Frequently Asked Questions

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Apparent problems

History of DANA

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If you have a software problem (e.g., error messages like "Index out of bounds"), please contact me. If you obtain analysis results that seem to be incorrect, or if you have questions regarding the DANA method or software, feel free to mail me as well, but please do so after verifying that the information on this web site does not provide the explanation you seek.


How do I change the name of a concept?
To rename a case or an arena, select it in the arena pane and (calmly) click it again. Windows will open a small editing pane that allows you to modify the name. Finish by pressing the Enter key. Instead of clicking a concept twice, you can also select it and then choose the main menu option Case|Rename concept.
To rename an actor or a factor, you must switch to "dictionary mode" first and then follow the above procedure. This will rename the concept throughout the entire case. If you want to change the name of a factor in one perception only, you will have to delete it from the perception graph and add a factor with the new name.

How do I format comment text?
DANA does not support rich text for comments, so comments are stored as plain text in the DANA case.htm file. But if you really want to make comment texts look better when your case is viewed in a regular browser, you can insert HTML tags to make text come out in <b>bold face</b> or <i>italics</i>, or to force a line break (with <br>).

How do I print a single diagram?
By pasting it into some Windows document (e.g., Word or PowerPoint) and then print this document. Click on the Copy button of the DANA case window; this will place a metafile on the Windows clipboard. Go to your Windows document and select Paste Special and then select the format "Enhanced Windows Metafile". You may need to modify its size (call up the Picture toolbar and select the Crop button) and possibly improve its quality (see below). Then print the document.

How do I prioritize goals?
A goal reflects how an actor values a change in a factor. Goal priority in DANA is inferred from the utilities associated with each possible change. Double-click on a factor and the goal dialog should appear. Click on the change the actor values most. Underneath, a smiley appears to indicate "medium" utility. All the other changes automatically get a utility that is less than "medium". You can change the highest utility using the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard: Up will increase it, Down will decrease it. Note that when you go Down several times, the goal type changes from a desirable change to an undesirable change, i.e., a change with negative utility.

How do I make a prospect or link uncertain?
Select the factor and click on the prospect button, or double-click on the link. The change dialog should appear, showing the seven possible changes. Click on the change you consider most likely to occur. Underneath, the figure "100%" appears against a dark gray background. You can change the uncertainty using the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard: Up will increase the uncertainty, Down will decrease it.

How do I define and evaluate a specific strategy?
If you want to evaluate a particular combination of tactics, you can define these tactics by Ctrl-clicking on one of the seven changes in the range bar of each of the actions in a perception graph. The selected change will be highlighted in purple like this: . To unselect, Ctrl-click on the change again. To evaluate, open the Analysis dialog, select the actor level property Inferred Strategies, and check the Chosen field.

Can't change default goals, prospects or links
Indeed, this is not yet possible. You will have to wait and see if the next DANA version will support customized utilities and probabilities.

Can't load a downloaded DANA case, even though it looks OK in my web browser
Unfortunately, most browsers modify HTML pages slightly. Sometimes, comments are left out or tags are changed (e.g., converted to upper case, or extended with extra attributes). When you save a file using your browser, these changes make that the file does not have the exact format that DANA requires. To prevent DANA from getting stuck while reading a case file, make sure you have an original DANA case.htm file on your computer. To download from the Web, use the Find folder dialog to surf to a published case. DANA retrieves the "raw" HTML code and thus avoids the conversion problem.

Can't change the size of factors in a perception graph
DANA automatically creates shapes that will be large enough to contain the name of the factor and additional symbols for actions, prospects, and goals. But you have some control over the way in which long factor names are broken into lines: To avoid a line break at a space, replace the space by an underscore (_).

Can't search for items or comments
Indeed, DANA has no search features. For most editing purposes, the drop-down lists for arenas, actors and factors should suffice. If you need to search a case for a particular phrase, I suggest that you open the DANA case.htm file with your standard web browser and use its search functions instead.

When clicking on the link HERE in the mail I received from the DANA web site, I get a message "Your access code is invalid or has expired"
This can happen when the security settings of your web browser are such that it asks you for permission to download files. This way, it follows the link twice, while the access code will work only once. To prevent this from happening, you should configure your web browser to accept downloads from the DANA web site (

When starting DANA, I get an error: "Failed to register DANA in Windows registry"
This error occurs when you have no write access to the Windows registry. This should not occur when you are working on your own computer, but some network administrators disallow writing to the registry to prevent people from installing their own software. Fortunately, this will cause only slight inconvenience. DANA uses the registry only to store information on where you have located your DANA folder and which folder you accessed last. If DANA cannot write this information to the registry, it will always use the default value C:\DANA.

When opening a case, I get an error: "Invalid DANA case file"
This can happen when you click the OK button of the Find folder dialog before the case is completely loaded in its  browser pane. Navigate to the case folder (or case web page) once more, wait to see the case appear in the browser pane, scroll down all the way to the bottom. There you should see the end of the case marked by two successive horizontal rules. If these are visible, the case has been (down)loaded completely, and you can click the OK button.

