Bento feedback 1
Since a week I am using Bento for two different projects. The application offers a great flexibility, which is great. For such a young application there are naturally still many improvements that can be made.
Bento is called a personal database system and can (and should) not be compared to a full fledged relational database application. And this is also the challenge for the developers: what functionality can be added without becoming to complex. I have the feeling that quite a lot can still be added without becoming to advanced. It should have not become more complex than one of Apple’s iApps.
In my first testcase I created a flat database, such as a collectioneur might use. In my case the collection consists op bottle caps. I have a version of this database online at Listphile. As you can see there, a record consists of a title, a description, an image, links, etc.
- Tags - Bento does not know tags as a concept. It is possible to add tags, but then I lack facilities that I am used to, as in Sandvox or WebnoteHappy for instance. It is possible to use tags through a "related records list", but that is not as nice;
- Links - Bento supports links, but in a limited fashion. Their approach is taken from Apple’s AddressBook. This implies that the title corresponding to an URL, is extreme limited. Out of the box the title can be ‘home’, ‘work’ or ‘other’. One can add other titles, but this is in no way a generic link approach;
- Edit/Design - Bento allows the user to edit his data and change the presentation at the same time. It is very good that this is possible, but I noticed that I accidentally get in design-mode when I want to edit and vice-versa. I would like to see a locking system. This should allow me to lock-down a design when I am finished with it;
- Limited design - Bento does not allow the user to change the design to much. I guess that this way to go is OK for this application, but as it is now it is not enough. Bento should take an approach similar to the iLife suite and introduce an Inspector. This Inspector could have multiple modes, which are now hidden under the menu of Bento;
- Field - allows to set and change field type and its attributes. Change the field name;
- Label - The label text defaults to the field name. However the user can also use another text without changing the field name. The appearance of the label (font, font size, color). The position of the label (above/below/left/right/none);
- Field content - This should allow to change the appearance of a field. This is a bit similar to the Form Tools, but more flexible: choice of font, font size, color of font, color of field box, etc;
- Page appearance - the Themes that Bento supports is extremely limited. Just look at the Keynote application for a better approach;
- Related List appearance - I would like to be apple to suppress the column and row header. And I certainly would like to suppress the controls at the bottom. And if I have just one 1 item in the list, I would like to see a presentation similar to the other fields;
- Object appearance - Now I can not change anything and yet there are many attributes that could be changeable;
- Tabular layout - Bento forces to use tabular layout for elements (fields, related lists, objects) on a form. I guess this is OK in order to limit the complexity. I would like to see some more flexibility, where for instance a column divider does not span the whole page, but just a limited number of rows;
- Objects - The number of objects is now a bit limited. I would like to see images for instance (my company logo!). And naturally the Inspector should allow to edit the attributes of the objects. Take the Keynote app as inspiration here;
- Publishing - any modern data based application should allow to integrate with Internet. There are many possible ways to do this. At its basic Bento should allow to export records into HTML-files. At the next level integration with MobileMe could be possible. Take inspiration from MacGourmet here;
- Spotlight - integration with Spotlight would be nice. Individual records should turn up in the Spotlight results;
- Media browser - a media browser such as can be found in the iLife suite is nice. This would make adding media to records more easier. Just integrate the iMedia browser from Karelia;
- Button bar I would like to see a standard MacOSX button bar. This would allow me to set the buttons that I need most and suppress the others. For me this is: Add record, change view (table/split/form), set form, next/previous record, show media browser;
It might seem that I have a lot on comments on Bento (and that I am not happy with it). The contrary is true. It just inspires me and I see many growth directions. The list here are just some ideas that I would use right away. It can become more complete without being much more complex. It does not have to be as simple as iTunes, but can be complex as Keynote. Anyway, I put my money where my mouth is and acquired the application.