“See” your organisation – release 2.3

Organisations invariably seek to improve their understanding of how they work and how effective past investment strategies have been.

In service industries staffing costs are often an organisation’s biggest outgoings. Managers need simple quick ways to understand where this resource is  focussed.

IT systems underpin performance. Before deciding whether to commit any further resources, IT managers need an overview of how current systems are being used.

As an agile development platform, portalBase lets you prototype or build new modules, reports and applications at a rapid rate. PortalBase now lets you see what’s functionality is being used within the product, who is using it and how regular this usage is. Equally it lets you see the functionality that has not gained traction.

A new ‘info’ button loads a stunningly simple fullscreen ‘map’ of all the areas of an organisation. Each report or view is a section of the screen – big areas for those that get a lot of use, smaller for those that don’t. Colours give immediate feedback on whether it’s usage is increasing (red = hot) or decreasing (blue = cooling). Hovering over an area shows more stats including the top users.

As one user said, “If I have understood you correctly you monitor the actual use of information? That seems like a very good idea to me as it is one of the ways to find out what information (in the system) actually matters most to the organization. That really helps setting priorities for future development”.

You can try this out yourself from today – just click the info

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Email marketing integration

Spam is a big issue. Most organisations want to build their email lists but this aim has to be balanced against the need to ensure that the right emailshots go to the right people. Given the numerous ways addresses get into the organisation, this can be harder than it appears!
GTpB can now help eMarketeers reduce their workload by automating the management of email lists, mail outs whilst at the same time increasing customer satisfaction by automating unsubscribe requests.
GtpB has always been a really powerful tool for segmenting your contact list and tracking campaigns, now you can  automate links from this data into mailing tools (such as Dada mail)
and remove the need to manually handle “unsubscribe request” emails (to keep the list truly “clean”).
True dedicated mailing software has done much of this for some time, but many organisations are trying to avoid the proliferation of software apps and the problems this causes.
With GTpB your web based back office database can drive the whole thing. One tool, one set of  data.
If you are interested and would like to know more please contact us and ask for Cliff.

Getting more value out of portalBase – e-marketing automation.

Spam is a big issue for e-marketeers. Most organisations want to build their email lists but this aim has to be balanced against the need to ensure that the right emailshots go to the right people. Given the numerous ways addresses get into the organisation, this can be harder than it appears!

GTpB can now help e-marketeers reduce their workload by automating the management of email lists and mail outs whilst at the same time increasing customer satisfaction by automating unsubscribe requests.

GtpB has always been a really powerful tool for segmenting your contact list and tracking campaigns, now you can  automate links from this data into mailing tools (such as Dada mail) – wikipedia:electronic mailing list and remove the need to manually handle “unsubscribe request” emails (to keep the list truly “clean”).

True dedicated mailing software has done much of this for some time, but many organisations are trying to avoid the proliferation of separate databases and the problems this causes.

With GTpB your web based back office database can drive the whole thing. One tool, one set of  data.

This is just one example of integration work we’ve done for a client to help their organisation more efficient. If you are interested and would like to know more please contact either Oliver or Cliff.

Open Source GTpB

On its fourth anniversary, portalBase has been released under a GPL open source license.

portalBase is a web based industrial strength platform for business application development. It’s used to rapidly prototype and develop data entry and reporting applications that work over the internet or a local network.

Our vision was to create a product that allowed business analysts to create lean, agile, Just-In-Time (JIT) back offices.

New headline features

  • iPhone and Google Phone version – Aug 09
  • youTube integration – July 09
  • automated version histories for uploaded documents attached to records – June 09
  • tag cloud generation – Mar 09
  • multi-browser compatibility – Mar 09
  • grouping views and modules into business sections, e.g. Plan/Do/Check/Act, Marketing/Sales/Finance etc. – Nov 08
  • basic API additions including google maps integration and phone number lookups – Aug 08
  • automatic join and full view creation – Feb 08
  • data security and audit features – Jan 08

Underlying features

  • GUI builder
  • create tables
  • create views
  • option to use full SQL snippets for advanced users
  • basic form builder
  • accessible, advanced filtering
  • report summary generation
  • import and export
  • set roles and privileges
  • database refactoring facilities

Technology platform

  • PostgreSQL 8.4
  • Java 5+
  • Hibernate
  • Tomcat

Source code is available at http://github.com/okohll/GT-portalBase/

Have a go of a basic demo at www.gtportalbase.com, with the username and password ‘demo’. If you’d like to find out about any functionality in greater depth, email oliver@gtportalbase.com, skype okohll or please pass on these details to your IT department if applicable.

iPhone and Google phone version

iPhone_reports_list

We’ve polished the mobile version of portalBase – to try it out head straight to

www.gtportalbase.com/mobile

You can view reports, summaries and records. Editing may come in a future version, depending on whether users feel this would be useful functionality or not.

