Patterns for Writing Effective Use Cases

Steve Adolph, WSA Consulting Inc.

Use cases are a wonderfully simple concept: document a system's functional requirements by writing down scenarios about how using it delivers value to its actors. However, writing effective use cases is more difficult than expected because you frequently must deal with difficult questions, such as: scope, level of detail needed for different people and projects, how to describe external interfaces, stored data, and more. You need a source of objective criteria to judge use case quality and effectiveness. Fill this critical information gap with a pattern language that provides simple, elegant, and proven solutions to common problems in use case development. Take away these use case patterns and profit from the knowledge and experience of other successful use case writers. And develop a new vocabulary for describing the properties of quality use cases.

  • The "signs of quality" and properties of a good use case
  • Patterns to diagnose common use case problems
  • A vocabulary for describing effective use cases

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