Writing Effective Use Cases

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Use cases have never been this easy to understand — or this easy to create! In Writing Effective Use Cases, Alistair Cockburn offers a hands-on, soup-to-nuts guide to use case development, based on the proven concepts he has refined through years of research, development, and seminar presentations. Cockburn begins by answering the most basic questions facing anyone interested in use cases: "What does a use case look like? When do I write one?" Next, he introduces each key element of use cases: actors, stakeholders, design scope, goal levels, scenarios, and more. Writing Effective Use Cases contains detailed guidelines, formats, and project standards for creating use cases — as well as a detailed chapter on style, containing specific do's and don'ts. Cockburn shows how use cases fit together with requirements gathering, business processing reengineering, and other key issues facing software professionals. The book includes practice exercises with solutions, as well as a detailed appendix on how to use these techniques with UML. For all application developers, object technology practitioners, software system designers, architects, and analysts.

Product Details

  • 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 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

Customer Reviews

The power of providing real-world examples

53 people found this helpful.
 on May 22, 2001
By aharnden
If there’s one book that can be credited with popularizing use cases, this is it. Alistair Cockburn shares his applied knowledge in `Writing Effective Use Cases’ and does so in a very digestible format. This is a handbook, a self-study guide – one full of real-world examples and exercises (with solutions even!) that any analyst or designer can relate to.

Use cases done right – sensible and effective approach

99 people found this helpful.
 on June 30, 2001
By Mike Tarrani
Finally! A book that corrects the numerous problems with use cases – or shall I say the mis use of use cases (no pun intended). Here are some common problems that this book will help you to avoid (there are many more, but these spring immediately to mind):


39 people found this helpful.
 on October 12, 2001
By Peter Dee
This book is filled with both information and examples on how to build use cases to do what they absolutely have to do — communicate the requirements for software behavior to all involved stakeholders. While Cockburn is perhaps too quick in de-emphasizing most aspects of visual modeling, he is very correct in stating that the model is a small part of the story of the software to be. Happily, Cockburn does not focus much on elicitation techniques (as many other books of its ilk do); frankly, elicitation is probably mostly unteachable and certainly a manner of personal style. Instead, the author focuses on how to distill elicited information into written material that will actually move the project forward.

Will change the way you approach processes and requirements

50 people found this helpful.
 on March 26, 2001
By Linda Zarate
My background is not software engineering – it’s service delivery and process development. I got this book on a strong recommendation from my mentor because one of my techniques, information mapping, has some gaps when it comes to portraying processes. I had heard of use cases before getting the book, but paid little attention to them.

Effective Knowledge Transfer

30 people found this helpful.
 on December 3, 2000
By Jerry M.
This book takes the task of writing use cases and provides a set of processes and templates that you can use yourself when you need to define requirements for a software project. The author provides many tips and suggestions that you can apply as well as some real world examples from actual projects. There are different approaches talked about which you can choose from, depending on how detailed you can afford to make your use cases. I immediately created a word template based on some of the examples presented in the book…very useful for creating your own process to use when writing use cases. There’s also a lot of very useful tips presented throughout the text (along with examples of poor use cases and how to correct them).

This cuts through all the .. different perspectives.

52 people found this helpful.
 on June 26, 2001
By Eamon Dowling
‘A Use Case is a prose essay’ — great summary, from a great book.

Understanding the principles behind writing use cases

22 people found this helpful.
 on May 5, 2002
By Celia Redmore
I had been looking at the value of writing use cases for some time, but hadn’t done so because I couldn’t visualize clearly how they added value or what was the best format, text or symbols. “Writing Effective Use Cases” answered my specific questions, which is why I’m adding a 26th review to the 25 excellent previous ones.

This Book Will Help

22 people found this helpful.
 on June 20, 2004
By R. Carpenter
I had never heard of Use Cases until taking a class in Systems Analysis and Development. So I went to Amazon and did a search for books on Use Cases and saw that this one was rated quite high. I believe I read all the customer reviews. I don’t understand how most everyone can give a 5 star rating and one person gives it a 1 star rating.

A book of substance, written for the busy

27 people found this helpful.
 on November 7, 2000
By E. Cancelada
About a year ago I came across the manuscript of Alistair’s book and, as they say, THE BULB WENT ON in my head.

Bring Your Whole Family Into The Requirements Process

19 people found this helpful.
 on February 8, 2002
By David Gurgel
Suppose you have a team of new people, quite technical, but none practiced in developing software requirements. You need something to formalize the process. Somewhat bewildered by all of the UML and other modeling methods that are available, you decide that use cases are easy to understand, the methodology quite easily learned and particularly applicable to the workflow application that you have to design. You’ve got the Jacobson early books but need something that you can hand out and say, “This is our standard for use cases. We start next week on getting our software requirements done formally.”

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