Open an existing file. BrainStorm will try to open any kind of file (.txt and .brn files will be most faithful to the original). BrainStorm files will load as structured models. (See BrainStorm file format for details. If BrainStorm can detect a structure in text files, it will try to preserve the structure. (Indents suggest a hierarchy. Lines starting with lower case letters suggest they are part of a paragraph. Blank lines immediately prior to changing levels are removed.) Otherwise they load as plain text. In all cases the model gets saved as a .brn file.

Tip: one way to create a structured text file out of another program which can print outlines is to print to file.

In 'Printers and Faxes' in Start/Settings or Control Panel, Add printer with the settings Print to File and the Generic / Text only driver. Then when you want to create a text file which can be imported to BrainStorm, simply choose Generic / Text only from the Printer name: in the Print dialogue.

BrainStorm comes with a PowerPoint AddIn which helps you extract information from a presentation in a form acceptable to BrainStorm (and other programs). *See notes at the foot of this page.

If a file is unusually large, a dialogue box will appear which shows progress and gives you the option to abandon reading at any point. After loading is complete, BrainStorm builds the display of the current level. This may be instantaneous, but if the current level list is long, progress will be shown on the status bar.

Please note: if you are a long term BrainStorm user and you have loaded an old DOS (or even a CP/M) BrainStorm model, you will notice the load time is longer than new models. To speed loading next time, make at least one change (even if you then delete it) and then save the file. This will force BrainStorm to save it in the new high speed Windows file format.

Once you have saved a model in the new format, it will no longer be readable by the DOS (or CP/M) versions of BrainStorm. Best to make a backup first.

Ctrl+O (for Open file)

File menu

*Notes on the PPT2TAB.ppa AddIn for Microsoft PowerPoint.

This converts the textual content of slides into a tabbed outline which can be read by a variety of programs. One of which, of course, is BrainStorm. BrainStorm treats the tabbed indents as successive levels.

On Windows XP, put it into the Microsoft AddIns directory:

[Drive:]/documents and settings/[user]/Application data/Microsoft/AddIns/

You may have to lower your security settings before you can install an AddIn

Open an empty PowerPoint presentation and go to Tools/Add-Ins/ then click on Add New and navigate to PPT2TAB.ppa

A new button will appear. It might show a pig icon or it might read PPT2TAB. With your PowerPoint file open, just click on the button, tell the program where you want the output file to be stored, press OK, and you're all done.

Then, in BrainStorm, select File/Open, choose 'All file types' then browse to the file you just saved.

If you don't like the pig, open Tools/Customize then right click on the pig and select Edit or Change


Getting slide notes out of PowerPoint is somewhat less easy. The workaround we use is to use Send to Word to put the PowerPoint and notes into Word, using links for the graphics. The result was a Word version of the presentation with smallish images. Share your screen between Word and BrainStorm, switch on Magic paste and simply promote each slide name in BrainStorm, then select and copy the notes from the Word document.