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Bento 4.1.2 Loses Live Data Links with Calendar and iPhoto

by Alicia Katz Pollock

Users of the Bento personal database software from FileMaker beware! Through Bento 4.1.1, one of the hallmarks of the program was its capacity to maintain live data links to iPhoto, Calendar and Reminders/iCal, and Contacts/Address Book. Changes made to photo metadata, appointments, tasks, and contact cards from within Bento were reflected in each native program, significantly extending Bento’s capabilities. However, with Bento 4.1.2, released 25 September 2012, those features changed. (We’re aware this isn’t new, but it only recently came to our attention.)

According to FileMaker, Bento uses unique identifiers associated with the items to synchronize data with Calendar/iCal and iPhoto. The emergence of cloud-based computing reportedly makes it possible for these unique identifiers to change, resulting in incomplete synchronization and prompting FileMaker to start removing support for such live data links in Bento.

When updating to Bento 4.1.2 from any previous version of 4.x, any data stored in the Bento iPhoto library will be migrated to a new Photos library and disconnected from iPhoto. It’s still possible to add photos from iPhoto to Bento media fields, but they don’t retain a link to the original photo in iPhoto. Also, watch for a prompt about migrating your tasks and events during the update. If you choose to migrate this data, it too will be copied into Bento Tasks and Events libraries that aren’t linked to Calendar and Reminders/iCal. Skip this migration step to maintain live links, but note that FileMaker warns about “potential data issues” in the future if you do so.

Those potential data issues are likely related to a different problem. Apple has long provided the Sync Services API to enable other applications on the Mac to access Calendar’s data, but the company is deprecating this API, which no longer works reliably, suggesting that it will be removed entirely from a future version of OS X. Because of this, future versions of Bento will also remove the Calendar synchronization feature. FileMaker isn’t alone in suffering from this removal; the Omni Group has already removed similar support from OmniFocus, and BusyMac’s BusyCal 2 dropped the capability to sync local On My Mac calendars with Calendar for the same reason.

Luckily, maintaining a link between Bento and Contacts/Address Book isn’t nearly as much of a problem. All versions of Bento 4.x for Mac, and Bento 1.x for iPhone, can synchronize contacts with Contacts/Address Book. There is one gotcha, but it’s not new. If you were using Bento 1 for iPad and you upgrade to Bento 4 for iPad, Bento 4 can import data from Bento 1 or from the Contacts app, but it can’t maintain a link for future changes. However, it is possible to run both Bento 1 and Bento 4 concurrently on your iPad, enabling you to use Bento 1 together with Bento 4 on your Mac to manage your iPad’s Contacts.

[Alicia Katz Pollock has been working with computers since designing a database on an Apple IIc for her father’s dental practice when she was 13. Today she is a consultant at Royalwise Solutions and a course author for Lynda.com. She holds a variety of Apple, Microsoft, and Intuit certifications.]


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