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Use Cases. High-level system description. System description. Typical description has two parts data operations on that data Three possible descriptions requirements specification design. Many notations. UML Use cases Class diagram State diagram Hamlet and Maybee

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use cases

Use Cases

High-level system description

system description
System description
  • Typical description has two parts
    • data
    • operations on that data
  • Three possible descriptions
    • requirements
    • specification
    • design


many notations
Many notations
  • UML
    • Use cases
    • Class diagram
    • State diagram
  • Hamlet and Maybee
    • Finite state machine, Data flow diagram
    • Prolog
    • Pseudocode


many purposes
Many purposes
  • Communicate to
    • User
    • Developers
    • Boss
  • Complete - lots of detail
  • Easy to read - less detail


writing effective use cases
Writing Effective Use Cases
  • Alistair Cockburn
  • Know the inside cover, front and back
    • papers
    • discussion boards


use case diagram
Use case diagram
  • Shows actors and use cases
  • Shows system scope and boundaries
  • Not a description of use cases
  • Like a context diagram


scd for claims processing
SCD for Claims Processing

Claim adjudicator

Data entry

Data repair

Electronic claim

Claims Processing




Postal System

Postal System


use cases1
Use Cases
  • Text - a form of writing.
  • Describes the system’s behavior as it responds to a request from an actor.
  • Many kinds of use cases
    • Brief / detailed
    • Requirement / specification / design


use cases2
Use cases
  • Describe the sequence of events that happen when the system responds to a request
    • Can describe alternatives
    • Can describe errors


use cases are text
Use cases are text
  • Use cases should be easy to read
    • keep them short
    • tell a story
    • write full sentences with active verb phrases
    • make the actors visible in each sentence


many ways of writing use cases
Many ways of writing use cases
  • User stories
  • Actor-goal list
  • Use case briefs
  • Casual use cases
  • “Fully dressed” use cases


actor goal list
Actor-Goal List

Actor Task-level goal Priority

Provider Submit paper claim 1

Provider Submit fax claim 2

Provider Submit electronic claim 3

Adjud. Adjudicate problem 2


use case briefs
Use case briefs


Submit claim on paper, which is converted into electronic form, and either paid or sent for adjudication

Submit claim by fax, which is processed by OCR and either paid or sent for adjudication.

Decide whether a questionable claim should be paid by the mainframe payment system or rejected






Submit paper claim

Submit fax claim

Adjudicate failed claim


brief casual version of submit fax claim
Brief (casual) version of Submit Fax Claim

The Provider submits a claim by fax. The claim processing system will log the image to optical disk, apply form dropout, deskewing, despeckling, and then process it using OCR. Knowledge workers will repair any fields that seem to be in error. The claim will then either be paid (using existing mainframe processing system) or sent to adjudication.


detailed fully dressed version of submit fax claim
Detailed (fully dressed) version of Submit Fax Claim

Primary Actor: Provider

Goal in context: Pay legitimate claims while rejecting bad ones.

Scope: Business - the overall purchasing mechanism, electronic and nonelectronic, as seen by the people in the company.

Level: Summary

Stakeholders and interests:

Provider: Wants to be paid for services rendered.

Company: Wants to cut costs and avoid fraud

Precondition: none

Minimal guarantees: Pay only certified providers, pay only for services that are covered by plan, do not pay if there are obvious mistakes


main success scenario
Main Success Scenario:

Trigger: Claim submitted by fax

1. Provider: submit claim by fax

2. Claim system: drop forms, deskew, despeckle, use OCR to convert to electronic form

3. Claim system: check claim to make sure it is legal

4. Mainframe payment system: pay claim


2a. Some fields have low confidence: Knowledge worker corrects

3a. Claim is not valid: send to adjudication


use cases and requirements
Use Cases and Requirements
  • An important part of requirements
  • Help requirement traceability
  • Help manage requirements


  • Use cases
  • Stakeholders - people who care
  • Business case - cost of project, time to complete project
  • Interfaces with outside systems
  • Technology requirements
  • Ease of use, ease of maintenance, throughput and response time


  • Traceability - the ability to trace the effect of a requirement and determine who caused it
    • Why do we have this requirement? Who wrote it?
    • How is this requirement met?
    • What requirement caused this design?


manage requirements
Manage requirements
  • Must agree to change in requirements
    • Usually increases price
    • Must be reviewed
  • Make sure each part of design is due to a requirement
  • Analyze problems: what was the root cause of this bug?


scenarios and use cases
Scenarios and Use Cases
  • Scenario is concrete and detailed
    • names of people
    • $ values, particular dates, particular amounts
  • Scenario is a test case
  • Use Case is a contract, and collects all the scenarios


goals and use cases
Goals and Use Cases
  • Actor has a goal for the use case
  • System forms subgoals to carry out its responsibility
  • Goals can fail
  • Use case describes a set of ways for carrying out the goal, and several ways of failing


when use cases don t work
When use cases don’t work
  • Compilers
    • one use case - compile a program
  • Despeckler
    • one use case - remove speckles
  • No interaction
  • Complexity is caused by
    • input format
    • transformation


  • Use cases are useful, but not perfect
  • Many ways to write use cases
  • Big projects need big use cases
  • Use the simplest way you can!


  • Chapter 8 of Hamlet and Maybee
  • Either chapters 7, 9, and 16 of Kruchten or read about the planning game (the first part of 10, the first part of 11, and 15 of Beck, or maybe