Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bento Discontinued

FileMaker (via Simon Wolf):

FileMaker will stop offering Bento Sept. 30, 2013, and will increase focus on FileMaker Product Line. […] As part of our sharpened focus, we will stop further development of the Bento consumer products.

Clark Goble:

The typical databases back in the day were contacts, tasks, events, passwords, and home inventory. There are excellent apps for all those vastly superior to what Bento could do. So why get Bento when 85% can be done better elsewhere?

Update (2013-08-14): Adam C. Engst:

There are limitations, though, since FileMaker Pro has no integration with the Mac Contacts, iCal, and iPhoto apps, nor does it offer Wi-Fi syncing between Mac and iOS versions. Plus, FileMaker Pro doesn’t support Bento’s Rating, Encrypted, Simple List, File List, and Message List field types, and Bento’s Collections and Smart Collections have no direct equivalents in FileMaker Pro, although you can set up relationships instead.


FileMaker’s announcement is troubling from several viewpoints. Most notably, of course, is how at least hundreds of thousands of Mac and iOS users have been left high and dry, and not just for any old app, but for database software, which almost by definition holds important data.


More generally, it’s often said of free services, especially those from small companies, that you get what you pay for. But with Bento, it was quite reasonable to think that buying popular commercial software from Apple-subsidiary FileMaker would be a near guarantee of future-proofing — could it get any safer? Apparently, yes, it could.

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"So why get Bento when 85% can be done better elsewhere?"

For the other 15%. Duh.

Bento is/was great for the one off stores of structured data that you might have. Better than keeping it in in text file, you could sync the data between your phone and computer (useful for entering data in the field), and easily export it to csv.

I used it for a bunch of different random types of data, particularly where I needed a specific column or checkbox for MY uses that some developer didn't see fit to include in their 'vastly superior' app.

@Tim Do you think forms in Google Docs are an adequate replacement? Or will most Bento users want to upgrade to FileMaker?

I'm not sure. I liked Bento because I didn't have to code up a custom 'app' to store data. I could even do it on the run on my phone - create a new database, enter in some quick info, and clean it up later at home on my computer. Many of the things I could do in a spreadsheet if I had to (and I used to), though having a form view is nice for entering in individual records.

Things I found Bento very useful for:

- Tracking car mileage - I'm sure there's plenty of apps for this, but I didn't need to buy one, Bento worked just fine. Enter data on my phone, sync to the computer when I thought of it, and export CSV files to process with Python if I wanted a report.

- Tracking data sheets for products. This I didn't really need on my phone. Again, I often exported as a CSV file and processed said file via Python to create HTML tables for a website.

- Tracking film development. Yeah I know, who shoots film, right? I still do. Bento has been very useful for me to track info about specific batches of film, as I shoot them in the field. Around the world. Oftentimes without a computer or network access. Custom fields are key here.

- Tracking other minor stuff, car repairs, a few recipes, etc. Things that are convenient to have on the run but aren't necessary. Things that I could track elsewhere, but Bento does it fine.

That's how I see it. I'll probably switch back to spreadsheets for most of this. I can't imagine spending the money on Filemaker, particularly since syncing between mobile and computer isn't exactly straightforward. Working offline and getting my info back to my computer is an important part of many of the above. I might just resort to text editors and dropbox for the mobile half, and then massage the info into the aforementioned spreadsheet or something. (Numbers or Google docs)

One other thing. While there are certainly a bunch of apps that could replace some of this stuff (car mileage, recipe app, document library, etc), it was nice having one app that did most of it. Being able to customize the fields was a nice feature, but also not being depending on 5 different apps idiosyncrasies and/or poor support was a super nice feature.

[...] Link. If FM adds connectivity to OS X apps this will be good. I am not optimistic… [...]

Bad news Bento*, This will make me sad, although I agree the full potential was never realized.

I am an avid collector, and enjoyed cataloging my collections. I most definitely will be searching for more than "adequate" software...I'll be back with my findings!! (if I am lucky to find suitable replacement!!)

As an artist, I used Bento to catalogue my inventory of sold and unsold works, collectors, exhibitions, etc. I liked that I could sync it with my Mac desktop, iphone and ipad, and enter information when out in the field.

I find my devices will no longer sync with each other, although they used to! I recently updated to OS X 07. Would this have anything to do with it? What should I try to make it work again.


We are close to releasing Qollector a native iPad app and Bento alternative with much more. Qollector helps you collect and organize anything, see it everywhere, share with anyone, and find it anytime! Take a look at our website and introduction video:
There are already users sharing their stuff with friends:

Qollector a Free iPAD App is now available for download at https://qollector.com
We look forward to seeing what the community shares.

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