What’s new?

GT portalBase has a new name, agileBase. The working title ‘GT portalBase’ was overdue for replacement and the new name simply reflects the nature and purpose of the product, an agile development platform – development with agileBase allowing back office software to be

  • just in time (that is, this week and $ rather than next year and $$$$$)
  • just enough (rather than being swamped by bloatware and complex user interfaces)
  • just for us (customisable to business needs and processes)

Log in at (the old domain will continue  to work as well)

What else?

Today’s release of version 2.5 also adds the ability to create as many summary charts as you like per view – more details in the docs

And coming up

We’re not just changing things on the surface, there are exciting things in the roadmap for the near future. The next development will be a custom addon that adds an executive dashboard covering the entire set of modules in your organisation’s setup, to give a ‘helicopter view’ of all the data as well as automatically highlighting likely exceptions and recent changes. More news on this blog soon…

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

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

iPhone and Google phone version


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

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

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 –



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 

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.


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

>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

!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


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


Try your own! If you find any that don’t give the results you expect, please contact

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

Tag clouds from content in portalBase 2.1

Recently some work with a UK Sector Skills Council has involved investigating tag clouds for visualising database content.

We thought what better way to test out some ideas than to rapidly prototype the database structure with portalBase and plug in a facility for visualising a cloud of words from data in it? We quickly did this and found some useful results, but it also turns out that tag clouds are a great way of summarising lots of different types of data, so the facility is now generally available, tweaked and honed in GTpB version 2.1!

To see a tag cloud of your own data, simply go to the summary tab of any report. The cloud automatically appears as part of the summary and will change as you filter data. It’s really useful for bringing new people up to speed with systems as it gives a quick overview of what the data’s all about.

Here are some examples –

A cloud from our own projects database:


Words from the issue log for a web application software development:


One of the reports from a food sales invoicing system:


Multi-browser compatible!

GT portalBase is now compatible with Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer with the release of version 2.0!


In other news, field names and descriptions can be edited by clicking on them in the ‘fields’ tab of a table. Along with the  drag and drop field re-ordering from the previous release, this makes schema editing truly agile.

Version 1.9.9 deals with large data sets

This release addresses a number of items to improve input and output of large amounts of data, both from the schema design and end user points of view

Image:Import.png Importing 

  • Metadata: fields such as creator and creation date are set for every imported record
  • Bugfixes to the import routine – portalBase should deal with Excel-generated CSV files better, with errors less common
Image:Fields.png Fields 

  • Fields can be re-ordered very quickly now, just by by dragging them, in the ‘fields’ tab of pane 3. This vastly speeds up modifications to large tables
  • Separators can be added between fields to section off different parts of an input form, e.g. to clarify stages in a process
Image:Print.png  Document generation 

  • The print facility now has the ability to include full detail for every record printed in the currently selected report, one record per page. This allows easy generation of e.g. detailed specification documents from data in portalBase

Other improvements

In this and recent minor releases, a number of other improvements and bugfixes have been included

  • Field sorting is improved with visual feedback
  • Usage statistics: administrators can easily see on a per-report or per-table basis who’s using each module. De-cluttering obsolete reports is easier
  • Report generation is a lot quicker – fields and joins are automatically added to a report on creation
  • Addresses: geographical location is displayed next to phone numbers. Addresses are auto-recognised and labelled with map icons
  • The ‘link’ button now works more simply, launching an email with a link to the current portalBase record