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Friday, January 20, 2006

Best Practices for Writing Use Cases

Are your use cases clear both for your users and for your developers ? Here are some tips:
  • Be careful with UML diagrams. Only use them for a high level model to show relationships between actors and use cases. Use case descriptions are textual
  • Main scenario 3-9 steps. Bird's eye view
  • No IF-statements, but main scenario's plus extensions
  • Brainstorm on goal failures
    • evaluate, eliminate, merge
  • Manage your energy: work breadth first
    • Actors and goals
    • Use case brief, main scenario
    • Failure conditions
    • Failure handling
  • Goal based, find the right goal. 3 levels: summary, user goals, subfunctions
  • What does the primary actor really want ?
  • WHY is this actor doing this step/goal ?
  • Write short, clear, easy to read use cases
    • Use cases are communication instruments
    • Customers/Users: Is it this what you want ?
    • Developers: Can you develop this ?
    • Like "Actors verbs the system", ie. Customer debets his account
  • Use Cases describe the functional requirements of a system, other requirements are described in supplementary specifications: performance, user interface requirements, IO formats, data formats, ...
With which of these tips can you improve your use cases ? Or do you have other tips ?

To learn more about writing use cases: Writing Effective Use Cases, by Alistair Cockburn, Addison-Wesley 2001.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Scott Sehlhorst said...

Great post about use case best practices! We recently published a series of posts on use cases, going into more detail about the different forms - formal, informal, UML. Here's a link to the introduction to the series on use cases.

I believe it complements what you've written and provides a good next step for your readers. I hope you'll take a look.

Keep writing, I'm enjoying what you're sharing with us.

Scott

Friday, January 27, 2006 5:35:00 AM  
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