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in architecture, an opening, usually an entrance into a building. Typical ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek portals were simply ornamented and had level crosspieces. In ancient Mesopotamia portals were arched, and in the Near and Middle East peshtak portals were typical; these were rectangular and had a cut-out lancet arch. Beginning in the 11th century arched, or perspective, portals became widespread in romanesque, gothic, and ancient Russian architecture. These portals were projections whose corners had columns joined by archivolts. Renaissance and baroque portals usually had pilasters and columns that supported the entablature or frontal.
["PORTAL - A Pascal-based Real-Time Programming Language", R. Schild in Algorithmic Languages, J.W. deBakker et al eds, N-H 1981].
portalA Web "supersite" that provides a variety of services including Web search, news, blogs, discussion groups, shopping and links to other sites. The major general-purpose portals are Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL, all of which offer free Web-based e-mail accounts. TV networks and newspapers provide general-purpose portals, but not e-mail. Many portals allow the home page to be personalized (see personal portal). Prior to the Web, CompuServe and AOL functioned as portals, aggregating information from various sources.
Portals also serve vertical markets. Trade magazines, associations and special interest groups host vertical portals (vortals) and provide news and articles for their industry such as IT, banking and insurance. The vortal may also include general information such as top news stories and weather; however, their search capabilities are often limited to their own archives, rather than the entire Web. See corporate portal, business intelligence portal and portal server.