Bento 2 review

Less than a year ago, FileMaker gave us an amazingly-easy-to-use personal database manager called Bento. Just when we thought that there was no easier way to manage personal data, we came across a new application that makes it even easier – Bento 2.

Even though the product is released by the developers of FileMaker, that’s where the association ends. Bento 2 fills the need for creating and managing personal, standalone databases, without requiring any knowledge of programming, table relationships, or a certificate as a Database Administrator. In fact, if you can use iTunes then you’ll have no problem with Bento 2. Ease of use, while embracing the features of OS X, is the primary goal.

Once Bento 2 is installed, the option for utilising your OS X Address Book, iCal Tasks, and Events is provided. These databases are incorporated as Libraries in the Bento 2 environment. New Libraries can be created from the wealth of included templates (Vehicle Maintenance, Contacts, Exercise Log, Issue Tracking, etc), or you can create a custom Library from scratch. Got a great custom Library for tracking your chess club games? You can share your Library template (layouts without your personal data) by exporting the template and sharing it with other Bento 2 users around the world via an online Bento Template Exchange. Importing and exporting of data (that used to be limited to the CSV format) has also become easier with direct support for iWork Numbers and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. For special groupings of data within your Library, you can create Collections by selecting the records that fit the desired criteria and assigning them to the new collection.

Creating and editing forms can now be done directly in the layout without using a Customize Mode. Fields can be dragged from a table field list directly onto the layout. Existing fields on the layout can be edited by selecting the field label. Resizing controls automatically appear and by grabbing the field label you can move the field to a new location on the layout. New themes of colour and textures have been added, providing over 30 choices. The special effects used in selecting and switching between themes were so much fun we forgot we were building database layouts.

The table display of the data has been greatly improved. Data can be selected and entered directly into the table fields. New fields can be added directly to the spreadsheet view without having to switch back to a layout view. Another new feature is a split view. With just a single click, the table view appears at the top of the layout and the layout detail view appears on the bottom half of the screen. Selection of a row from the table populates the layout details below.

NEXT: Bento 2's Integration with OS X


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