Like many areas of study with reams of background knowledge, one of the challenges of learning about engineering is the sheer number of books required. And we’re not just talking about small paperbacks telling straightforward linear stories, but massive volumes of technical data where the chapters are often referenced out of order based on the research subject of the day. Even when you eventually identify what you’re looking for, it’s really easy to forget where you found it or have a tough time explaining to others how to compile the same information. So when you find a particularly useful page in the deep sea of options, nothing beats a good bookmark.
Bookmarks are super handy in portfolio research as well. Spend enough time searching for the perfect combination of assets to meet your needs, and you’re bound to eventually find one that piques your interest. Rather than diligently documenting and re-entering multi-asset portfolios by hand, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to save and share ideas as easily as referencing a bookmarked page?
That’s a question I’ve been thinking about for years, and I’m excited to announce that I finally have a working solution. It’s not a traditional bookmark in the physical or website sense, but in a way it’s even more flexible. Portfolio Charts now features portfolio shortcodes!
When you visit any of the many charting tools on the site, you’ll notice a new box on the bottom-right of the interface.
The shortcode section incudes two fields. The first labeled “copy” displays a unique series of letters and numbers that updates in real time and fully describes the portfolio you’ve entered. If you highlight and copy that white block (Ctrl+C on a PC, Command+C on a Mac), you can paste the contents anywhere you like for safe keeping. For example, the shortcode for the All Seasons portfolio in the USA looks like this:
That goofy string of characters may not make a lot of sense on its own, but think of it as your pass to skip the normal data entry process the next time around. To quickly fill out the full asset allocation for a desired portfolio, just navigate to your favorite chart, double-click the “paste” field, and paste the shortcode you saved earlier (Ctrl+V on a PC, Command+V on a Mac). The calculator will take it from there, formatting the portfolio settings exactly as you entered them the first time. It’s really that easy!
There’s no better way to learn than to try it yourself, so let’s give the new feature a spin. Below is a live version of the Equalizer chart that you can modify. I suggest the following brief exercise:
NOTE: The shortcodes now work a little differently than when this was first written so the below steps may not make sense. Read this for a better explanation of the new functionality.
- Enter your favorite portfolio just like normal by adjusting the percentages.
- Highlight the white shortcode “copy” box and copy the contents.
- Refresh your browser, which will reload the chart with the original settings.
- Now double click the black “paste” box, paste your shortcode*, and press enter. Voila!
- Type a “0” into the paste box. That will revert everything to the previous settings.
- Finally, see what happens when you use the aforementioned All Seasons code.
(*) If you see extra digits or spaces as you paste the shortcode, don’t worry about it. The tools are smart enough to work around them.
Pretty cool, right?
I’m really excited about this new feature for several reasons.
Not only does the shortcode work on the page where it was generated, but the same code also works in any tool in the site (except for the Portfolio Finder, which operates on its own unique logic). So only one shortcode is needed to display the same portfolio everywhere, allowing you to quickly and easily reference multiple tools with minimum data entry.
I also like that there are no logins required to save portfolios. That’s great not only for your privacy but also for my meager database skills, and it lets us both focus on interesting asset allocations rather than personal data management.
But above all, I’m just happy to finally be able to quickly share custom portfolios with other investors. It may not be as easy as offering a single link, but a link plus a shortcode is still way easier than saving individual images or explaining a full long-form asset allocation and a new tool at the same time. So my greatest hope is that it will not only help you save your own portfolio ideas but also make it easier to spread them far and wide.
In that spirit of group communication, let’s keep this overview short and skip to the fun part. Visit the Charts, play with the shortcodes, and think about how you might use them to document and share helpful investing concepts. As the title says, your favorite portfolio is just a few easy clicks away. So get out there and start spreading the word!
While you’re exploring the new shortcode system, long-time users of Portfolio Charts may also notice a few small additional changes:
- The country abbreviations have been updated to ISO 3-letter standards. They’re all there, but a few like Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are just labeled a little differently.
- The WLD and home country input settings on the interface moved a little, but they work exactly the same as before.
- Asset percentages are now limited to whole numbers with no decimals. When that differs from specific portfolio recommendations, I did my best to interpret them while preserving the original design intent. But the small fractions of a percent could have very minor effects on the resulting numbers from what you saw before.
And even though the new shortcode feature may look simple on the surface, it took a huge amount of experimentation to get right. Changes like this may have a few unexpected side effects, so if you see something that looks like a bug please let me know. I always appreciate your input!
Do the new shortcodes make studying portfolios even easier?