Using Mind Mapping Techniques in Software Testing

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Our brain is more capable of processing and recalling visuals than written words. A visual image brings quick clarity and understanding in ways that descriptive words cannot. Mind Map is a tool that takes advantage of this fact to pictorially organize and present information.

Mind Mapping in Software Testing

A Mind Map is a graphical representation of an idea or concept. In terms of testing, a Mind Map uses symbols, colors, lines and images to represent the various phases of testing followed by activities under each phase. In short, a Mind Map shows a visual representation of the testing function in its entirety and provides a creative way to logically plan the testing.

Mind Maps drawn through tools can have notes, links, nodes that can be unfolded and folded, zoomed and searched. All these make the Mind Map versatile and allow to add more details into the map.

Mind Maps can be used in variety of testing activities like requirements analysis, test design, test planning, measuring test coverage etc. They can also be used at granular level like validation of a test case or depicting the steps of a complex test case.

How to create a sample testing Mind Map?

  • Draw the main idea or subject in the centre, for ex: Test Plan for project XYZ
  • Draw branches radiating from the centre to represent the various themes under the main idea, for example, the various test activities like unit testing, functional testing, test environment set up, preparing test status reports etc. Each branch can now be further split to twigs that represent activities that need to be performed under each
  • Keep sentences in each branch short to reduce verbiage. Use color coding to group objects and also to differentiate critical tasks from non-critical ones
  • One thing to keep in mind is that the Mind Map is supposed to pictorially represent a theme for quicker understanding. Hence, it does not help if it is too elaborate and heavy on information
  • If need be, items in the main Mind Map that are too descriptive can be moved to a separate Mind Map
  • Mind Maps need adequate brainstorming with all stakeholders to ensure their completeness and correctness.
  • Free mind mapping tools available in the market make it easy to arrange information in a logical manner with sub-functions nested under the main functions in nodes which can be expanded and collapsed. This makes the diagram clutter-free. Xmind and Free Mind are two popular open source mind mapping tools.

 

Benefits of using Mind Maps in Testing

Better Test planning: Drawing a mind map helps to visualize the series of tasks that need to be done as part of the testing. Draw an initial mind map, discuss it with stakeholders and add/remove tasks as required. The final mind map represents the final scope of your testing and can become a direct input for task planning. Doing this ensures no test activity is inadvertently missed out.

Testing Traceability: Mind maps can be drawn to include requirements and those requirements can be linked to corresponding test cases. This ensures adequate test coverage and also makes it easy to verify test results.

Monitor testing progress: Mind maps make it easy to track the progress of testing and assess the health of the project. Management can easily review the test plan to assess if testing has progressed as planned and also get a quick view of pending activities.

 

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