging it back, if it will prevent a user who has never closed the browser from loading an old cached version of their sheet on top of it if the permissions were revoked and reestablished before the user even touches their browser?  (like say, overnight or over the weekend)

  • I have been using Smartsheet for 6 years with large teams and have not experienced any caching and others sheets overlaying anything that was more current.


    I would definitely recommend sending your question to support@smartsheet.com to get a firmer confirmation on your question - Do you know if by dragging it out of the WS, editing, and then dragging it back, if it will prevent a user who has never closed the browser from loading an old cached version of their sheet on top of it if the permissions were revoked and reestablished before the user even touches their browser?  (like say, overnight or over the weekend).


    Support has been a great resource to help me understand the programming logic of Smartsheet's collaboration / sharing when it comes to multiple people in the same sheet at the same time.  

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 12/15/16

    Thanks @Michelle,  

    I have put it to them today.  


    I've seen folks overwriting eachothers data, and overwriting mine.   Normally it just looks like someone accidentally deleted the cell.  While it is powssible that my engineers are,  going into rows they don't normally work on, pressing the delete key, and then doing nothing to fix it - that's three 'if's deep.  It's not happening terribly often, I'm just concerned about data changing incorrectly without me noticing in time to fix it.  I act as system owner and moderator for the information, so....


    Even still, if there are multiple people logged into the same sheet at once this can't be good for performance.  Why not save the resources for those who are active instead of those who are not using the system correctly?  Have an admin selectable system setting for "you get the boot after Xmin of inactivity". 


    PS.  6 years and only 44 points on your profile.  You're a quiet one Sealed





    Forgot to answer your earlier post.  

    For the "kick out inactive users after Xmin" setting, I think it should be a sys-admin function.  Just don't see a need to change that setting often, and I don't want to rely on users to have that setting.

    For the "lock people out of this sheet temporarily", I think it should be a sheet owner setting but it should have a maximum duration of something like 3-6 hours.  I agree that it has potential for abuse, but as the sheet owner can already Share and Un-Share they have this power now.  It'd be better if they have a temporary lock for maintenance, or meetings Wink.

  • Kris Young
    edited 12/18/16

    We have this issue as well and its a pain. I think the issue overall is users are used to Online excel where you can edit collaborately at the same time cell by cell and it saves where smartsheet saves entire sheet each time and overrides. I have talked to support and its not on their roadmap to make cell by cell saving so we can all ensure we are working at the exact same time collaboratively. I was told to watch for the refresh button and ensure all users refresh before they edit and save. issue is i am in middle of editing a line and refresh shows so i have to refresh, start again and save fast to ensure no data gets moved all around etc. love the product but this saving thing has caused us issues since we started using it.

  • Tim Meeks
    Tim Meeks ✭✭✭✭✭✭



    I like your solution of suggestions of a System Admin being able to setup a time for kicking out users and for Sheet Owners being able to lock out users temporarily.


    Also, I agree with @Michelle's comments on Reports. I've used rather extensively and they are a great way to have users make updates to only certain columns in a sheet. However, you still may run into the same issues of updating the same cell.. as Reports are really a filter to the sheet and not a true report.


    I concur with your comment about @Michelle with 6 years and now only 133 pts. I've been just over 3 years...and have over 2400.  We could use her wisdom.... Maybe she's spending all her time actually working in SS and not posting in the community like me and you. Foot in Mouth  Laughing


    As for the saving and refresh and issues, both your and @Kris' comments have confused me a bit on how SS does synching of data.  (see Help info farther below.)


    Based on my understanding as a user, there should be no issues as long as I make sure to SAVE my data BEFORE I Refresh and even then, the system ASKS me if I want to Save first before refreshing.  The only issue would be if another user updates the same cell as I did...  Then my understanding based on the below from help is that the system takes the lastest date/time saved data for that cell and populates.  It should do that because of the date/time stamp on the View History. 

    I'm sure this has been asnwered elsewhere, but maybe Shaine or an employee can give us more detail.







    When you see the pop-up message alerting you that another collaborator has saved changes to the sheet, click on the blue refresh icon and select the Refresh link. If you have unsaved changes, the application will prompt you to Save them first. Upon refreshing, you should be able to see the changes you just made and any changes others have saved.

    If you've both made changes to the same cell, the last saved change will be displayed in the cell. The first change made will be viewable by right-clicking on the cell (Mac users can [Ctrl]+click) and selecting View History.

  • Kris Young

    @Tim - Yes it now does prompt and that is very new so it might eliminate the issue. when we have been editing and saving in different areas of the sheet and did not refresh first - it moved all our lines arround on the sheet. we have hunderds of projects listed (high level titles and a few childs) on one sheet sorted by team member. Someone would make a change and save and not see the little refresh circle and lines would move all over. the new prompt may help - we will pay attention and see. just really used to not having to refresh and now i am editing.. then going to save and prompted so dont save, start my edits over and then save quickly. better but nothing like cell by cell auto saving like excel etc. hope this explains better

  • Kris Young

    @Tim - udpate - today it didnt prompt me to save or dont save yet it had the little blue refresh there. that is part of the issue we see. we dont see the little blue thing  or dont refresh, save and it doesnt prompt (smetimes it does but not 100%) and then lines move all over the sheet in different orders.

  • Tim Meeks
    Tim Meeks ✭✭✭✭✭✭


    Interesting.... I hope i'm not instulting your knowledge of Smartsheet... but in my 2 years of using Smartsheet, I've not had this occur. The prompt doesn't appear until you try to save. THEN if you have made Changes AND a collabator has also made changes, WHEN you Go to REFRESH to accept their changes, it SHOULD prompt you to SAVE. Below is what you should see.


    If it does not, then this is a BUG and needs to be reported to SUPPORT.





    Refresh 1.jpg

    Refresh 2.jpg

  • Kris Young

    @Tim - no worries - if i hit refresh button it prompts but if you dont and dont see it and just hit save icon - it just saves. that is where issue lies. I talked to support a while ago and they said you have to use the refresh button and that if you dont and miss it, yes what we are seeing can occur. trying to train staff to always look for icon and refresh, but they are so used to excel saving by cell they often forget and lines move all over. we are still working on it so we know "how" we are supposed to do it. Just wish it was a cell by cell auto save like online excel is. A girls gotta have wishes right :-) We use the product to manage tons of team projects and everyone loves it, that just an issue we come across all the time. thanks so much for confirming we were doing it right though. always helpful!

  • Brad Jones
    Brad Jones ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    The problem here is that any control based on procedure is weaker than a control based on design.   "Instructions" are circumventable solutions, while "Designs" are inherent solutions.

    If I have to 1. Tell every user to be careful all the time, 2. Have them save after every cell change, and 3. Have them repeat their work if other collaborators are saving before they finish... I am in a bad spot. 


    I have this scenario happen every time I train a new team on how to use SS, as we go through some practice exercises and I have them edit rows in a sheet.  Every time someone asks, "Hey, what happened to the change I just made?  I saved it and now it's gone!"


    The problem still exists that I can overwrite the changes of a colleague because I am the typical lazy user who just clicks quickly on popups to get rid of them.  There needs to be a better design for this.  If it's cell by cell save, then that needs to be implemented. 


This discussion has been closed.