Take your Bento to go

Bento is Filemaker, Inc.’s database for Everyman. This easy-to-use application puts powerful relational database capabilities at your fingertips without requiring that you be a computer genius. In fact, you don’t even need to know just what “relational database” means. But what could that mean for you in practical terms? Using Bento 3 ($49;  ), the Bento iPhone app ($5;  ), and the hundreds of premade Bento templates, you can organize just about anything.

As an example, I’ll show you how to create a Bento library to manage the coaches and players in a soccer league. Using your database, you’ll be able to collect and organize player information and assign players to a team. Also, using the Bento iPhone app, you’ll be able to take pictures of players and coaches, update contact information and then sync that data back to your main database.

If you’ve never used Bento before, check out Getting Started With Bento first to learn how to create a basic database. If you don’t already have a copy of Bento to play with, download a free trial version from the Bento Web site.  To use the Bento iPhone app you’ll need to purchase it from the app store. But even if you don’t have an iPhone, you can still complete this tutorial, without syncing, using photos you already have on your Mac.

Find and import a template from Bento’s Template Exchange

Bento templates
Bento's template Exchange lets you find and download ready-made templates for many of your database needs.

To start our soccer league database we need a library to store all the players in the league. With nearly 300 premade templates for managing everything from lesson plans to the contents of your wine cellar, Bento’s Template Exchange is a great place to start if you don’t want to create your own library from scratch. You can get to Bento’s Template Exchange two ways. Download one directly from the online Template Exchange, or from within Bento select File -> New Library From Template. Then click on the Template Exchange button that appears at the bottom of Bento’s template window.

Type soccer in the template search field, press Return, and then click on the Soccer Team Bento 2 template to download it. (It’s OK that it says Bento 2—it will work fine in Bento 3.)

After the template downloads, navigate to it in the Finder (you’ll probably find it in youruserfolder/Downloads), and then double-click to import it into Bento. (Alternatively, in Bento, you can select File -> Import -> Template. Navigate to the file, and then click on Open.)

Customize the library

The template you found at the Template Exchange is great, but it has more fields than you’ll need for this tutorial. To make things simpler, first click on the Soccer Team library in the library list and change the name to Players. Delete the Uniform List form by selecting it in the navigation bar and then clicking on the navigation bar’s minus-sign (-).

At the bottom left of the template, you’ll see a list of field names. Select and delete (by pressing your Delete key or clicking on the minus-sign below the field names) the following fields from the library. You can hold down the Command key while clicking each field to select each one and then delete them all at once: Emails, Father's Name, Jersey Returned, Lives With,Mother's Name, Paid for Tournament, Season, Shorts Returned, Shorts Size

Once you’ve deleted the unnecessary fields, click on the Details button and arrange the remaining fields where you want them on the form.

Create a new Library by selecting File -> New Blank Library. Name it Coaches and Teams and create the following fields: Coaches & Teams, Coach's First Name (Text), Coach's Last Name (Text), First Name + Last Name (Calculated Field), Coach's Email Address (Email Address), Coach's Phone Number (Phone Number), Team Division (Choice: Senior, Intermediate, Pee Wee, Jr. Pee Wee), Team Color (Choice: Orange, Green, Yellow, Dk. Blue, Lt. Blue, Purple), Team Sponsor (Text), Coach's Photo (Media)

Once you’ve created the Coaches & Teams Library you can arrange the fields on your form the way they appear in the following screen shot.

Placing fields on your form
Once you create the Coaches and Teams Library, place the fields where you want them on the form.

You’ll need to use a column divider (Insert -> Column Divider) to keep the coach’s information to the right of the team and player information. When you finish arranging the fields, create new records in each library—one or two in the Coaches & Teams Library and 15-20 in the Players Library.

After you create your records, switch to the Coaches & Teams form and then drag the Players library to the open space below the team information. Two things happen when you do this, first a blank table appears where you dragged the library onto the form. Second, behind the scenes Bento creates a link between the Coaches & Teams Library so that you can easily assign players to their coaches.

Bento’s table view for related records is great, but for our purposes, the new Grid View is better. It makes it easier is to see all the players on each coach’s team. To change the table to grid view, move your mouse to the bottom-right corner of the grid and click on the small button that has four little squares on it. This is the Grid View button. Once you add players and photos, it will allow Bento to display thumbnail photos of every player on a coach’s team.

Now click on the button on the left-hand side of the grid view that has several small lines and a plus sign (+) next to it. This is the Add Related Records From A List button. When you press it, a new window with all the players in your players library will appear. Double click on each player that you want to add to the team, and then close the window. When you’re done your Coaches and Teams form should look like the following screenshot:

Completed form
Once you add your related records, your Coaches and Teams form should look something like this.

Link and sync your iPhone to add pictures

Our final step is to get our players pictures into the Players library using the iPhone’s camera. Note that if you don’t have an iPhone all you need to do is click once on the field where a player’s photo is displayed and then use the Add Media tools to import or take a photo. Also, syncing with your iPhone will only work if you’re on a Wi-Fi network.

iPhone code
When you tap the Sync button in the Bento iPhone app you'll see a unique four digit code.

To link your phone and Bento, launch the Bento app on your phone and then tap the Sync button. Next, tap Set Up Sync With Computer. You should see a four-digit code appear on the phone’s screen.

 

Go to your Mac and open Bento. Choose File -> Set Up Sync With Device, and then select your phone from the list. Enter the code from your phone and then click on Done. Next choose Bento -> Preferences -> Sharing then choose the Share Selected Libraries radio button and select the boxes for the Players and the Coaches & Teams libraries. When you’re done, go back to Bento on your iPhone and tap the button that says Sync Now. Tap Bento’s home button and both these libraries should now appear on your phone.

To add player photos, open the Players library on your phone, locate the player you’re taking the photo of in the player list, and then tap the photo field. At the bottom left of the photo field is a small box with an arrow coming out of it. Tap that button and then tap the button that says Capture Media.

Take a photo of the player with your phone. When the preview appears, tap the button that says Use. A photo of the player should now appear in the photo field. Tap the button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says # Of # to return to the player’s information. Tap the Sync button, and then tap Sync Now again.

Return to Bento on your Mac and open the Coaches and Teams library. If the photo you took of the player is on the team you’re looking at, that player’s photo should now appear in Grid View on the form.

[Jeffery Battersby is a writer, IT Consultant, and occasional actor living in New York. He writes about Macs and more at jeffbattersby.com.]

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