The Washington Times reviews Filemaker’s Bento: ‘Simple, uncomplicated and really, really useful’

Personal database that organizes your busy life“Long ago and far away — about 1982 or 1983 — there was a database called Nutshell which used the simple metaphor of index cards to let you store and use information. I remember Nutshell fondly even if it and the MS-DOS platform that supported it are only fit for computer museums,” Mark Kellner reports for The Washington Times.

“A Macintosh version of Nutshell evolved into the successful software program FileMaker, which I think is one of the better database programs around, available for both Macs and Windows-based PCs. However, the sheer force of power that today’s FileMaker Pro represents may be too much for some users who — like those long ago Nutshell fans — want to keep it simple,” Kellner reports.

“What goes around in computing may indeed come around: Not long ago, FileMaker Inc., the Apple software unit that publishes the eponymous database, released what could be called the 21st-century version of Nutshell, only this time for Macs running the latest OS X version and with some very spiffy graphics. Called Bento, the $49.95 program harkens back to what software once was: simple, uncomplicated and really, really useful,” Kellner reports.

Full review here.


  1. I’ve been using Bento to cram my contacts into some sort of useful pile. Guess I’m a retard cuz I keep screwing the lists up with the libraries and the forms and collections and fields blah blah blah. Still, I kinda like it. Even though you can’t do a mail merge with it.

  2. I could not find the answer to this question on their website. Maybe one of you know the answer.

    Can you share your data with another user on a different computer on a local network?

    If this is a stupid question, I apologize and may be you can provide me a link to the answer.

  3. No.
    It is for single users, not for sharing data at all. You can with FM.

    Actually, I’ve yet to read of anyone doing anything remotely worth $50 worth of work on Bento. I found the trial a waste of time.

    Imagine reviewers testing a new bicycle: “You can raise and lower the seat and it has brakes, one for each wheel. Also, you can turn the front wheel either to the left or to the right to take you in the direction you want to go…” but they never ride it anywhere!!!

    THAT’S Bento. I could customize this and that, but I couldn’t find any reason whatsoever to spend $50. You can’t mail-merge, you can’t fully sync with Mail or Address Book iCal… on and on.


  4. Can’t fully sync with Mail. Well, duh! It’s NOT an email program.
    Can’t fully sync with Address Book or iCal? WTF??
    When I make changes in Bento, the change instantly appears in Address Book or iCal…
    Of course, Bento has tons of configurable fields that don’t apply to Address Book or iCal. Those don’t affect anything but Bento, of course.
    I use it every day. It’s an amazing program and, news flash, this is version 1.0.
    Filemaker will improve it. They have a winner on their hands…

    Also, MDN, please fix your Widget – the link is misspelled. Broken.
    You have –
    the_ >>>>>> washinton <<<<< _times_reviews_filemakers_bento_simple_uncomplicated_useful/

    Link should be:

  5. It’s not a database. No query function, can’t export the contents of smart lists etc. etc. There’s a gaping hole for a product to fill the forms/database functions of Excel and the data merge functions of Word and this doesn’t even come close. OK for keeping lists but you can do that better in Numbers.

  6. @hangonaminute

    Uh, what part of SIMPLE, UNCOMPLICATED did you miss?

    It’s REALLY REALLY USEFUL, too. Too bad for you it doesn’t do really really complicated things.

    I mean, too bad for you this fuel-efficient small car can’t climb up a mountain trail loaded with a family of 8 and all their gear…

  7. Bento isn’t supposed to be a full fledged db. That’s what FM is for. Bento is a data organizing tool with some relational data functionality to make it easy to find info. It’s easily customized and is user friendly, unlike FM which is more “tool” than I need at this point.

    I’m a small business consultant and can’t afford the time it would take to master the FM learning curve. Wish I could, cuz I know FM is well regarded. For now, Bento is very useful, though certainly has room for improvement. Bento’s forums are very good, and they have been quick to respond to the fact that users want a mail merge feature. It will be added in the future I’m sure. As for Numbers, that’s a spreadsheet app. Bento is not for crunching numbers, but it will import Excel data.

  8. Bento needs a multi-user version. Now Contact/Up-to-Date still has not been upgraded to Nighthawk. Mac users need an powerful contact manager and scheduler that integrates with the rest of the Mac experience. It is one of the few major must-haves that we do not have yet.

  9. Mark Kellner reports for The Washington Times, “A Macintosh version of Nutshell evolved into the successful software program FileMaker …”

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t FileMaker a descendent of AppleWorks/ AppleWorks GS for the Apple ][ line?

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