When FileMaker relegated Bento to the dustbin, users of the occasionally maligned but rather excellent and exceedingly simple personal database for the Mac and iOS were left wondering what’s next for the collection of Bento data they had accumulated over the previous few years. Are any applications as versatile as Bento available to take over its role? And is there an easy way to transfer your data from Bento to one of those other apps?
Though some critics of Bento felt that the app was too inflexible and that it put a straitjacket on database creation, it was a slick database app that enabled users to create nice-looking relational databases without requiring much more than an interest in organizing your personal data. Turns out, finding a capable replacement is a pretty tall order.
Over the past few weeks I’ve reviewed three apps that offer features similar to Bento: Tap Zapp Software’s TapForms (), Apimac’s iDatabase (), and Giowisys Software’s Symphytum () For this story I also looked at Filemaker Inc.’s flagship FileMaker Pro, as a slightly more expensive and far more capable alternative. Each offers useful database tools—some of them better than Bento’s, but most of them not.
Importing existing Bento data
Which of these apps gives you the best options for importing your existing Bento data? The short and unsurprising answer is FileMaker Pro. TapForms, iDatabase, and Symphytum only offer options for importing data files in their native formats or as comma-delimited (CSV) files. Bento has no problem exporting data in a CSV format, but, since CSV files are text files, they can contain only text data. If you have any images stored in your Bento database, they will not show up in your new database.
FileMakerPro is the only app that provides an option for importing your entire Bento database—including images and, if you’ve created relational databases, the relationships between your various files.