Bento is a database management system from the people behind FileMaker, but it’s not just another version of the popular FileMaker database tool. Instead, Bento is a brand-new product. FileMaker itself has become a sophisticated database development system, and as a result it can be intimidating to those who just want to quickly put together a personal database. Bento does an excellent job of filling the need for creating and managing personal databases.

(It works only with Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, unlike its cross-platform FileMaker database.)

Bento gives you control over your personal data by embracing the ease of use and elegance of the Macintosh OS X environment. Upon installation and execution, Bento incorporates the Address Book, iCal Events, and iCal Tasks as ‘Libraries’ (databases). This provides a good base for all of your personal data in one convenient location. You can create a new Library by selecting from any of the 23 included templates (Inventory, Classes, Vehicle Maintenance, Customers, for example), importing from a CSV file, or you can create your own custom Library from scratch.

Boxed delights
The interface is very similar to the look and feel of iTunes, making it easy to dive in. The Bento interface presents your personal data using three screen areas – the Source list for listing the Libraries and Collections, the Records area for showing the actual data, and the Fields list for listing the fields contained in the Library. The Source list and Fields list can be hidden for when you only want to view the record data.

A quick search field is available above each form, with the option for using the Advanced Find feature. This powerful tool provides the ability to perform a search on multiple fields in the Library, with a ‘Contains’ or ‘Does not contain’ for each field. And the search can display ‘Any’ or ‘All’ records that match the defined criteria.