Apple Tries to Simplify Databases

Not even Bento for the Mac can make electronic cataloging sound truly easy.

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"Database" is not a word that's often linked to "easy." But Filemaker, the Apple subsidiary best known for fairly sophisticated database software, is trying to bring Mac simplicity to personal lists.

Bento is Filemaker's new drag-and-drop software for cataloging contacts, music, stamps, or just about any other electronic library we can conceive of. The software will ship with more than 20 templates, or the more ambitious can build their own by pulling different types of fields from a menu onto a new database. Finding things is simplified with a search page that's reminiscent of iTunes.

Filemaker is offering a free preview that expires after the software's official release, expected in January at a price of $50. The software requires Apple's latest operating system, called Leopard, which it uses to automatically link Bento with Apple's calendar and address book.

Apple execs are good at making things look simple. But I doubt that even they can sell Bento to the Mac masses. It took 17 bullets in a press release simply to begin describing what the software can do. Maybe, as a start, they can figure out how to pitch Bento without using the word "database."

Apple Inc.

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