changing software in midstream

So sad about Bento. Photo Credit: Aylanah via Compfight cc
So sad about Bento. Photo Credit: Aylanah via Compfight cc

I spoke too soon in the last post about my adored software Bento, which is no longer being offered by FileMaker, as of September 30. As you can see in the notice, FileMaker will continue to support Bento through next July, but who would feel comfortable working in software that doesn’t get updates, particularly one for iOS 7? I have painstakingly entered data about each scanned letter and will be adding lots of topical detail to each record as I transcribe the letters. I can’t depend on software that is on its way out.

So I put up a big chunk of money–big for me, even with the discount offered to former Bento users–for FileMaker Pro 12 and its free iPad app FileMaker Go. On the surface, it would seem that the new pair would simply be a more professional version of the Bento pair, but there’s a huge drawback–syncing of data is one-way, from computer to iPad. With Bento, you could do ALL your work directly on the iPad and sync it with the computer software in an instant. Now I will have to do all the work on my computer and wait for it to be pushed to the iOS device, or use a clunky copy/paste/email route to the desktop. Read this mess of methods that are not “true syncing, either”:  The chances that I can develop a customized syncing script, as noted in the last option, are zero.

So, it currently appears that I would waste my time creating new records on the iPad and then trying to integrate them into the computer file, using iTunes of all things–I thought we were so past connecting our devices to iTunes for file transfer and backup. I am currently saving the file in DropBox and opening it on the iPad, but how will looking at it be of any use? And there is this comforting warning:

Important: When you transfer a file to your device, you are creating a copy of the original file. Data changes made on your device are not synchronized to the original file, and vice versa. You will need to transfer the file back to the computer and use FileMaker Pro to import data to the original file in order to update data.

Routine backups are strongly recommended for any document stored on a computer or iOS device.

Well, anyway, I did convert my Bento file into FileMaker and I still have the original, but no longer updated Bento file as a partial backup. I have yet to work in FileMaker, except to change the theme for readability. I’m looking around, seeing what’s different, and figuring out this monster professional database. It will all work out, but I will be tied to my computer, waiting for FileMaker Inc. to wake up and give us true syncing with the mobile app.

2 thoughts on “changing software in midstream

  1. I definitely feel your pain. I too have used Bento for several years and really loved it’s elegant simplicity. True it was lacking in many areas but within it’s limits it was very good and useful.

    I hope FileMaker works out for you, for me it didn’t. IMO it’s the opposite of Bento – powerful but incredibly difficult to use. Clunky even. And I don’t believe it was because I’m a DB novice. I’ve used Access extensively in the past. I think it’s like many “legacy” software programs, it’s carrying around too much old technology that it needs to stay compatible with it’s customer base.

    And, as a former software industry exec, I suspect they had to make a choice to protect their customer base in a shrinking market for on-premise software. Cloud-based apps are where things are going – the economics are just too compelling for customers and application providers. One such provider, for example, is Zoho Creator.

    That said I believe there still is a lack of alternatives to replace Bento, one thing for sure is I won’t be looking to FileMaker, I’d rather move forward than backward.


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