iPad Gem: Bento

by Dean Mattson

Almost anyone that works in a school these days is required to keep track of a lot of data these days, and I am no exception. Among other things, I have a list every student in the school to keep track of their log-in information and I also keep an inventory of all the technology hardware in the school.

Up to now, this has meant me printing large amounts of paper so I can double-check each teachers inventory, make the necessary changes on the paper I printed and then go back to my computer and update the information there. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could carry some type of device with me with which I could update the information there?

With the iPad and the app Bento, I can do exactly that. Happy days are here at last!

Bento is an easy-to-use database program I’ve been using on my Macs for a few years now and what I’ve been using to keep long lists of information. It was good, but there was that missing piece to the workflow.

I thought the Bento iPhone app was going to be the answer, but I didn’t find it particularly useful. The screen was too small and it didn’t show me the lists of information I needed to see.

The iPad app is a whole different story. It imports all the lists I created on my desktop and makes navigating between them a breeze. If I want to see a list of students in a particular room, I can get to that quickly. I wasn’t able to see that on my iPhone.

I can also add a student or edit any of his information right from the iPad. Even more impressive, I can sync the changes over wifi back to my desktop with just a click of a button.

I have noticed a few glitches in the sync function as I’m trying to sync all my data with my computer at home as well as at work. I’ve noticed if I have a group of information (a library, using Bento’s terminology) only on my iPad, it will delete it when I try to sync it. It needs to exist on the Mac. Similarly, I had some sample libraries I deleted on my iPad, but after I synced, they had reappeared because they still existed on one of my computers. It’s probably much easier to manage if you sync the information on your iPad and one computer instead of two.

But if you need to track a large amounts of data, I recommend you look into Bento. I know it’s going to make things easier for me as well as save a whole bunch of paper!