Can I have COLORED selection items like NOTION?

I am migrating all my clients from Notion to Coda, one application at a time.
I am doing so in order to exploit the much better FORMULA and AUTOMATION features in Coda.

My clients dont really care… they just use the ‘applications’ that I built for them.

But one HUGE difference is causing them to rebel…

In Notion, when they use selection items (single select or multi-select column types) the system AUTOMATICALLY assigns different colors to each new item. And the users can change those colors.

Then EVERYWHERE those items appear on other views and reports; they keep those colors.

This adds a lot of visual effects to all the tables, views, timelines etc. In Coda everything is monochrome!
They hate it. Help!

I KNOW I can use conditional formatting to add colors to things - but how do I arrange for the colors to be assigned AUTOMATICALLY like Notion does?

I have tried to apply the TRICK shown here;

But its not clear how this works!

I have tried to use this TRICK shown here;

But THAT seems to want me to apply formats based on matching text values for each option, when I do not know what values users wil enter later!

Perhaps I am missing something? This seems such a FUNDIMENTAL feature of almost ALL other no-code platforms, not just Notion.

I’ve invested so much time and effort migrating everything to Coda, I would HATE to have to go backwards.

It might sound silly - but the visual impact is HUGE and it impacts the USABILITY of the apps greatly.



Can you post a screenshot showing examples of where in Coda you want these to render in color but they are instead being rendered without color?

Ok - this is fairly basic stuff in Notion

Here is a TABLE view of a simple task tracker in Notion - notice how PROJECTS, PEOPLE, STATUS and PRIORITY are all selected from drop-down lists . Notion AUTOMATICALLY assigns colors to these items (but the user can change them later if they prefer). The result is colorful and the color codes have MEANING for the users.

This is the exact same TABLE in Coda. There is no color for any of the selection items. And adding such colors seems to be a laborous process for the developer and not really available to the casual user.

Below is the TIMELINE view of the table in Notion - again, see how the color coding adds meaning (as well as visual interest) to the view.

While the Coda timeline view from the same table lacks any color at all

Now, I am not hammering Coda per se, just asking how I can achieve the same visual effects.
This example is over-the-top in its use of colors, just to give an illustration.

I do think I have thought of a way to achieve this…
The selction lists will be references to separate tables. Each record in those tables will have a number field that will indicate which color to use. I can add a set of conditional formatting rules to set the cell background color based on the number. I will use a formula to allocate an initial number (random or based on timestamp; but the user can change it afterwards). I might even use color-names instead of numbers to make it more user-friendly.

I will try that out - and post the results here.

Meantime, if anyone has a better way, please let me know.

Respect Max

Dear @Xyzor_Max,

I have only access to my mobile device :smiley:

In the pictures you can see that I have formatted the selectable items, and when selecting in the main table the color comes through.

You can format the color by marking the text and the available options will be displayed.


Thankyou @Jean_Pierre_Traets, I KNEW there had to be a simpler solution.
And my clients can assign and changes colors as they like.


And DUH! I should have twigged that myself!



It looks like @Jean_Pierre_Traets got you squared away, so I’ll just add this for the @Codans, if they ever read this:

What would be incredibly powerful would be the ability to set up color schemes in an account, and then reference them from docs, with the color mapping already registered in the conditional formatting dialogue.

A common color scheme might be called ‘Status color scheme’:
late → bg: red-7, text: white, bold
current → bg: yellow-5, text: orange-10
done → bg: green-3, text: green-10, italic

Conditional formatting could then look like this:
status = late[Status color scheme].late
status = current[Status color scheme].current
status = done[Status color scheme].done

Then we could share common color schemes in the community, create our own custom color schemes for internal use, and most importantly when configuring doc colors, SAVE A TON OF TIME!!

Anyway, that’s probably a little ways off.:grinning:


… the proof of the pudding is the screenshot… so this is how it looks with @Jean_Pierre_Traets suggestion

MUCH better indeed !



AUTOMATED Color Codes For Lookup Tables Using COLOR SCALE Conditional Formats

Simplest way;

  • add the RowID column (column type = Properties → Row ID
  • this yields a unique number for each row you add to the table
  • set the conditional format on this column to ‘COLOR RANGE’ and APPLY TO = All Columns
  • this results in each row getting a unique color AUTOMATICALLY
  • but deleting rows will result in gaps in the number sequence which eventually degrades the color range
  • so only use this if you dont expect lots of deletions and insertions over time

Better way;

  • add a numeric column with the formula: Find(Item, Table.Item)
  • this also generates a sequence number for each record
  • then set the conditional format on that numeric column to ‘COLOR RANGE’ and APPLY TO = All Columns
  • this method always numbers each row correctly, even if you delete and insert lots of times

These colors then get copied over to any LOOKUPs you use (and kanban boards etc)
Experiments · COLORS 10_08_2021 16_42_19

Thanks to the Codians who added the color range formatting feature - its great!

Max Xyzor