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Patterns for Effective Use Cases (Agile Software Development) Paperback – 20 Aug 2002

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From the Back Cover

Use cases have become an integral part of modeling software requirements, but many software developers are discovering that writing effective use cases is more difficult than they had anticipated. An understanding of the basic principles of use cases is not enough. Software developers need a source of objective criteria by which to judge quality and effectiveness.

Patterns for Effective Use Cases provides this set of objective criteria. Written by experienced use case practitioners, this book fills a critical information gap by presenting a pattern language that contains over thirty patterns, providing simple, elegant, and proven solutions to the most common problems in use case development. These patterns distill and define the properties and characteristics of quality use cases. As such, they facilitate the development of original use cases and provide a diagnostic tool for evaluating existing ones.

The book opens with a review of use cases and pattern fundamentals, along with a discussion of the requirements-gathering team. These patterns address the use case development process, the internal structure of use cases, and the relationships among use cases within the system as a whole. Examples of patterns include:

  • BreadthBeforeDepth
  • VisibleBoundary
  • EverUnfoldingStory
  • IntentionRevealingName
  • PreciseAndReadable
  • LeveledSteps
  • InterruptsAsExtensions
  • RedistributeTheWealth

Each pattern discussion includes at least one example demonstrating its real-world application, highlighting both the benefits of using the pattern and the consequences of not doing so. In addition, the book presents guidelines for the effective use of UML with relevant patterns.

Anyone involved in use case writing or requirements gathering will find Patterns for Effective Use Cases an indispensable handbook and reference.


About the Author

Steve Adolph is a consultant with WSA Consulting, Inc., where he is responsible for helping clients develop their software teams to meet new challenges. He has been an inspirational mentor and consultant to a variety of software companies and has spoken at numerous seminars and workshops on the topics of the software development process, use cases, software design, UML, and patterns. His twenty years of software development experience span the areas of cellular telephone, mobile dispatch, railway signaling, direct-to-plate printing, and e-commerce systems in both large and small organizations. He is also the author of numerous software-development case studies and articles.

Paul Bramble is a Senior Software Engineer with Emperative, Inc., where he specializes in Object-Oriented software development. He has been using, researching, and writing about use cases and patterns since 1994. He has more than twenty years of software development experience and has worked for several different organizations in the areas of telecommunications, avionics, operating systems, mainframe computer manufacturing, and e-commerce. Paul is a Colorado native, and received his MS degree in Computer Science from Arizona State University in 1989, designing portions of an Object-Oriented distributed operating system for his master's thesis.

Alistair Cockburn is a recognized expert on use cases. He is consulting fellow at Humans and Technology, where he is responsible for helping clients succeed with object-oriented projects. He has more than twenty years of experience leading projects in hardware and software development in insurance, retail, and e-commerce companies and in large organizations such as the Central Bank of Norway and IBM.

Andy Pols is founder of, and senior consultant at, Pols Consulting Limited in the UK, where he is responsible for training and mentoring in the areas of project management, use cases, and Object-Oriented development. He first wrote use cases while working at Ericsson and has since worked on numerous projects in the areas of manufacturing, clinical trials, revenue management, retail, consumer electronics, banking, and e-commerce. Andy lives in London and hosts the Use Case Zone (http://www.pols.co.uk/usecasezone).


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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Good advice but fails to address the real UC issues 29 July 2003
By "83step" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book attempts to take use cases to a higher level of science and in part succeed. Its plus points are discussions on management of use cases and the processes a team goes through in completing the creation / validation cycle. There's a lot of good sense here. Some of the patterns are useful. However, there's also a lot of regurgitation from various other texts and papers, some written by the authors themselves. And some key aspects are missing, aspects that are really important to industry and others that have concerned academia. Industry is not too worried about how to name use cases these days; that's easy. They want to be able to estimate how long it will take to build the system from use case points, for instance, or how to achieve forward traceability to the design and maintain traceability back to the requirements and business strategies (not the same thing exactly as the use case goal - which typically is not to stuff up and to make the principal actor happy). Academics are concerned too with effort estimation, with grammar and consistency checking, with dependencies and product lines, and non-functional requirements and whether use cases are at all to do with requirements in the first place and what they are no good for. Not whether we can build a little online booking web site - we can already do that. Though the book does not set out to answer these difficult questions, in its 200-odd pages, it ought to have, since this is what we really want to know about. So, though the book is excellent on what it does address, there's a lot of over kill in this. What's missing is what it does not address - all the hard problems we really need answers to.
44 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Overkill 16 Nov 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The fact that this book describes a "pattern" named PreciseAndReadable should tell you what you need to know. If you need to be told that use cases should be precise and readable, or that you should name them with active verb phrases (VerbPhraseName), or that they should describe things of value to the business people (UserValuedTransactions), or that you should involve those people in the process of writing them (ParticipatingAudience), or that you should stop writing them when they make those people happy (QuittingTIme), you'll certainly get some value from this book, but it's clear evidence that your problems run considerably deeper than this book will be able to address.
This represents 25 pages of fundamentally simple content spread across 200 pages, and in a thoroughly pretentious manner to boot. Avoid.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Deep Thought about Use Cases 24 Nov 2002
By D. Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The people who will be attracted to this book will be people who are really going to be involved in use case development, whether as actual writers, consulting engineers, subject matter experts, managers, or any other stakeholders in the process. Overall, I found the book to be well written, quite engaging, and, in the main portion where all the patterns are described, nicely organized to enable the reader to almost subconsciously understand how to navigate the pattern language. From a patterns perspective, the collection is more like a true pattern language than many other collections that make such claims and the interrelationships and movement through the language show that the authors did a great deal of work to make the language comprehensive while still keeping it lean. Although I am a veteran use case writer, in reading this text I learned many things that I wish I had known when I was in that practice. The authors have done a superb job at extracting what is the essence of good practice at all levels in developing use cases, and I think that the book could find a spot on many, many software professionals' shelves. Even more importantly, I think they would actually read it. In fact, I think they would study it. I know I did.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The How, What and Why of Use Cases 21 Dec 2002
By Steve Berczuk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Patterns for Effective Use cases is a must read if you need to develop for a software application. The authors describe what makes for a good use case, and make the points memorable with stories, and examples. If you have lots of experience writing use cases many of the patterns will cover things that you already know, but the way the patterns are presented make for an effective tool to help you teach others how to write a good use case. The pattern language format makes it clear that any single practice will not make for a good use case, you need to take a number together, otherwise you may have something that looks good at first glance, but just does not work.
I recommend this book for anyone who is learning to write use cases, or for experienced people who want a refesher course.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A worthy companion to Cockburn's book 15 Nov 2002
By "petemcb" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While Alistair Cockburn's "Writing Effective Use Cases" book is great for learning how to write use cases, this book takes it to the next level. It enables the reader to understand the issues that teams face when dealing with large numbers of use cases.
The authors cover the pragmatic issues that teams face, providing many real world examples and anecdotes. The pattern language is easy to read and apply on projects. The basic ideas of the pattern language are clearly expressed in the pattern names, for example, "Small Writing Team", "Participating Audience" and "Writers License". The summary on the inside cover provides a handy reminder for those times when you know you are making a mistake, but cannot quite remember the pitfall you are about to fall into.
A great book that I heartily recommend.
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