About Bort

Bort is a web application for website bookmarks and search – a web page interface to browse and manage your bookmarks and to search the web via custom search engines. Bort is intended for daily web browsing and suitable for use as your browser home page and/or default new tab page. It's also useful when using a public computer or borrowing someone else's computer, where you cannot or don't want to permanently store bookmarks.

Bort saves your bookmarks as a file in your Dropbox. Via Dropbox those same bookmarks are accessible wherever on any device and any browser you want to use. Bookmarks are automatically periodically synced and any changes made on one device will show up on other devices. Since Dropbox is used for storage, Bort does not have user accounts of its own, you just log in with your Dropbox account.

Bort is designed, written, maintained and operated by Osmo Salomaa. Bort has been around since October 2015.

Is it like Pocket?

No. Bort is not specifically designed for read-later and does not allow storing pages for offline use. Bort can be used though, to bookmark pages to read later – just add a bookmark and tag it as e.g. “to-read”. Some read-later features might be added in the future, but not to Pocket's extent.

Is it like Delicious or Pinboard?

No. Bort is not UI and technology-wise designed to handle a huge archive of rarely accessed links, but rather a moderate amount of frequently accessed ones. Bort also has no social or sharing features. While such might be added in the future, sharing would be an explicit action, not on by default.

Is it like browser bookmarks?

Yes, sort of. Bort can best be seen as a replacement for browser bookmarks, providing a better user interface and a sync mechanism that is independent of which operating system, browser etc. you use.

FAQ

Search bookmarks are URLs that are evaluated based on a search query and sent to an external search engine. The URL should contain %s in place of the query – e.g. if you type “donuts” in the search field and have a bookmark https://www.google.com/search?q=%s tagged with “search”, the link will point to https://www.google.com/search?q=donuts. Any search bookmarks you mark as favorites are presented whenever your search query does not match any of your normal bookmarks. All search bookmarks are presented if you add a question mark (?) to the query.

Why are some icons either missing or wrong?

The most common reason for missing icons is that websites don't provide them – either at all, or in a sufficiently large size. Sometimes there are also errors detecting website icons, for a multitude of reasons.

Bort uses an external service to load icons and, for privacy reasons, sends only the host and domain part of bookmark URLs when querying for icons – thus e.g. a bookmark pointing to https://www.google.com/maps/... will load an icon for www.google.com. In cases where the icon is wrong or missing, you can have individual bookmarks load their icon from a different source – see the next question for details.

How do I use a custom icon for a bookmark?

In the Add and Edit bookmark dialogs, you can choose to use a custom icon for the bookmark. Several types and sources of icons are supported – you can use the following values in the custom icon field.

http://... Use the icon of another web page, or if the URL points to an image file, use that image instead of the website icon.
facebook:xxx Use the Facebook profile image of user xxx.
favicon Use the 16x16 pixel favicon for the bookmark URL. Usually these don't scale nicely to the size Bort uses to display icons, but there are exceptions.
favicon:http://... Like the previous, but use the 16x16 pixel favicon of the given URL instead of the bookmark URL.
image:http://... Use the image file at the given URL. You only need to specify the image: prefix if the URL, despite pointing to an image, doesn't end in a common image filename extension.
twitter:xxx Use the Twitter profile image of user xxx.
x Use a letter icon for the letter x.

If you have the icon you want to use as a file on your own computer, you can upload it to an image host, e.g. Postimage.org, and copy the direct URL to the image.

Are my bookmarks private?

Yes. Your bookmarks are saved in two places: your own browser's local database on hard drives of devices you use Bort on and in your own Dropbox. Your browser's local database is cleared when you log out. In your Dropbox, Bort only has access to its own folder Apps/Bort and cannot see or access any other files you may have. Your data is not saved anywhere outside these two locations under your own control. Bookmark sync happens via a secure connection between your browser and Dropbox's servers. The Bort website does not have any database of its own and your bookmarks are never transmitted there. Your usage is not recorded. No data is sold to advertisers or other third parties. Nothing is social, nothing is shared.

On Bort's side, yes. Normal searches done through search bookmarks merely evaluate URLs in JavaScript code run by your browser. Those search queries are not transmitted or saved anywhere. If you use Bort's search suggestion feature (off by default, can be enabled in the preferences dialog), then those suggestions are anonymously queried from Bort's own caching proxy server, which in turn requests them from the service provider. This proxy server does not handle any user accounts and does not save or log any data, except temporary caching for performance reasons. Once you actually execute your search, you are redirected to the search provider's website and subject to their privacy conventions.

How do I get my bookmarks out?

If you want to migrate your bookmarks to another service or application, just click the Export-link in the footer of the main page. You should get your bookmarks out as a Netscape HTML format bookmark file, which is fairly standard and supported by most services and applications that deal with bookmarks. Alternatively, you can find Bort's own JSON format bookmark file in your Dropbox, file Apps/Bort/bookmarks.json. For most people this is not a useful format, but e.g. programmers of other services can easily write code to parse bookmarks from it.

Which technologies does Bort use?

The Bort application itself is written entirely as client-side JavaScript – there is no server to execute code or operate databases, only one to serve static pages, leaving everything to happen in the browser. Saving bookmarks to browser's local database is done using PouchDB, which typically uses either IndexedDB or WebSQL depending on your browser. The Dropbox HTTP API is used to sync bookmarks.

Separate from bookmarking, Bort has a custom caching proxy server to relay non-essential resources – currently website icons and search suggestions. It is needed in order to get around cross-origin limitations of browsers and to deliver resources for Bort's particular use case, e.g. icons as 48x48 PNG images with proper caching. Bort Proxy is open source, written in Python using Flask with a non-persistent Redis database for caching.

Which browsers are supported?

Bort requires modern browser features to work, in particular, for the local bookmark database, either IndexedDB or WebSQL.

Chrome Supported since at least version 39
Firefox Supported since at least version 38
Safari Supported since at least version 8
Opera Supported since at least version 31
Internet Explorer Not supported
Edge Untested, unlikely to work

Contact

Have a question or a suggestion? Found a bug? Join the chat or send email.

Changes

2017-04-11 Add sync frequency to the preferences dialog.
2017-03-05 Migrate Firefox extension from Jetpack to WebExtension for compatibility with future versions of Firefox. No changes in functionality.
2017-03-05 PouchDB updated to version 6.
2016-11-07 Use rel="noreferrer" for bookmark and search links to avoid sending referrer information to the destination website.
2016-10-16 Add support for Google search suggestions. This is off by default, can be enabled in the preferences dialog.
2016-10-05 Icon server rewritten for better speed, better caching and more icon sources. General support for low resolution icons removed. Added support for custom icons from Twitter and Facebook profile images. See the above FAQ for details.
2016-09-19 Use dynamic URLs with selected tags (?tags=...), so that the browser back button works as expected in all browsers.
2016-09-19 Allow ampersands in tags.