Bento 4 for iPad Adds Database Design, More

| Product News

Filemaker announced the immediate availability of Bento 4 for the iPad on Tuesday. The new version of the database app added the ability to create and customize databases without requiring a Mac, and supports calculations in fields along with encrypted fields and GPS coordinate fields.

Version 4 (yes, Filemaker skipped versions 2 and 3) includes 25 iOS templates for databases, 40 retina display-ready themes, and the company told The Mac Observer that all of its Bento themes have been redesigned. The iPad app also includes built-in access to Filemaker’s Bento Template Exchange where users can share and download database templates.

Bento 4 supports multi-field sorting, and includes form views, table views, and can split database views, too.

Bento 4 for the iPadBento 4 for the iPad

Users can sync data with the Mac version of Bento over local Wi-Fi networks thanks to the Bento for Mac 4.1 update, which was also released today. Bento for iPhone 1.2 also supports database syncing with Bento for Mac 4.1, and includes support for working with Bento 4 for iPad templates in a long from view.

Bento doesn’t support syncing data via iCloud, but the app design team told TMO that they’re looking into adding that later.

Bento 4’s database design and layout features let users drag and drop fields, auto-moves fields so they don’t sit on top of each other, includes auto-alignment grids, and lets users change themes even after finishing a layout design.

Database fields can include pop-up statistics for columns in table views, and can calculate column summaries. Table columns can be rearranged or hidden as well.

Along with the release of Bento 4 for the iPad, Filemaker is also releasing a free Business Organizer template through Bento Template Exchange.

Bento 4 is priced at US$4.99 through July, and will jump up to its regular $9.99 price on August 1. It is available for download at Apple’s iTunes-based App Store.

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Gareth Harris

I have been building database management systems since the 60s. After early designs, hardware and economics steered databases towards table driven relational models.

Both FileMaker and Bento are based on old software that never was updated to a clean relational model with SQL and both need a complete rewrite. Your can’t ride the Claris horse forever when you are towing so much old baggage. FileMaker seems to violate the Apple dictum of outstanding leading products and instead seem to focus on just barely good enough.

Nonetheless, I have used FileMaker on various projects because its interface is suitable for my clients. It obviously needs cleaning up, decoupling of the database and front end and a direct ODBC interface, features that are probably suppressed by management / marketing decisions.

So why is Bento so crippled also? Why was it made a flat file database like early Claris? The iPad has plenty of resources to run small relational databases and do relational links between tables. It must be a marketing decision then to deliberately cripple Bento so as to protect FileMaker.

BUT if you deliberately make work difficult for users/developers, they will up periscope and look elsewhere.

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