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    Copyright 2013 Christopher D. Whittum, M.Ed.

    PortaBase -Database for Handhelds and PCs

    PortaBase logo,portabasePortaBase is an open source application that makes database design and management easy.  It was initially designed for the Maemo operating system (which runs on SmartPhones and tablets), but it runs just fine on desktop PCs.  I was drawn to PortaBase predominantly because its ease-of-use reminds me of FileMaker Pro, one of the easiest database applications to use.

    Simple Interface

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    Database creation in PortaBase

    The first aspect of PortaBase that I’d like to address is its interface.  It’s simple, yet in its simplicity lies genius.  A menu and toolbar at the top of the window provide all of the features needed to create and manage a non-relational (single table) database, which is fine for most users.  By default, a newly created database looks similar to a spreadsheet.   Clicking on the headings will sort the table according to that category.

    Straightforward Database Creation

    Creating a database is easy.  Upon start, users are prompted to do that or to open an existing database.  Next, a window will open in which users can create their database by naming and assigning a data type to each field (referred to as Columns when in database view).  Available field types include String, Integer, Decimal, Boolean, Note (multi-line text), Date, Time, Calculation, Sequence, Image, and Enum (used to define user-defined data types).  .Additionally, in terms of security, users are given the option to encrypt a new database when it is created.P ortaBase can import files from SV, XML, and MobileDB formats and export to CSV, HTML and XML.

    Just Jump in and Start Adding Records

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    Available data types in PortaBase.

    When the database has been set up, the user needs to click the Add Row button.  As each record is added, it will appear in the database table as a Row.  In PortaBase, a Row constitutes one item listed in the database table.   Once there is at least one Row available, it can be clicked on to open the Row Viewer window, presenting all data in that row in a single window.  If you’ve added an image Column and have added an image to each Row, this is what must be done to view the image.  This window can be easily quickly to return to the main screen.  Finally, querying the database is made easy through Quick Filter.  Simply click on the desired Column and set the criteria for the search (e.g. Column: “First Name”, Search criteria: “Juan”). Databases can even be printed without the need to generate a report, as is often required in more complex applications of this type.  Another great feature is the integrated calendar for adding dates.  Users can use navigation arrows to find a desired date.

    Everyday Use

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    The PortaBase Row Viewer

    What kinds of things can be done with PortaBase?   PortaBase has a number of potential uses in the classroom.  It’s ideal as a means to track media, such as books in a classroom library.  Next, reference charts can be created easily for classroom handouts.  Furthermore, It’s ideal for creating to-do lists, which could be modified into a student job chart.  Finally, lists of needed supplies and materials for class projects can also be easily created.  PortaBase is also a great way to introduce learners to databases.

    I can’t guarantee that PortaBase will resolve all your classroom problems.  It can, however, be used to streamline your classroom and students’ learning experiences.  Take a look.  Give it a try.   You may be pleasantly surprised, like I was.


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