Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Mind Maps and Test Activities

In my previous post, I have described about mind Map and its usefulness. In this article I intend to discuss about how we can make use of Mind Map in our test activities. We can leverage the benefits that the Mind Maps offer, in many of our test phases like test planning, Test design, Problem solving,  developing tour during exploratory testing etc.

Plan your test using Mind Map

Test Planning is a phase when you plan your entire test activities for a particular release or a particular year/period. This is usually a large document in black and white. The Mind maps and its visual appearance can be put to use here. The whole planning activities can be depicted or drawn in a single sheet which increases the legibility of the entire document over the conventional approach.

Test design using Mind Map

The advantage of designing tests using mind maps is that the entire feature/functionality that has to be tested can be represented visually thereby giving insight into the various interconnections and hence giving rise to more test ideas.

Mind Map aids Problem Solving

Trouble shooting and problem solving have always been one of the major activities during the test lifecycle. One always does a brain storming session or discussions to analyze a given problem and then find a solution for it. In a conventional approach the brainstorming sessions and the results derived out of it are not structured and hence difficult to document. If you use a mind map during this process, you can structure out the ideas that come from the discussion even without losing the essence of brainstorming process. This document can be used for reference in the future also.

Gaining insight on complex subjects

Understanding and testing integrated scenarios and complex subjects are always a challenge especially during integration testing. Depict them using Mind map – give them a visual feel – and make your testing easy. It goes beyond saying that you can understand things more easily in pictorial form than in writing. Such mind map documents can be created for KT reference also.

Develop tours during exploratory testing from Mind Maps

Exploratory tests are talk of the town now. We understand the scenario and figure out which tour suits the best for it. If you have a Mind Map in place for a particular scenario, it would be easy for you to find out which is the best tour you can use for it.

To make it practical let me put all what I have said in a Mind map so that you can see for yourself.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mind Maps – An Overview

What is Mind Map?

The wiki says “A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information”. This technique was developed by Tony Buzan in late 60’s. Mind Maps generally have a central node from which various branches radiate. It facilitates natural thinking in a powerful graphical way. Mind map uses lines symbols, words, colors and images to depict ideas.
Mind Map was developed, after so much of research done on the working of our brain and its ability to grasp things. It was basically developed from the concept of radiant thinking. After the origin of Mind Maps various scientific researches confirmed its validity as a brain compatible thinking method. Tony Buzan argues that 'traditional' outlines require that the reader scans the information from left to right and top to bottom, whilst the brain's natural preference is to scan the entire page in a non-linear fashion.

How is it beneficial?

The great advantage of a Mind Map is that it literally "maps" the way your brain sees and creates connections. As Mind Maps are more visual and depicts associations with images and keywords they are much easier to recall and also understand. It helps us to see the whole picture – A bird’s eye view- thereby making it easier to understand the connections and links.
It works well during brainstorming, as it helps people associate the thoughts generated appropriately. Moreover using a Mind Map we can analyze these thoughts more effectively.

How to create Mind Map?

A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches. You can create Mind Map in plain white paper/whiteboard and some color pencils.
There are also many software tools available for creating Mind Maps. You can use those tools to create your Mind Map and share it with others as well as store it for future reference. Some tools available are blumind, FreeMind etc.

Some tips for creating Mind Maps

  • *      Use Images and symbols
  • *      Use Colors
  • *      Use single words instead of long sentences
  • *      Uses curved lines and make it colorful
  • *      Use Picture for the central node

In a Nutshell

As briefly overviewed Mind Maps are an excellent tool for learning and organizing ideas. They can be used for many activities like any design process, brainstorming, problem solving etc. The key point is that it is easy to learn new topics and easy to connect distant ideas using Mind maps.

In my next post I will share my thoughts on how we can make use of Mind Map for our test activities.
Meanwhile you can learn more about Mind Maps from the below links: