Bento and DT


I am a historian working on a book. I am considering buying one or both of these programs. Mostly what I want to do is the following:

I have thousands of pages of documents collected from multiple archives in multiple countries. What I would like to do is be able to enter each document (or at least the file from which individual documents came) into a database that I can then search via keyword, author, date, etc. I also need to be able to sort by these elements, i.e. sort everything chronologically, or sort by a keyword or author. I used Filemaker 4 for my first book, and then began to use Filemaker 7 when I switched to a Mac. When I used it I tried my best to mimic a notecard which would contain all the data about a document I considered relevant and then have a space to take notes in.

For example, I have about fifty PDF documents that represent 50 or so files from the National Archives of the UK. They are of varying length and are conversions of about 1600 jpegs I shot this summer at the archives. In Bento I would make a separate notecard/record for each one in a library called “National Archives–UK.” I would then take notes on the files and be able then to search for keywords etc. I would then play around with the relational database feature to be able to link data from this archive with materials collected at various archives here in the states, Kenya, India, and Switzerland.

So, that’s Bento. Then, I would like to be able to throw this stuff into a DT databse that would include the hundreds of PDFs of medical journals I have and assorted other bits and pieces. But it seems that I cannot actually import/export b/w DT and Bento (I tried with the free trials). From what I can tell I can easily make a group called “National Archives–UK” that could contain all of the PDFs and even the JPEGs, but since they are not OCR this strikes me as no different from having them listed in Finder.

So, what I am after is way to take notes on my documents in a very systematic way that can be sorted and searched. I do not want to take notes in Word and then import those notes. Bento seems like a good way to go, but I cannot seem to get it to work with DT. Again, I will happily buy both if they can work together.

Thanks for enduring the long post.

Best wishes


Why not just take the notes directly in DT, and create a link from the notecard(s) to the relevant JPG or PDF file(s)? I’m not sure I understand why you would need to augment DT with Bento?



This is a good question: “Why not just take the notes directly in DT, and create a link from the notecard(s)”? I would like to do something like this, the question is how with the sort of data I have. I am not certain even how to take notes–create an RTF doc?

For example, I have about fifty different PDF files made up of correspondence, memos, reports, etc. from the UK National Archives that represent about 1600 separate pages (I have jpegs of each one). The files are of varying length from 8 pages to more than 200. They range in time from the late 1920s to the late 1970s. What I like to (and did do for an earlier book using Filemaker 4) is to make a record of each document in each file. The trick, in part, is that I do not enter the materials in a chronological order, but would like to be able to sort them in such a fashion.

The nice thing with Bento, like other databases, is that you enter data into fields which you can then sort by, search on, etc. All that said, DT really seems like it can do a lot. I’m very willing to be convinced.

Thanks–and if I have not been clear I will try harder next time.

Yes, to add a note to a DT database, you simply create an RTF file.

If it were me, I would give the RTF file a descriptive title:
1940-05-05 Churchill to Chamberlain – notes

In the comment field, I’d add whatever keywords seemed relevant.

Then, in the body of the note, I would include a full citation, with a link (DT’s Make Link function) to the relevant PDF file.

And then I’d proceed to make whatever notes I wanted to make.

The title date format I gave above will sort into correct chronological order. For other sorts, you could use a Smart Group (See the Script menu) based on the appropriate search criteria, or you could just create the desired search on the fly as needed.

Hope this helps,



Thanks for the reply; it’s beginning to make more and more sense how I would use this–and I am beginning to see that it is quite a bit more versatile than Bento. I am trying to see if I can figure out a uniform (or as close to standardized as possible) to organize this material.

When you say “Then, in the body of the note, I would include a full citation, with a link (DT’s Make Link function) to the relevant PDF file.” would you do this with a link representing the file path?

Thanks again.

The Link To command lets you browse the database to find the link destination. The Make Link command turns the highlighted text into a wiki-style link.

I haven’t used these commands much myself, so the manual or other forum members can probably give you better guidance.


Or you can select any text in your note, Command-click (right click) on it and choose the contextual menu option, Link To. Then navigate to the target document.

Thanks for all the help!