Tip: If you use portalBase to store all of your company contacts, as we do and the phone to store just those you’re in touch with regularly, there’s an easy way to transfer a new number or email address to your phone contacts list – instead of tapping it, hold your finger down over the it and some options will pop up letting you save to an existing or new contact. This works with both the iPhone and Google phone.

A set of screenshots and documentation can be seen on our wiki at

http://www.gtwebmarque.com/wikis/gtwm/index.php/Mobile_documentation

Coming soon

Watch out for a couple of nifty new features currently on the development site and to be released soon

  • Current record always visible: pane 2 will now include the current record being edited, even if it isn’t in the report due to a filter. This is a fundamental change – rather than pane 2 being ‘report rows’ it will now be ‘report rows plus current record’. This should greatly aid usability, reduce accidental editing of the wrong record and stop new records becoming ‘lost’.
  • Summarise by dates: in the report summary screen, you’ll be easily able to sum, count, average etc. by the year, quarter, month or day component of any date field.

Document version histories in 2.2.7

Document version control is now available automatically to all files uploaded to portalBase. Whenever a new file is uploaded into a particular record, the file that was there (if any) is archived. Archived files are available to view and download in the ‘view’ tab. The edit tab only shows the current file, as archived files can’t be further modified.

Along with the filename, you can see the upload date of each version of the file. For example –

version-control

Interoperability

All modern software needs to be able to act on shared data with third party applications. This is especially true in the situations in which portalBase is commonly used, for example where it is a rapid development environment for creating applications to supplement legacy or hard-to-alter core software. You rarely get full value out of data if it’s in a ‘silo’ that no one else can access (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_silo). 

Some examples of interoperability are

  • allowing an e-commerce site to be updated with stock availability and prices from from a central stock control / ERP system
  • allowing desktop publishing software access to the marketing dept.’s image/document resource library
  • Electronic Data Interchance (EDI) – allow large amounts of orders to be processed automatically in a supply chain

Today’s release of portalBase 2.2.4 adds more options to make interoperability easier. You’ve always been able to import data from third party systems, via spreadsheet and also to export in the same way. However, you can now update existing data using a new enhanced import process. This allows a round-trip of export/modify/import or regular updates from external sources, e.g. updating of product prices in an invoicing system or contact details in a CRM system.

Here’s the first step of the new import wizard.

import_wizard

Remember, for completely automated data transfer, clients can also request direct database access from other software to their underlying portalBase database with an industry standard interface (ODBC / JDBC to postgreSQL, for technical readers)

Other improvements in this release

  • Calculations have been improved – users can now create one calculation that references another
  • Error messages have been made clearer both for calculation creation and the import process
  • the iPhone version of portalBase is stable – more news about this shortly!

Learn how to filter

The ability to filter data is one of the things that makes portalBase really powerful. Searching and filtering is quite easy but many users tend to stick with basic filters. This release of version 2.2 adds some more options so now’s a good time to write a quick tutorial by example. For those who want to learn, it couldn’t be simpler, read on!

Basic filtering

To find text starting with a word or letters, just type. e.g. is searching an address book:

Type john to find John Smith, John Jones and John Barleycorn

Note filtering is case insensitive

To find text anywhere in a field, use the star character as a ‘wildcard’:

Type *smith to find John Smith, Jane Smith and Tobermory Smith

Some more options

help1If you forget these options, don’t worry they’re in the help built into portalBase. Move your mouse over the question mark at the left of the filter boxes to get a quick reminder.

All of the syntax below works any type of data, be it text, numeric or date. Some examples for numbers:

>400 returns all those greater than or equal to 400

< 600 returns all those less than 600

New:
>400 and <600 returns all those in the range

In a text field, e.g. a list of company names,

*Ltd or *Limited will return all limited companies

!google will return all companies that are NOT Google, or at least don’t start with the word Google

New:
!google and !yahoo will return everything except those two companies

? will return all blank entries, i.e. where the company name isn’t filled in at all

Conversly, !? (‘not blank’) will return all those that are

New: dates and times

Date filtering is a new addition that deserves a special mention because you can filter in lots of ways. Here are just a few examples:

today will find any times that are sometime today

next week any date falling in the next week

two months ago

2009

Jan 5th 2010

<ten years ago anything more than ten years old

>today anything in the future

>01 Jan 2009 and <31 March 2009 dates in the first quarter

*Jan dates in January from any year – useful for comparing year on year

etc.

Try your own! If you find any that don’t give the results you expect, please contact oliver@gtportalbase.com

Credits: this work is partly based on the Ruby Chronic library and the Java port by  mDimension Technology