CIS • Portfolio ABC’s


These help pages are intended to help you learn the basic skills needed to use Portfolio in the classroom: opening the application, connecting to a database, viewing data and images, and searching for items. If you need help with more advanced topics you can visit the (slightly out-dated) advanced pages or seek assistance from Fred Lifton, the database’s administrator (, 503-777-7297). CUS can also help you with basic issues.

You can download a .pdf of these pages to print out for future reference.

What is Portfolio?

Portfolio belongs to a class of software known as Digital Asset Managers (DAM). DAM software (feel free to call it that) organizes, keeps track of, doles out access to and stores information about digital files such as images, sounds, video and so on. If we imagine our digital image collection as a collection of books, Portfolio is the shelving, sorting, circulation and filing system.

Like a card catalog, Portfolio maintains information about its collection which is called metadata (because it’s data about the data—i.e. the images—in the collection). Examples of metadata include the artist's name, the medium of a work or its dimensions. Just as a card catalog can't be used to edit the books it records, Portfolio does not let you make any modifications to an image. It can only show you the image and its accompanying metadata.

Taken together, the image and its associated metadata are called a “record,” while each individual piece of metadata is entered into a “field.” A collection of records and their accompanying fields full of metadata comprise a “database.” Portfolio calls each such a database a “catalog.”

Reed's image databases are all stored centrally on a server called “Media.” This server also functions as the repository for the digital images and other assets cataloged in the databases. You can also use Portfolio to create your own personal catalog which stays on your computer. In such cases, no network connection is needed to use Portfolio.

Note: Please help us maintain the database by reporting any problems with images or data (e.g., errors, rotated images, etc.). When you find a problem, send the accession number ( i.e., the filename) to Fred Lifton.