Gathering risk scenarios & incident information, and updating them can be an intense job, especially if the available data is scattered over multiple files and multiple formats. Often clients have the need to merge parts of data from different sources and tend to ask for help to do this in a decent manner. Luckily the BowTieXP software supports this need through different methods. The purpose of this blog is to make this job easier by providing you with handles for future importing of data.

This blog series consists of four parts

After this four-part blog series, you will be able to

Understand how BowTieXP structures data, make or edit a template for import or update of data, import data from external sources, update data within your current file, know the pros and cons between the various importing methods.

In this first part, we’ll show you the importing methods available in BowTieXP together with their pros and cons. Once this is clear, we’ll show you how to prep your data so that BowTieXP understands it and is able to convert it to bowtie entities (all data available in the treeview). Finally, we’ll take you through importing data via the first method: Scrapbook.

Importing methods and their pros and cons

BowTieXP offers multiple methods for importing new data which are:

  • “Import External Data” in the file menu
  • “Import Entities” in the file menu
  • Import through the “Scrapbook”

Every method has its own purpose and offers pros and cons, which we’ll discuss below.

Import External Data: Imports from Excel files

+ Possible to merge data from multiple files by combining them in one excel file
+ Less time consuming as large amounts of data can be imported at once
– Uses a pre-defined template, so extra preparation is needed
– Only suited for the lookup tables, bowtie and incident groups can’t be transferred via this method
– Only available in the Advanced version of BowTieXP

This option is flexible but requires more preparation. This is the only option which makes it possible to merge data from multiple BowTieXP files (by exporting them to excel first) and then import everything at once (by merging them in one excel file). The danger with this option is that some of the data may get copied and pasted in the wrong cells which would result in wrongly imported data and therefore loss of quality. Therefore, be careful and focused when preparing the data.

Import Entities: Imports from BowTieXP file (.btf)

+ Selecting data on a granular level (mark exactly what needs to be imported)
+ Available in the Standard version of BowTieXP
– Import one file at a time
– Only backward compatible (with files created in the same or lower version of the software)

Just as the first option, this option has sufficient flexibility. Specific parts of data can be selected and added to the new file. This level of granularity is much higher than with the “import external data” method. However, to be able to use this, the source file (from which data is imported) should be created by the same or older version of the software. Therefore, this can offer some restrictions. Just as with the first option, a backup of the target file is recommended.

Import bowties, incidents and other data via the scrapbook

+ More intuitive and easier to use as it provides drag and drop functionality and data converter
+ Forward and backward compatible (Files can be used regardless of which software version created them)
– Import one scrapbook file at a time. However multiple items within the scrapbook can be selected and imported at once
– Only available in the Advanced and more recent version of BowTieXP

The scrapbook is a powerful functionality that provides many advantages compared to the other methods. One of those advantages is to convert entities or parts of data from one type to another. The scrapbook is the most intuitive solution and works by simply dragging and dropping items. Compared to the other two methods, it’s not possible to automatically import everything without dragging and dropping. However, this option is backward compatible and therefore gives you the access to scrapbook files created in an earlier version of the software.

The scrapbook is the easiest method to import data and is also partially used in the other two methods. Therefore, this will be the first method explained after we show you how to prep your data.

Prepare your data for import using scrapbook

Depending on which importing method you are using, it’s important to prepare your data according to the BowTieXP language so that BowTieXP is able to transform your data into bowtie entities or diagrams. This is specifically relevant when Importing External Data. As the next part revolves around this method, we’ll get into speaking the BowTieXP language the next time.

The focus in this part of the blog series is on the “scrapbook” method. This is the easiest preparation of all. To be able to transfer something via the scrapbook functionality, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the source file (the BowTieXP file containing the data you want to transfer).
  2. Open scrapbook – Go to “View” > “Windows” > “Scrapbook”. Or use the CTRL+Shift+S key combination.
  3. Find the data you want to transfer and either: drag and drop it from the treeview into the scrapbook window; Or, drag and drop it from the main diagram window into the scrapbook window by holding the ALT key before dragging. See the image below.
  4. Save the data as a .bts file by clicking on the disk/save icon. Do this in a convenient place so it can easily be found when importing.
  5. If you still have unwanted data in the scrapbook window you can delete it by clicking on it and pressing delete on your keyboard.

Import data using scrapbook

Importing data using scrapbook doesn’t significantly differ from the preparation steps.

  1. Open the desired target file where data needs to be imported into.
  2. Open the scrapbook if it’s not visible – Go to “View” > “Windows” > “Scrapbook”. Or use the CTRL+Shift+S key combination.
  3. Click on “Open data source file…”
  4. Select and click “Open” or double-click on the conveniently saved scrapbook file with the prepared data. 
  5. Select pieces of data and drag and drop them in the correct place. By using “ALT” + drag and drop, you can also drop items on the bowtie diagram. 

Congratulations! You have successfully imported data via the scrapbook method.