When selecting an actor view, I get an error: "Invalid parameter"
This error message is generated by Windows when it tries to draw an image that is too big to display. You may be able to prevent it by changing the display settings of your computer (with the Windows Control Panel) to a lower color quality. The preferred color quality for DANA is true colors, but this requires a lot of memory. Alternatively, you can make your perception diagrams smaller, for example by condensing their layout and/or choosing a smaller font. Then select Case|Options from the main menu and enter lower values for the diagram dimensions. This will reduce the size of the bitmaps that DANA needs when drawing the perception graphs.

DANA takes forever to load a case - I have to end the task using the Windows Task Manager!
DANA saves a case according to a strict format. If you edit a case file with an HTML editor, this usually adds a lot of additional HTML code, but even small changes can be enough to confuse DANA. Therefore, only open original DANA case.htm files!

DANA does not display the entire diagram!
This may happen when the diagram height and width have been changed to lower values. You can increase the diagram size in the dialog that appears when you select Case|Options in the main menu.

Tag colors do not come out right!
This problem may be caused by your computer's display settings. If all tags look gray, look closely to see whether the "eyes" of the tags have the color you chose. If so, use the Windows Control Panel to change the display setting of your computer to display true colors.

Images do not show!
When the images do not show in the analysis pane or in the Find folder dialog, this means that the GIF folder associated with the case is missing. This can happen when you have created a new case or opened a case that you received from some other user. Save the case (it is while saving that DANA (re)creates the GIF folder and its images) and when you view the case or the analysis results again, the images should appear.

After pasting, the picture does not look nice!
A first solution may be to double-click on the picture in your Word document and then close it. Usually, this will make the line graphics look smoother. However, it may be that the text in the factors is distorted. It seems that Word does not convert metafiles too well. As a workaround, I usually paste to a PowerPoint document first. There it seems to work OK. Again, you should double-click on the image. PowerPoint will prompt you to convert the figure. Click Yes, and PowerPoint will break up the figure in its separate components. To avoid messing up your diagram, immediately group them using the Draw|Group menu option. If you like, you can now easily change the font using the Format|Font menu option. Then copy the figure and paste it into your Word document.

When was DANA first conceived?
The original idea dates back to 1996. At that time, the interdisciplinary MSc program on Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management that was (and still is) my vocation, was developing. Multi-actor systems, unstructured policy problems, and complex decision making processes are at the core of this program. Being trained as computer scientist at Leiden University, I felt an urge to bring some more rigor in the methods for actor network analysis that we teach our students. Two of my colleagues at that time quickly shared my enthusiasm about developing DANA: policy scientist Mark van Twist especially liked the idea of capturing divergent perceptions to study strategic actor behavior, hidden agendas, and other political aspects, while econometrician and transport expert Ron van Duin saw DANA as a useful tool to support the design of multi-stakeholder logistic systems. Once I acquired funding for the EPSILON project in the fall of 1997, we could spend some serious time on DANA. During the project, which lasted until the summer of 2000, the three of us have had many inspiring discussions, which invariably ended in still more features to be implemented in DANA by me, the computer scientist.

What does the DANA logo stand for?
The logo symbolizes an actor network. The three nodes represent actors, the connecting circle their interactions and dependencies. Obviously, when it is also to be used as a 32x32 pixel icon, a logo should be highly stylized. The triangular arrangement of circles is easily to recognize. When devising the logo, I wanted to somehow depict actors as autonomous minds having their own thoughts. The primary colors red, green and blue refer to the sheer endless variety of colors they can generate. If you look closely at the logo, you'll see that the nodes actually attempt to depict dark globes with a spirit-like figure inside. Larger versions can be found on the DANA Community page. You are welcome to use them whenever you present work you did with DANA.

Haven't I seen DANA before?
Indeed you may have. The first DANA prototype was delivered in 2000 at the close of the EPSILON project, which was part of the Dutch Land Water Milieu Informatietechnologie research program. The work on DANA that I did with Mark van Twist and Ron van Duin has been published on various conferences (see the DANA bibliography), and the first DANA prototype has been used by MSc students and PhD students in their research.

Why are there so few articles on DANA?
Various reasons, but they all boil down to a well-known problem: lack of resources. Other (funded!) research projects required my attention, and between the fall of 2000 and the spring of 2004, I had to devote much of my time to management tasks in my function as Associate Dean of Education of our faculty. As a result, I had no time to further develop the DANA software. The DANA prototype delivered in 2000 was far from mature, and this impeded its use by others. It supported the formal representation of actor networks and perception graphs, but the number of queries that could be performed was quite limited. As a result, there have been but a few applied actor network analysis projects, while the conceptual innovation of DANA (the capability of automated multi-actor problem analysis) remained underarticulated, untried, and by consequence unpublished.

Last update 2007-12-28