Bento is a personal database program for Macs made by Filemaker. It’s a database program for those of us that don’t really want to take the time to learn how to use an actual database. So what does it do?
Imagine having a table of information. It could be anything, pieces in a collection, addresses, bills you have to pay, health records, whatever. You could arrange it in a spreadsheet so it is all organized, you could even use it to calculate stuff if there were numbers involved. Now imagine taking that info and adding pictures to each item in that group. Imagine being able to tie contacts or calendar events to those items. In addition, imagine being able to tie just about anything else to that information that you might think of. Things like URLs, ratings, times, dates, etc. can easily be added to those items. All of it is searchable by those tags as well. That’s Bento.
Bento is a great way of organizing info for all sorts of purposes. They have templates for inventories (collections, insurance purposes, etc.), class information, health records, project planning, event organizing, and lots of others. There are also thousands of other templates available for download at their site. You can always make up your own as well of course. It supports imports from excel and numbers and ties in directly with iPhoto and your address book.
So Bento is great for lots of stuff, but this is what got me, it is incredibly easy to put that same info on your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad. They have apps for those devices and it is literally one tap to synchronize the databases with each other. So, let’s say you have a database of books that you want to buy, put it on your iPhone and take it with you to the second hand bookstore. If you have collection, you would be able to take the info with you to swap meets. If you are planning a party, you can take the database with you to both make sure you buy the right stuff and cross off people’s names as they RSVP to you. You can keep track of milage and other expenses for reimbursement purposes while you keep track of your customers and what they are buying and selling. It is the ease of portability that blew me away really. Bento gives you the simplest and fastest way to sync personal databases across your devices. It’s one thing to have data organized, it’s quite another to be mobile with it.
I’m sounding a bit like an ad I know, but I’m seriously impressed with this software. There are all sorts of organizing software packages out there, but this is the only one that I know of that allows you to move your info so easily. Check it out!