The “database for the rest of us,” FileMaker’s Bento for Mac, has hit version 4 today along with revised builds of the iPhone and iPad editions. It’s a little bit surprising to realize that Bento has actually been on the market for three years now; in this edition, the product team has added some key features to the personal data manager, and for the first time it will be sold via the Mac App Store in addition to boxed/download sales.
The biggest improvement in 4.0 is a feature so obvious that I mistakenly thought it was already part of the product: full label printing support. Bento now includes print templates for more than 250 label sheets from Avery and DYMO, and allows you to selectively include per-record images (like photos or QR codes for inventory stickers or conference badges). You can create custom label formats, and include your label setups in a template for easy export. Overall printing controls are also souped up in the new version.
Speaking of templates, Bento 4 makes it easier to share your database layouts with friends and colleagues or with the entire world. A new export feature (Template with Data) gives you a way to easily share a template pre-populated with your content; very handy for workgroups or family use. You can also do a one-button upload of your prized template (sans data) to the Bento Template Exchange if you think it’s worthy/useful.
For data entry on the go, Bento 4 includes a location field type that can be applied to any record. Once it’s there, it can automatically populate your latitude and longitude at the time the record is modified, based on your WiFi or GPS coordinates; this syncs/tracks with the iOS versions of Bento as well, so for mobile professionals (insurance/legal, real estate, civil engineering, etc.) who have a need to geotag their content, this seems like a winner.
Another data type that’s syncing with the iOS Bento versions is voice memos. These can be captured on the Mac or on iPhone/iPad, letting you easily associate short audio snippets with a record for future reference. I could see the combination of an iPad 2 and Bento working very well for a recruiter or casting director who might need to keep a picture, resume and voiceover sample in one record.
There are more new features to explore, so check them out. Bento 4 is available immediately at a $29 upgrade price for existing users; it’s $49 for a new single license, $99 for a family pack. The iPhone and iPad versions are $4.99 each, and they are indeed separate apps for the two device families.