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Bento is a personal data organizer for Leopard that provides a place to store any information Mac users might want to collect, track, or connect. In Bento 2 Essential Training, database expert Cris Ippolite introduces the concept of databases to Bento users and demonstrates techniques for getting data into the application. He describes the features of Bento that allow Mac users to create libraries and Smart Collections for all sorts of information, and he shows how to use calculation and media fields. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the nice things about Bento databases is that you don't have to add every record that's inside your database yourself. You can import records in from other files that were created in other applications. This is a great way to add new data in batches instead of having to manually enter it all. So you'll first notice that under the File menu, there is an option for Import. And under Import, you see that you got two choices. We are going to concentrate on importing a file right now. If we open the Import file dialog window, you have three different options here. You can import certain file formats and you can choose a file that will act as the import source.
Your import source is going to be the file that's most likely created in another application. It's going to contain the data that you want to import into Bento and it has to be one of the compatible formats. The compatible formats for import sources in Bento are Comma Separated files which you see here as a CSV or a Tab Delimited file. Also Numbers files. And a quick note here, Numbers '08 files are supported but if you want to import a Numbers '09 version file, you will need to update your Bento application to version 2.0v4 or later.
Also Excel documents can act as import sources and there are Excel documents that have an extension of .xls and there is also extension .xlsx, which are Excel '08 and later files. And those are supported formats for import source. So in this case, we are first going to choose CSV files, which is really a text format. And you will see that after you've chosen the file, you can choose a format, in this case, this file could be interpreted as either Comma separated or Tab separated. We are going to keep it at its default, Comma.
Now this is an important part in step number 2. You are going to choose the target, so we have chosen the source or the file that we are going to import that has all the data we are trying to bring into Bento. But then we also have the target meaning where is all that data going to go inside of our database. Now in one of the first movies in this title, we covered creating a new library by importing information in which is a great way to get started in Bento. But in this case, what we are going to do is choose one of our existing libraries. So here we have Properties, where we have only got three records as you see in the background. And we want to bring in all the records from the source file into this library. Once we choose the target library, we then need to move on to step 3.
In step 3, what we are doing is not only do we have pick which library these are going into but we have to take the individual columns in our source file and say what fields those will go into inside of our chosen target which is the Properties. So now what I'll do is go into the column on the far left for the record values, which represents the values that are inside the source file, and I'll choose which one of these values matches up, in this case, with the Street field inside the Property library. Now I'm going to do the same for City and we see we have a city there, and State, and Zip. And I'm kind of eyeballing these based on what logically looks like the right record value. But if I want to check to make sure I have lined them up properly, I can cycle through all of the different records in the source to make sure that the formats look okay.
One interesting thing here is if there is a piece of data that's in this list from the source file that I don't already have a field for inside of my chosen library, then I can just hit the Add Field button here which will allow me to go create a field and then line that field up without having to close out of my Import dialog, which is a pretty handy feature inside of Bento. Now I'll hit the Import button. Then as you see, we have all these new records that are added inside of our Properties table. To do another example of this, we'll go back under the File menu, to Import, and select File. This time, I'm going to choose a Numbers file and again we should mention, this is a Numbers '09 file that's in your Exercise Files. But it's important to know that if you have not yet updated your Bento version to Version 2.0v4, you will not be able to import in an '09 file but instead only a Numbers '08 file.
So again, we've chosen the Numbers file, and if there are multiple sheets or multiple tables we'll select them but in this case we just have one of each. And we'll also choose Properties, and you see now we have 13 records in the Properties table. And we are going to do the same exercise. Now you'll notice in this case, instead of having data show up in the record values, we instead have the column headers or the names of the fields. So here we'll just line up Address with Street, City with City, State with State, Zip with Zip. And then I can cycle through all the records and now see the data and make sure that looks like it lines up properly.
So now we know it's okay to Import but now we see instead of having 13 records, we now have 37 records imported into our table. In this case, there were some empty records inside of our Numbers file, so we can easily just select those, hold down one record, go all the way down to the bottom and if we'd like we could then hit Delete Selected Records to clean everything up. So now we have got a total of 37 records. We have even cleaned up some of the records that we brought in. You can't always rely on the fact that the data that you are bringing in from other sources is going to be clean. So sometimes you have to do a little bit of scrubbing after it gets imported into your table.
And now I have got one more example to show you of how we can bring record data into Bento. And if we look into another application that we have open, and we'll just pick the records, let's say from Broomfield, CO. And then go into Copy and now that we have those in our clipboard we can navigate back to Bento. And if I click into one of the new field areas and simply hit Paste, we see now that what I'm able to do is copy and paste information from another spreadsheet application.
This is another way. We are not necessarily importing but we can paste information from either Excel or Numbers, which is a handy way to bring data inside of your Bento database. Although, we should note that we could have just imported Excel, the same way we did with the Numbers file, or even the CSV file. Instead we copied and pasted just a subset of data, not the entire file's worth of data from our Excel document. So this way we don't have to bring in all of the records. We can just choose ones that we want, copy them from the spreadsheet, and then paste them right into Table View inside of our libraries in Bento. This, by the way, is a feature that's available in Bento 2.
So it's a good idea to get familiar with the different ways that you can bring data from other applications into your Bento database, so that you don't have to manually create all of the records that you are storing inside of Bento.
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