Mind mapping in software testing

A mind map is a graphical representation of an idea, concept or thought. It’s very easy to start creating mind maps. You don’t have to have any specific knowledge about it and you don’t have to use any tools. The mind map can be created even on a scrap of paper but these digital ones are easier to maintain.

As it was proven, visuals are way easier for people to understand, interact and remember than a plain text. Mind maps are great for any creative work that has to be written down. It helps divide a problem into a smaller parts.

Use of mind mapping

Searching on the internet for mind map use cases brings lots of results and ideas. It can help to explain and visualize almost any problem with any complexity. From the rules of tennis through the division of literature types to the project tasks responsibility. It depends just on you (and your team if you collaborate in mind mapping) how you design your maps, how detailed they will be and how you will approach a problem. That’s, in my opinion, the main advantage of mind maps – they are easy and flexible.

It is proven, that mind maps increase creativity, make problem-solving easier and help better understand the problem.

So, why not to use it in software testing? If it’s so flexible it should also add a value to my daily testing exercises. I’ve decided to use mind mapping to prepare test cases for one task in my company’s software testing arena. which . ASTA is a dedicated environment to learn automated testing. It has 10 exercises with popular functionalities from web applications, e.g. e-commerce basket, login and register forms with file uploads.

For this purpose, I chose task 3, which is a simple form with a file upload as you can see on the picture above.

I started creating a mind map for this task with writing its name in the center of a page. Why in the centre? Because it gives your brain an impression, that everything you create can spread in any direction and it has no boundaries. It’s even advised to start with an image or a sketch of the thing that will be brainstormed. In this case, you could prepare some high-level mockup of this form (e.g. using MockFlow) or just make a screenshot of this form.

It took me 5 minutes to find easy to use free SaaS app and create this mockup above. It allows to have this form that is under testing always in front of your eyes and its simplicity gives no distractions from the object of interest.

Going further…

Next, I decided to divide this task into the types of testing that should be performed (e.g. performance, functional) and also point out what is not going to be tested. This helps to have all necessary information in one place so you don’t have to jump in mind from thinking about testing and the product specification and test requirements. That’s the second great advantage of mind maps. You can have everything in one place and accessible.

So, I’ve decided to have this top-level division:

  • Performance tests
  • Functional tests
  • Security tests
  • Mobile tests
  • and out-of-scope items

Each of this item is connected via colorful curved lines to the center of an image. Why colorful and curved? Because our brains hate boredom. And the colors also help us memorize things better by using associations.

Now we have a very high-level division that doesn’t give us anything special but now is the time to divide each of this top-levels to smaller parts. For example split performance tests to stress tests, load tests and page load times tests. After that to each test I associated items to be tested and a way how it’s going to be tested.

Repeating this activity for all top-level items give us a whole mind map that shows the approach for testing one particular function in our application. I found it to be a great approach for preparing to test. It is fast, easy, very easily accessible and, what’s most important, it’s fun! You can use this mind map also to share with your team, project manager, project owner or anyone interested in your test approach. By using mind maps and its division and connections you can spot testing gaps very easily because it gives a lot of information with a very little overhead when comparing to ordinary test cases in a plain text.

Finished mind map