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On writing use cases April 18, 2008

Posted by CK in Design, IT.
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I recently had to design a use case template for a project I’m working on. This should be filled in by non-IT people, though eventually the consolidated results would be provided to IT people. I run back to Alistair Cockburn‘s “Writing Effective Use Cases“, which I had bought during a recent trip to the US but never got around actually reading it.

The author has done a great job with this book. In a very short period of time, using eventually a slightly modified example from the first pages of the book, I managed to have this template very quickly (I practically only skimmed through the book). It turns out that it was very easy for the audience to understand its structure and fill it in. Apart from making this specific task far too easy for me, Alistair Cockburn has managed in this book to set apart the various concepts and ideas which must be materialized before implementing or customizing an application: Use cases, Requirements, Test cases, etc. There’s a fine level of formality and granularity that a use case description needs to have, and there are no patterns for that other than the author’s intuition about what the audience can provide solid replies to. One doesn’t fit all, and the author makes a good job pointing this out and offering advice on coming up with what is the fittest under specific circumstances.

A highly-recommended book.