Martin MC Brown

Filemaker's Bento database is the DB for the iTunes generation

By Martin MC Brown
January 08, 2008 2:20 PM EST
Filemaker have announced that their Bento database is now public after a short beta period. I was a beta tester for the Filemaker product before it was even announced, and I've been a firm supporter and user ever since. The DB has grown over the years with better sharing, web interfaces and connectivity to other solutions over ODBC. Although it can be used simply it's also fair to say that it's a very grown-up database solution and that scares some people from using it. I tried out Bento during the beta and I must say that I was impressed. Although it may seem like an unfair connection, it feels very much like Filemaker for the iTunes generation. The interface uses some familiar notation and the overall impression is of something very slick. There are also some nice touches - the search button, just like the one in iTunes, searches all fields, and changes the display to show the search results over the 'browse' interface. Bento also imports and works with some existing native data automatically, albeit through the Bento interface. This means your Address Book and iCal data can be viewed as a database. This is not only convenient (the format is actually much nicer during a print out that the native style), it also shows how easy it is to create a database that not only efficiently stores your data but also looks nice. One other final nod to iTunes is that all your databases are available simultaneously (like play lists), so you can slip very quickly between databases just by selecting them from the tray on the left. The whole packages makes for an excellent little lightweight database environment perfect for those home projects where Filemaker, although originally a simple DB solution is now probably overkill.