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Bento: A Personal Database from FileMaker

Bento Icon

The makers of FileMaker have released a preview of a new application called Bento. It’s labeled as “personal database software” for managing all aspects of your life from contacts and events to inventory and expenses.

It’s currently a pre-release trial version, meaning your trial will eventually expire, forcing you to purchase Bento if you intend to keep your data. The trial looks to last around 90 days at this point which I assume will coincide with an official launch of the product.


I have to say that Bento looks quite promising thus far. FileMaker is specifically targeting the “personal use” users, as opposed to businesses, with dozens of pre-made templates and simplistic interface. It seems they’ve taken their wildly popular FileMaker software and cut the fluff down so that the average user can get up and running quickly…which I have to say is quite appealing.

Bento divides data into “Libraries”. You can choose from a set of 23 different pre-built libraries that cover just about ever category imaginable of data that could be put in a database. Everything from an Exercise Log to Vehicle Maintenance to Home Inventory is available to jump right in to.


All of the libraries can be customized to fit your needs. My only complaint with this is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to change the default visual design of the templates though I assume this may be available in a future release.

Bento is definitely geared toward personal use but given its ability to be heavily customize, I would imagine that a slew of small businesses will be able to make use of this software. It can import any CSV-formated text file, which is great for those people who have been using something like an Excel spreadsheet for this type of data.

No word yet on pricing or an official launch date, but with a 3 month trial period, I highly suggest giving it a try.

12 Responses to “Bento: A Personal Database from FileMaker”

  1. George M

    I wanna be able to use this for web development. It seems like it would be a good place to store contacts, stock resources (images, icons, code, comps), but unfortunately it does not seem to support drag and drop.
    If it had that I would be all over this app.

  2. Lee, I wasn’t curious, but now that you mention it, that’s very interesting!

    I like the idea of naming an app something interesting and original, I mean, when you’re looking for help or hints for Apple’s ‘Mail’ it’s a pain in the neck, but if they called it ‘iDoMailReallyEasily’ or ‘MailWranger’ that would be so much better.

    Or how about ‘MailStrangler’. Now THAT would be different.

    Wait a second, that’s already taken.
    Never mind.

    The point is to take your simple life and make it even simpler by arranging it all in a complex database system. You can keep track of your potted plants in the house or the annual rainfall of your home town, so you can decide whether to move back there or not.
    Stuff like that.

  3. Btw, if you’re curious…

    The word “bento” is Japanese and is a lunch box commonly composed of small servings of many different foods. Students in my high school bring bentos from home each day to eat for lunch.

  4. The timing couldn’t be better. Rather than upgrade my aging copy of Filemaker 6.5, I was looking for a less pricey, less complex alternative. Looks like Filemaker itself may provide that alternative.

    Now if they’d just make it import FM files, creating a simple database with my basic data intact and with all the fields named as before. That’d be a lot better than CSV export and import.

    –Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

  5. @Ben: FileMaker is indeed owned by Apple but they’ve almost always run themselves as a totally separate entity form Apple. The most I could see is this being some sort of “bundled” software with OS X, but I even doubt that as Apple is pretty good about not bloating their OS with apps you don’t need.