I love databases and wish there was a database option in Apple’s iWork. Instead, Apple let FileMaker have their way with us and the result is Bento, billed as the personal database. It is. Bento is not the database for the masses.
These days, databases are complex beasts; either free and very complex such as MySQL, or less complex but expensive such as FileMaker Pro (owned by Apple).
They claim that Bento is as easy to use as your Mac, which is relatively accurate. Your Mac has databases all over the place already. iCal, Address Book, etc.
Bento brings your important information together in one place to help you get organized. So you can manage your contacts, coordinate events, track projects, prioritize tasks, and more – faster and easier than ever before.
Bento does all that and is far easier than buying FileMaker Pro and trying to build the pieces yourself. To a point.
Pastel Motif Data
Bento looks friendly, but despite the attractive pastel color schemes throughout, gets complicated quickly, as is the case with most database applications.
The left column is your data libraries, and each library contains different sets of data. Bento’s ease-of-use arrives via 20-plus templates, for customer information, projects, home inventory, and more. The right column are the fields of data.
Getting started with Bento is easy. Select a template that matches your data storage requirements and import or enter the data you need. You can customize the Bento templates, too.
Databases are designed to receive data, store data, report data. Bento’s templates make it easy to enter data, view data, sort data, print reports. It’s easy to use. Except…
Customizing Bento goes well beyond the average Mac user’s experience with iCal and Address Book. In fact, Bento automatically creates databases using your stored data in iCal and Address Book.
What you change in Bento also changes iCal and Address Book.
Simple to Complex
As a personal database, Bento makes the grade. It’s easy to set up, easy to import data, easy to enter data, easy to view data.
Got a need for customizing a database beyond the templates provided by Bento? Fine, but the complexity just went up by an order of magnitude. Compare the clickable images above for simplicity vs. the image below for complexity.
Bento is nice as a personal database for Mac users, not a multi-user, shared database, and not bad even for the $49 price tag. As soon as you go beyond the included templates you’re into free range customization, and might be better served by using FileMaker Pro.