- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (October 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201702258
- ISBN-13: 978-0201702255
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 81 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Writing Effective Use Cases 1st Edition
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Alistair Cockburn's Writing Effective Use Cases is an approachable, informative, and very intelligent treatment of an essential topic of software design. "Use cases" describe how "actors" interact with computer systems and are essential to software-modeling requirements. For anyone who designs software, this title offers some real insight into writing use cases that are clear and correct and lead to better and less costly software.
The focus of this text is on use cases that are written, as opposed to modeled in UML. This book may change your mind about the advantages of writing step-by-step descriptions of the way users (or actors) interact with systems. Besides being an exceptionally clear writer, the author has plenty to say about what works and what doesn't when it comes to creating use cases. There are several standout bits of expertise on display here, including excellent techniques for finding the right "scope" for use cases. (The book uses a color scheme in which blue indicates a sea-level use case that's just right, while higher-level use cases are white, and overly detailed ones are indigo. Cockburn also provides notational symbols to document these levels of detail within a design.)
This book contains numerous tips on the writing style for use cases and plenty of practical advice for managing projects that require a large number of use cases. One particular strength lies in the numerous actual use cases (many with impressive detail) that are borrowed from real-world projects, and demonstrate both good and bad practices. Even though the author expresses a preference for the format of use cases, he presents a variety of styles, including UML graphical versions. The explanation of how use cases fit into the rest of the software engineering process is especially good. The book concludes with several dozen concrete tips for writing better use cases.
Software engineering books often get bogged down in theory. Not so in Writing Effective Use Cases, a slender volume with a practical focus, a concise presentation style, and something truly valuable to say. This book will benefit most anyone who designs software for a living. --Richard Dragan
From the Back Cover
Writing use cases as a means of capturing the behavioral requirements of software systems and business processes is a practice that is quickly gaining popularity. Use cases provide a beneficial means of project planning because they clearly show how people will ultimately use the system being designed. On the surface, use cases appear to be a straightforward and simple concept. Faced with the task of writing a set of use cases, however, practitioners must ask: "How exactly am I supposed to write use cases?" Because use cases are essentially prose essays, this question is not easily answered, and as a result, the task can become formidable.
In Writing Effective Use Cases, object technology expert Alistair Cockburn presents an up-to-date, practical guide to use case writing. The author borrows from his extensive experience in this realm, and expands on the classic treatments of use cases to provide software developers with a "nuts-and-bolts" tutorial for writing use cases. The book thoroughly covers introductory, intermediate, and advanced concepts, and is, therefore, appropriate for all knowledge levels. Illustrative writing examples of both good and bad use cases reinforce the author's instructions. In addition, the book contains helpful learning exercises--with answers--to illuminate the most important points.
Highlights of the book include:
- A thorough discussion of the key elements of use cases--actors, stakeholders, design scope, scenarios, and more
- A use case style guide with action steps and suggested formats
- An extensive list of time-saving use case writing tips
- A helpful presentation of use case templates, with commentary on when and where they should be employed
- A proven methodology for taking advantage of use cases
With this book as your guide, you will learn the essential elements of use case writing, improve your use case writing skills, and be well on your way to employing use cases effectively for your next development project.
Top customer reviews
Whenever I am introduced to a modeling tool (UML would be another example for me) I always end up wondering what to put and what to leave out of the model I am building for the problem at hand. This book does not give you a specific answer (who would want a solution that would only apply to only a limited set of problems? I did not, at least for the project I used this book for), it gives you the very essence of the criteria you should apply to include something or not.
By comparing this book to the other ones, this is superior because it does not provide a specific framework with esoteric descriptions about how Use Cases evolve throughout the project life cycle. It describes the purpose of writing use cases: describing a goal of some importance to an actor.
So many times I have read these 'Use Cases' that describe a system in terms of people pushing buttons, changing values in some UI and end up describing the system in terms of CRUD operations not descriptive by any means. If, after all, most 'Enterprise Systems' built are just fancy and costly web-versions of SELECT, INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE statements executed against a database, how informative can be use cases that only say a system INSERTS/UPDATES/DELETES/QUERIES data in a database? By describing a user goal, all database operations (and many other interactions with any back-end systems) start making sense. I have found that we human beings are so good at 'filling out the blanks' that some of these operations might even sound obvious at times.
This book will guide you during the writing of your use cases, keep them at consistent levels of abstraction and, more important, at all times highlight the ultimate goal your user wants to achieve by executing a use case.
If you really want to complement the topics in this book, consider the perfect companion 'Patterns for Effective Use Cases'.
I must say that this book could make even someone new like me, being new to Use Cases, look good. The Table of Contents makes it easy to find an overall view of Use Case topics and the Index breaks it down in great detail. The book is described by the author as a book that is, "predominately aimed at industry professionals who read and study alone, and is therefore organized as a self-study guide." I like that.
If you are looking for a book for a class, such as the one I took, or just want to look good at work to describe a process, behavioral requirements, or software development, surely this book could help you too.
That's what I did. Bought one copy for myself. Got through the 270 well-written pages quickly and quickly ordered a copy for the other three members of the team.
The use-case methodology outlined is text-based with only the simplest graphics. If you like the more graphical methodology for use cases found in UML standard, you won't adopt this book as your company standard but will still gain valuable insight in use case analysis. At least pass it on to the business guys on the team so they have some clue on how to think about requirements.