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Adobe Creative Suite

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 49 of 115

REVIEW FILEMAKER'S BENTO 4: DATA ON THE GO FOR YOUR IPAD WORDS BY RIC GETTER When it made its debut just over four years ago FileMaker's Bentofor the Mac gave home and small business users access to a tool that's normally too unwieldy for anyone without an IT department. The program, built on the company's vast experience with its namesake database, offered a simple and flexible way to keep track of things ranging from stamp collections to sales calls. When Bento first arrived for iOS devices last year, you could sync up and take your data on the road. With FileMaker's just-released Bento 4for the iPad, the whole database can travel with you. It not only lets you capture data, you can build and redesign your databases entirely on your iPad. In some respects, it goes several steps beyond its less portable sibling. On the other hand, it lacks a few basic functions that some users may need. Like the desktop version, it comes with two-dozen pre-built templates that you can use as a base for your personal libraries (Bento's less intimidating name for databases). You can also search the online exchange for one contributed by Bento's rapidly growing online community. And of course, you can begin with a blank slate and a good idea and create one of your own. Abundant Fields Whether you're building or customizing a form, Bento for iPad gives you a lot of options for the kinds of data you can store. It has all the traditional types of fields you'd expect and also takes advantage of the iPad's many talents to capture images, audio and video as well as your current location. There are touch- friendly elements like drop-down menus, checkboxes and ratings. The choice of fields also include a few options you normally only see on database apps used by bigger business. You can add fields that include calculations, fields can be encrypted and a "related data" option lets you bring in information from an entirely different library. There's even a "simple list" option that lets a single record contain a list or table of its own. Your choice of field type will affect how you enter data. As you would expect, the keyboard pops up for entering text, and a keypad for entering numbers (though the phone field brings up a standard keyboard). Variable Views You have a choice of five different sizes for the size of the text and optionally add light or dark shading. These are reflected automatically in the variety of visual themes you can apply to your library. The themes are actually a viewing, rather than a design, option. They can be changed on the fly as your mood (or lighting conditions) dictate. If you want to keep things really simple, each form can be displayed and manipulated a simple, spreadsheet-like table. One very nice feature is the ability to add basic functions like sum, total and count to your bottom line in this view as well as rearranging the order of the columns. The columns can be sorted, but there are no select or filter features. The best you can do is sort and manually select a group and save a "collection" that is a subset of your library. One component Bento for the iPad is missing, however, is the ability to print your data. Designing reports, of course, would add a layer of complexity to this friendly app. However, if report generating is an important part of your workflow, you can sync your data to Bento for the desktop (recently updated to 4.1 to integrate with the iPad app), and build your reports there. You can also email libraries or collections as comma- separated value (CSV) text files. Though you can hide fields in the column view, CSV exports still contain them. Bento provides a way to import contacts from your Apple Address Book, but there's no direct link between the two. Moving On Up It's worth mentioning here that just a few weeks before Bento's arrival, the company released version 12 of if its flagship Fi leMaker Prodatabase products along with FileMaker Go 12for iOS devices. FileMaker 12 is a fully featured relational database for medium to larger business. As databases go, FileMaker Pro offers a level of flexibility and simplicity that's truly unmatched. The cost of entry here is higher than Bento, but with its lower development and operational costs, it is still a bargain compared to other, similarly capable solutions. Bento 4 for the iPad is an app than can open up several new horizons for the home or small business. It not only offers new options for carrying and capturing data on the go, it does so with a truly noteworthy level of elegance and simplicity. It may prove to be one of the most important, breakthrough products of the year for the device even though there's still room for improvement. Product > Made by > Price > Pros > Cons > Rating > Bento 4 for iPad FileMaker, Inc. ( $9.99 System requirements > iOS 5.0 or later Easy to use and learn; Data entry & retrieval; Excellent use of multi-touch Lacks printing; Limited ability to select subsets of data 48 MacDirectory

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