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Old 11-10-2009, 01:34 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Bento or FileMaker Pro?

My old FileMaker no longer runs on any computer, and I need to do some database work, not too fancy. I know (well, once knew) FM fairly well and liked it. Version 10 costs $300.

Bento 3 costs $50, but from the comments at Amazon I am unsure whether I would find it useful. It sounds as if it is very Mac-ish, and geared to working with Apple apps (plus Excel), but not with many others.

Does anyone know if Bento gracefully accepts and outputs tab-delimited and/or comma-delimited text files? If one can easily create and format custom forms and layouts? If it can merge fields for output?

Any experience, anyone?

   
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:13 PM   #2
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Bento is very limited.

Custom forms and layouts: it comes with templates and there are a few available elsewhere. You have complete freedom to place input fields anywhere on the screen, so long as they align with the invisible grid. It is possible to create new templates but this is not an activity normally undertaken by mere mortals. Using the provided templates is OK so long as you like the colour scheme and the font - since there are no options to change these.

As for working with tab-delimited files, how much grace do you want? It has both import and export available in the file menu. The export function gives the choice of Excel, Numbers, Text or Bento library. The import option will clearly import stuff but finding out what format(s) it requires would mean reading the help instructions or watching the manual.(I say 'watching' because most of the 'manual' only seems to exist as videos.)

Output is simple - you just chose print and what you see is similar to what you get. Bento doesn't complicate the issue by merging fields or anything like that. The simplicity is in the name. Imagine a real bento. If you were to turn it upside down then it would output pretty much what you see. Tipping up a bento is much like getting hard copy out of Bento.

Bento will not merge fields as such. Fields can be combined using the standard arithmetical operators (+ - * /) but Bento avoids confusing the simple minded by not offering any conditional operators or complicated stuff like that.

You could always experiment with a demo copy of Bento. About half an hour's work should be sufficient to become an expert user. When I first started using Bento I bought a book as I thought there must be some features I hadn't discovered and there must be a way of doing simple things that most simple databases do. The book reassured me that my first half-hour play had uncovered everything. The official Bento forum is quite a good place to learn what Bento cannot do. It is littered with posts asking 'How do I ...' followed by responses from the forum manager saying 'You cannot do...' or 'Bento does not support...' interspersed with the occasional 'I will suggest that feature to the development team.'

Open Office for the Mac comes with a database and it might be worth exploring that if you can find some good documentation and want to save money.

NOTE: All the above is based on Bento 2. Bento 3 offers some added features but not many.

   
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:29 AM   #3
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Whew — thanks for all that.

And it confirms my fears. I’ll take a look at the DB in OpenOffice. I would rather have complexity than be stuck with pre-designed templates.

   
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:43 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
Whew — thanks for all that.

And it confirms my fears. I’ll take a look at the DB in OpenOffice. I would rather have complexity than be stuck with pre-designed templates.
I am looking for a database program for Windows. I was once very good with Foxpro 2.6 for Windows, but that was a long time ago. Let us know what the DB in OpenOffice provides. At least, the price is right!
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Old 11-11-2009, 08:17 AM   #5
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I am looking for a database program for Windows. I was once very good with Foxpro 2.6 for Windows, but that was a long time ago. Let us know what the DB in OpenOffice provides. At least, the price is right!
Indeed!

There is a version of FileMaker 10 for Windows, discounted to $270 at Amazon. It is excellent database software.

   
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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I’ll take a look at the DB in OpenOffice.
Do let me know how you get on. The documentation with Open Office is sparse so it may be necessary to Google for tutorials.

   
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Old 11-14-2009, 11:01 AM   #7
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Do let me know how you get on. The documentation with Open Office is sparse so it may be necessary to Google for tutorials.
Actually, I remembered there was a DB in NeoOffice, so I am looking at that. Probably not much in the way of documentation there, either.

   
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Old 11-15-2009, 05:44 AM   #8
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NeoOffice seems to be a 'Macified' version of OpenOffice so it should be capable of the same things as Oo.

OoBase accepts comma, tab, space, semicolon or other user specified delimiters (as long as it is contained in the data). To use anything other than .odf you have to untick the auto extension option and simply type the file type.

If you feel more adventurous you could try MySQL Workbench , but it might not be what you are looking for? I had a brief look at it but since there is a database plugin for Aptana Studio (Quantum) which I already use I'll stick with that as it more than meets my humble needs.

   
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:29 AM   #9
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OoBase accepts comma, tab, space, semicolon or other user specified delimiters (as long as it is contained in the data). To use anything other than .odf you have to untick the auto extension option and simply type the file type.
Thanks for that tip. My main question about OO or Neo Office is how easy it is to format (visually) the output. FileMaker is fabulous with that — you can make an output page look like a page produced by a layout program.

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If you feel more adventurous you could try MySQL Workbench , but it might not be what you are looking for? I had a brief look at it but since there is a database plugin for Aptana Studio (Quantum) which I already use I'll stick with that as it more than meets my humble needs.
I use MySQL for this forum, for WordPress, etc., and actually considered it. I guess you could always format output by adding tags to the data and then using InDesign (or good old PageMaker). But that begins to sound like a big project.

   
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:17 AM   #10
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My main question about OO or Neo Office is how easy it is to format (visually) the output. FileMaker is fabulous with that — you can make an output page look like a page produced by a layout program.
I'm no help there as it was never an issue when I did work on contract for a market research company (my main encounter with databases) as we simply extracted the required data using spreadsheets.

There were about 1300 people out in the wild equipped with Apple Newton Message Pads gathering data for the research that was done on behalf of the company's clients. Every Friday the weeks work was emailed to us and automagically fed into the database.

Every Monday we also recieved a few of the Message Pads that had locked up, but that's a different story.

   
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