MacUser reviews FileMaker’s Bento: Exemplary Mac OS X Leopard data organizer

“Despite the gap left by AppleWorks, neither iWork nor Office provides a database component. FileMaker has recognised that its own database is overkill for home users and some small businesses, so Bento aims to let anyone organise data in a simple, effective manner,” Alan Stonebridge reports for MacUser.

“Bento fits comfortably with applications like iTunes and iPhoto by virtue of its similar layout. The left column shows data sources, the centre shows records, while the right chooses which fields are shown in the centre and is where fields are defined,” Stonebridge reports.

Stonebridge reports, “Data types can be simple, like text and numbers; or more complex, like calculations, file lists and abstract address fields that encompass all parts of an address. Many data types have presentational and behavioural settings, governing formatting of currencies and an autocomplete behaviour for text. Whatever Bento is asked to store, thought has gone into ensuring the user isn’t left frustrated by an unintuitive application.”

Stonebridge reports, “For the market it’s aimed at, Bento is an exemplary product. Much of this stems from the re-use of familiar concepts from Mac OS X and other Apple applications. A few minor issues leave room for improvement but overall Bento makes a good debut and at such a low price that only a die-hard open source advocate can grumble about.”

Full review here.

FileMaker’s Bento retails for US $49 or $99 for a family pack. Bento is designed to run exclusively on Mac OS X v.10.5 Leopard.

More info and download link for the free Bento preview here.

FileMaker, Inc. develops award-winning database software. Its products include the FileMaker Pro product line for Windows, Mac and the Web, and the new Bento personal database for Mac. Millions of customers, from individuals to large organizations, rely on FileMaker, Inc. software to manage, analyze and share information. FileMaker, Inc. is a subsidiary of Apple Inc.


  1. I played with Bento in its beta state and found it to be an excellent basic database. I especially like the looks of Bento.

    Hopefully, Filemaker, Inc. will borrow some of the concepts they put into Bento and apply them to their big-boy database, Filemaker. Filemaker is a great relational database. But, while you can customize it to do all kinds of wonderful things, you can’t make it look good on a Mac.

  2. “FileMaker Jr.” has been needed since iWork came out and it looks like Bento will do the job rather well – even if it is a separate app.

    One key issue will be the ability to download and use files on iPods and the iPhone/touch platform – that is where a huge market will develop. Since both the iPhone SDK and Bento’s market EIS are both in February there is hope.

  3. @Botvinnik, Numbers is a spreadsheet, not a database program. I’m always preaching to people that they should not be using a spreadsheet for db work. Like others, I hope Apple will add a good DB (FileMaker) component to iLife. Perhaps they port Bento as part of that.

  4. I’m using the Bento preview to catalog all of my Video and Audio Projects and their associated assets. It’s been a rock with even with almost 1.5TB of managed data to handle. FileMaker was quick to fix the few minor issues I did have. I’m looking forward to the release.

  5. 84 Mac Guy…

    Don’t blame FileMaker. It’s YOUR job is to make a Filemaker database look good. ;^)

    I played with it a bit, obviously not enough to be able to rave about it like some do. It would be a nice addition to iWork, though. I use Filemaker Pro, but a simpler app would be welcome by many.

    I DO hope FileMaker builds in the ability to import AppleWorks and some simpler FileMaker Pro database files.

    One of the GREAT disappointments of iWork/Pages is that it can’t import ANY AppleWorks files that contain graphics or spreadsheet objects.

    Pages is very nice to work with compared to AW, but it’s a real killer for me, since I’ve got years and years worth of AW business files with my logo/letterhead and little spreadsheets embedded and no way to move them forward to iWork, or any other app for that matter! When AppleWorks finally STOPS working, someday it will, then I’ll be screwed unless Apple does the right thing. Pages desperately needs a Batch Convert command and FULL AppleWorks import ability!

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