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Mind Mapping and the Software Development Life Cycle

Submitted by on December 16, 2006 – 1:09 pm 12,810 views 10 Comments

  I’ve recently started looking into how mind mapping is used in the software/system development life cycle. One of my passions (and profession) is software design and development. Since I started mind mapping a few years ago, I’ve been slowly introducing mind maps at my current job.

I began using mind maps (courtesy of Mindjet’s MindManager Pro) to help streamline the process of researching new technologies and products. I discovered that this technique was much more efficient than trying to use traditional bookmarks (or del.icio.us for that matter), or knowledge managers (like General Knowledge Base or DevonThink). And, I could quickly share with others, without needing to create a separate document to summarize my findings.

Over time I increased my usage of mind maps to encompass capturing meeting notes, product requirements, and technical design discussions. Although I wouldn’t typically use mind mapping techniques during any whiteboard sessions, I would capture meeting notes afterwards and convert to a mind map. When sharing maps with others, I would upload to our intranet in both MindManager format and export as HTML for people who hadn’t yet downloaded the mind map viewer.

As a whole, I would say the feedback and general acceptance of using mind maps for our projects has been very positive. On numerous occasions, team members would still be consulting the maps even months after a meeting had taken place. And, I personally think that reviewing the mind maps after a tradional meeting/whiteboard session can really improve communication and recall of the information later on.

I became curious as to how other individuals and organizations are using mind maps in their development process. After reading Chuck Frey’s excellent Mind Mapping Survey, I discovered that a large percentage of the survey respondents (500 people in total) are using mind mapping for project planning (52%) and business process mapping (30%). And, of the people that listed their mind map use as “other” (9%), there was mention of documenting software requirements, and software development and modeling.

I decided to start Googling on this topic and came up with some interesting results. The following are some links and resources related to the use of mind maps in various phases of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle).

Investigation/Feasibility/Planning

Mind-mapping tools are finding a home in corporate IT
http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=112247

Using mind mapping software for web research
http://mindmapping.typepad.com/the_mind_mapping_software/2006/10/using_mind_mapp.html

Turning systems models into projects
(Related to ORM – Outcome Relationship Model)
http://duffill.blogs.com/beyond_crayons/2006/07/turning_systems.html

Funnel timeline: A visual approach to project planning
http://mindmapping.typepad.com/the_mind_mapping_software/2006/12/funnel_timeline.html

Project estimating – Mindmaps are a tool in the armory
http://www.mind-mapping.org/mindmapping-for-project-management/project-estimating-with-mindmaps.html

How to use mind mapping software for project management
http://www.innovationtools.com/Articles/ArticleDetails.asp?a=148

Mind Mapping and Project Management
http://www.mindmappingstrategies.com/project-management.aspx

Mind maps provide a view for collaboration
http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=112247

Analysis

Agile Modeling with Mind Map and UML (StickyMinds Article)
http://www.stickyminds.com/testandevaluation.asp?Function=edetail&ObjectId=11861&ObjectType=ART

Utilizing Mind Maps for Essential Use Case Specification
PPT (PowerPoint)
HTML

MindManager for Software Development: Part 2 – Requirements Gathering
http://mindjetlabs.com/cs/blogs/synergist/archive/2006/11/07/MindManager-for-Software-Development_3A00_-Part-2-_2D00_-Requirements-Gathering.aspx

Design

Sharp Development – Mind Mapping for OOAD (Object-Oriented Analysis and Design)
http://www.sharpdevelopment.com/MindMapping/MindMappingForOOAD/MindMappingForOOAD.htm

Agile Modeling with Mind Map and UML
PDF
HTML

UML Modeling Tool – JUDE
(Convert Mind Maps to UML)
http://jude.change-vision.com/jude-web/product/professional.html#mindmap_convert

Coding

Generative Programming with MindManager and XSLT
http://blog.mindjet.com/2005/12/generative-programming-with-mindmanager-and-xslt

Testing

Mind Maps Foster Thorough Test Design
http://www.infoq.com/news/2006/11/test-design-mind-map
Original Article

Mind Mapping for Test Planning
http://www.sharpdevelopment.com/MindMapping/MindMappingForTestPlanning/MindMappingForTestPlanning.htm

Implementation/Integration

MindManager for Software Development: Part 1 – Help Authoring
http://mindjetlabs.com/cs/blogs/synergist/archive/2006/10/07/MindManager-for-Software-Development_3A00_-Part-1-_2D00_-Help-Authoring.aspx

In the near future, as mind mapping becomes more mainstream, I can imagine that various mind mapping techniques and products will be used to streamline the software development process. Personally, I think it would be a great use of time to come up with a set of common mind map templates for use in software development projects. Something along the lines of ReadySet, or Steve McConnell’s Software Project Survival Guide templates. This sounds like a great pet project for 2007.

In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing any feedback on how individuals or organizations are currently using mind maps in their development process.

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