We see a lot of confusion about using automations between parent items and subitems. To help, I wanted to write a post that offers some insight.
Automations have triggers and actions. For example: “When Status changes to Done, assign Person.” In this automation recipe, the trigger is “When Status changes to Done”, and the action is “assign Person”.
Pretty straightforward. But what if you want the trigger to be a change in a parent item and the action to be a change in a subitem?
First, the general rule is that parent items can only interact with their data and fields. However, parent items can not interact with their subitems or with the subitems of other items.
Let’s take an example. This is our board:
Let’s say that we want to use an automation to let Cassandra and Noy know that we tried the restaurant Cafecitos when the “Tried it?” column changes to the “Yes” label. In this case, we can’t use an automation to notify them. Because “Tried it?” is part of the parent item and Noy and Cassandra are subitems, an automation won’t work here. In this case, our best bet is to write an update on the item and tag Noy and Cassandra.
There’s a whole complicated technical explanation about why this isn’t possible, but I’ll spare you. The simple explanation is that, while a subitem appears under a parent item, it is a separate entity.