Are you someone who has heard of mind maps and always wondered what it is? You tried your hand at one and couldn’t figure out how to apply it to your context. You have arrived at the right spot. This article intends to dive deep into mind maps and demonstrate how to use them for software testing. So, free your mind and enjoy the ride.
Let us start with the fundamentals: “What is a mind map”. A mind map is a visual representation of an idea. It has a central node called the parent and all the other nodes are called child nodes. What is the fun of learning about mind maps without a mind map? Here you go.
What is a mind map?
Mind maps have been in existence for many years still they are not as popular as they should be, among the software testing community. The mind maps can be used in almost every stage of a software testing release:
- Requirement Analysis
- Test Design
- Test Execution
- Bug Hunting, Investigation, Analysis
- Test Reporting
Before we dive deep into why one should use mind maps extensively, let us understand the current scenario and why they are ineffective. We, humans, don’t think in lists or a linear manner, yet we linearly document most of our understanding. While brainstorming, not everyone thinks about the same topic at the same time with similar intensity. Our brains are wired to think non-linear and make connections in an instant. Instead of using a format to capture the explosion of ideas, we force our brains to adapt to the format.
For example, if I ask everyone to write down their first three thoughts when they hear the phrase – “Reduce production issues”, I bet that each one will come up with totally different ideas.
As a notetaker, trying to capture all of these ideas in a format like lists or docs will be counterproductive for at least two reasons:
- It is highly time-consuming to switch sections, edit, think which point will fall under which topic, and also worry about the formatting
- It is limiting for the thinker as well as they need to wait till the notetaker has completed capturing the points conveyed so far.
Compare this with a mind map and as and when the topics are highlighted, it is a matter of just one keypress to create a node and add the point. The notetaker doesn’t slow down the thinker. Formatting, and arranging the nodes is easy, especially with shortcuts.
XMind 8 shortcuts:
Enter – To create a new node
Tab – To create a subnode
Ctrl + C / V – Copy / Paste
Ctrl + S – Save
Ctrl + B – To create a boundary around a node (green rectangle effect)
A Tester’s New Year Resolutions
Mind Map.mov We need to show this as a movie within the article. It is 7 mins long. It could be 1.25x the speed too.
Let us now focus on how to use mind maps at every phase of software testing with an example from OrangeHRM – Requirements Module.
Analysis of the “Recruitment” Module
As you can observe, a simple paragraph has been dissected and multiple chains of thoughts are captured. We can also link similar thoughts.
Modeling an Application
Modeling Swiggy App
You can learn more about Systematic Product Modeling through this Worqference video – https://www.thetesttribe.com/courses/worqference-2022-15-workshops-recording-bundle/
We can use mind maps to model any application, note down its visible features, mark the interdependencies, chart out the data flow, and highlight the interfaces.
We could duplicate the feature map and add test ideas as nodes for the specific feature.
For the same map, we could use it for execution and update the results as shown below
Similarly, mind maps can be used for multiple tasks in testing.
If you want to analyze all the existing bugs in a project, you could note all the bugs in a mind map, group them and also connect similar bugs.
Though there are no rules for mind maps, there are a few common mistakes that you can avoid:
- Many nodes
Instead of having many nodes, group nodes logically.
- Long sentences like this stretch the map and make the map look small
Ensure that the sentences are divided into two lines.
- Add more details than necessary
Remember that maps are not detailed documents. These are used to help connect the dots quickly. So, use phrases.
- Make it bland – no colors, no icons, no images
Avoid that. It is boring. One can also use colors/icons to differentiate states, status, or any other parameter.
- Unbalanced maps – More nodes on one side compared to other
Move the nodes so that the overall map is not skewed to one side and it looks balanced.
- Export in mind map format and not in png/pdf
This is a classic mind map 101 mistake. People start assuming that the whole world uses mind maps and expects them to open the mind map in the right application. Instead, export the mind map to an image/pdf and share it with others.
- No conventions used
Start using the legend and keep all nodes consistent with the overall conventions.
Useful Tips and Tricks
- Create a central node, Press Insert & Enter
- Create outline on paper first
- Learn shortcuts
- Save regularly or switch ‘Autosave’ on
- Try to fit the map on a single page
- Use Multi-line sentences
- Use themes and maintain consistency
- Keep practicing
There are many tools available on Desktops, the web, mobile, and tablets. Here are some of them:
My favorite is XMind 8 even though there are the latest versions like XMind 2020 with features like Pitch, and Zen Mode.
Once you start using mind maps, you will love them and enjoy the freedom of thinking and note-taking simultaneously. You will save a lot of time, and effort and collaborate effectively. There are multiple resources created by the community. Get inspired and inspire the community.