Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tools & Tech - Mind Maps

Mind Mapping, brainstorming, spray diagrams... whatever name you use, the technique of displaying a large amount of interconnected information on an easily understandable diagram, is one to get a grips with.

The basic idea of Mind Maps is to write up and at the same time connect ideas, concepts and information. In doing so the information is made accessible and usable. For example, think of a car, now mentally break the car down into its main components, now think what individual pieces make those main components, repeat for the whole car. How would you present that information? A long list, bullet points? That’s a long set of lists and indented bullet points!

Take something we do every day in testing, decompose functionality of an application. We have the application itself, then its major functional areas, there may be sub-functions too and key behaviour that depends on the system state.

For example we have Website > Navigation, form, but also images and text, some of which is / is not visible/active when a user is logged in - it’s already hard to list just a few items, now try and relate test conditions;

·         Application
o   Form
§  Valid  / Invalid Data
·         When logged in or logged out
§   Error trapping
·         Pre and post submit
o   Navigation
§  Main items
·         Change on mouseover, onclick, postclick
§  Subitems
·         As per main items, but different colour

It already looks messy and hard to follow, you could number them and come up with a host of other ideas. It also doesn't lend itself to expansion and readability.


Mind Maps offer a simple way around this and done right can replace a surprising amount of documentation. Test Scripts or Cases might be expressed as a Mind Map, Exploratory test conditions and Test Diary might be combined on a Mind Map.

In the short video I show a few tools for Mind Mapping, all free and available for Windows or Mac.

Why not have a look and see how you can start using Mind Maps in your testing?



Tools & Tech - Mind Maps