Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How mind maps are useful in testing?

I have been using mind maps since many months, but recently I started using them extensively using in test design, and test ideas. As visual presentation is more powerful than linear representation, I prefer using mind maps whereever I use multi level multiple bullet lists.

Earlier I used to write my test ideas as a linear list of bullet points. I found this approach is not much productive when system under test has integrations with multiple third party systems or system itself has lot of interfaces.

Mind maps are useful in Lean Test Design, where it can save a lot of time in documenting the test cases in test management tools. This technique is handy when I explain test ideas with peers and dev team. Dev team can use mind map created by tester as a checklist for sanity testing before delivering the code to test team. Mind map gives a quick snapshot of how entire system looks like, how quickly I can test the system.

In one of my projects, the system has integration with 4 external systems and all these systems are integrated with one another. I found designing tests and writing test cases in traditional model do not add value and also tough to visualize how all these systems are integrated. When I used mind map to represent the test design, more test ideas started flowing in and everyone in the team has more clarity on the system. More I use mind maps, I get more ideas and better the understanding of the system.

I will write more on mind mapping with examples in next blog post.

Tools: Open source desktop tools like FreeMind, XMind or web based tools like Mind Meister. I use XMind and Mind Meister in my work.

Further Help: Darren McMillan written excellent articles on using Mind Maps in Lean Test Design and other areas of application.


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