Bento: FileMaker “Lite”

November 13, 2007  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Today FileMaker, Inc. – Apple’s database software subsidiary – released Bento, a lightweight database application. Bento is a welcome addition to the contact, scheduling, and office management space.

Previously, the software in this space fell mostly at either end of the complexity continuum. FileMaker Pro is a powerful database, but complicated to use. It’s not the kind of program the typical user can just install and start using with little or no instruction. At the other end of the continuum are programs like Daylite from Marketcircle. Daylite is also quite sophisticated, but it has limited configurability compared to the open-ended possibilities of FileMaker Pro. But, Daylite is straightforward enough that most users can quickly learn how to use it.

Bento is something in between. It combines the power of FileMaker Pro with the simplicity of iLife. Like FileMaker Pro, Bento is a database for organizing all of the information you need for your law practice. Bento integrates directly with the Mac OS X Address Book and iCal databases, so there is no need to sync your data – like you have to do in Daylite or Contactizer. Bento also works with Time Machine, allowing you to backup database and restore single records.

All of these features come with one limitation, however – Bento requires Mac OS X Leopard. However, as I discussed in another article, there are already plenty of good reasons to upgrade to Leopard. Also, Bento seems like it is more suited to a single-user environment – unlike FileMaker Pro and Daylite. Look for a more detailed review of Bento in a few weeks, after I have had a chance to put it through its paces.

Leave a Reply