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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on use cases.
I was disappointed to see that the previous reviewer thought so little of this book. Personally, I thought it was excellent. As a systems analyst, I need to employ use cases as a way for users to understand how they would use the system - in 'everyday' language. I thought this is precisely the reason why the book was written. Rarely can I get users interested in state...
Published on 8 Jan 2002

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dull but useful
This is never going to be a riveting read so prepare yourself for that.

Use Cases are like every business strategy, a fad, a flash in the pan that will be replaced by the next fashionable concept.

This book sets out to explain how they SHOULD be implemented but in my experience, this is more of a flexible framework that firms use to their needs...
Published on 3 May 2011 by AM


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on use cases., 8 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
I was disappointed to see that the previous reviewer thought so little of this book. Personally, I thought it was excellent. As a systems analyst, I need to employ use cases as a way for users to understand how they would use the system - in 'everyday' language. I thought this is precisely the reason why the book was written. Rarely can I get users interested in state diagrams, event/action analysis etc. Users that have this ability don't need use cases:-)
Also, I felt Cockburn clearly explained where use cases sit with regard to other requirement types. If you want a good book that shows you how to write behavioral requirements in 'user-speak', this is the one!
I think there are many good books, which show how to take use cases down to a more formal representation for development purposes. "Applying UML and Patterns" by Craig Larman , Second edition is one of them. In it, he describes the refinement of a use case into system contracts with pre-post conditions, static model etc. Another great book!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely a very very good book, 29 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
I have read a number of books about modelling requirements on the back of endorsements such as "It's the industry bible for X". Writing Effective Use Cases was similarly recommended to me.
Having read it I can only wholeheartedly agree. It is well written, the lessons coming to life through numerous real-world examples and summaries for busy readers. There is plenty of content here, but the technique is expertly unravelled, each element dealt with in its turn.
In some ways I wish I had read this book a long time ago. In other ways, the mistakes that I have made over the last year have made me appreciate the true value of this book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had read this book years ago., 27 Feb 2005
By 
M. G. Brown (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
I have read a number of UML books in the past and nearly all of them have passed off Use Case writing with a sentence like "A complete discussion of this is a topic for a whole other book." Well this is the other book.
In just 230 pages (there is little waffle here), Alistair manages to give the topic very thorough coverage. The number of different Use Case styles presented and the discussion about when to use each particularly impressed me. The examples too are surprisingly complete with almost no ... in.
My only criticism is the books structuring with some chapters being 20 pages and others less than a whole side. Also the amount of forward and backward referencing can get a bit much at times.
This book has definatly improved my use cases. All in all, though, I wish I had read this book years ago.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide to use case modeling for both novice and experienced, 11 Mar 2009
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
I reviewed this book as I believe there is little out there in the way of training or guidance on how to do use case modeling well. This is one of the few books that has a specific use case focus.

Author

Alistair Cockburn is a name you will come across if you spend any time researching use cases as he has been doing use case modeling and both writing and training on that subject since the mid nineties.

Presentation

The book is presented clearly and is written in a manner that does not require any specific background, technical or otherwise. Diagrams are used to illustrate where possible but, considering use cases are a narrative form, it's reasonable that there aren't many. There are plenty of examples and exercises are provided for you to tackle.

Usability

It is well structured with early chapters taking you through the principles of use case modeling and the various elements of the use case model. The latter chapters provide more concise, focussed material for the more experienced reader to refer to, including guidelines on use case construction and common mistakes.

Content

The book itself covers the following areas (amongst others):

Principles for a use case - what should a use case aim to deliver?

High level vs low level use cases, various styles from 'casual' to formal and how a use case can evolve depending on its purpose
I found this useful as guidance on the perennial problem of business stakeholders preferring high level use cases and IT stakeholders requiring detailed, very precise use cases

Good practice for writing use cases with later chapter including some very specific check lists

Complete method for writing use cases from project initiation through to completing the use case model
This is quite high level but still quite useful as an example.

Relationship between use case modeling and other activities including project planning, design, test and other, more detailed analysis (e.g. screen design)
This includes useful guidance on how use cases relate to and influence other activities and project artefacts

Relevance

This book was originally written in 2001 which makes it relatively old. I don't think it has dated and, to be honest, the same problems exist in use case modeling today that are discussed in this book. These problems do not change with time.

Overall

I rate this book highly both for novices looking for an introduction to use case modeling and for more experienced people looking to refine their techniques and eliminate some bad habits (like me!).

It is a practical view borne from experience and I would agree with most of the guidance that is expressed.

It is NOT a book for someone who wants an end to end method for completing analysis on a project as it doesn't cover detailed activities such as screen and report design. However, it does contain a high level method and some useful guidance for how use cases interact with other activities on the project. I believe this is a strength as its very specific focus on use cases produces good guidance that I believe is lacking.

Alex Papworth
(owner of bamentor, online resource for business analysts)
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive practical guide to writing Use Cases., 12 Mar 2002
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
In my opinion Alistair Cockburn has written the definitive practical guide to writing Use Cases. This book is obviously written by someone who has great practical experience, rather than just understanding the theory. I have used this book as my guide leading a team of analysts, on a project where there was no prior experience of writing Use Cases. Fortunately this book has answers to just about all of the issues we came across on a highly complex project. It comes highly recommended. Topics I would like to see included in a second edition would be writing Use Cases for Batch functions, and more about (already covered to some extent) Use Cases in the context of the Project Life-cycle. Viz. leaveraging the Use Cases to assist BPR, Design and Testing activities. Well done Alistair, a absolute god send.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class - the best practitioner book on the market, 8 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
Use case theory is simple, but putting it into practice can leave you scratching your head. Hitting the right level is hard for even practiced people, never mind people just starting with the technique.
Fortunately, this is a clear and concise guide to the practical side of use cases, which no other book I've read covers to an acceptable depth. Alistair uses a slight variation of vanilla use cases, which IMHO makes them a lot more understandable. He also puts UML and graphical methods/diagrams in context.
Plus I like his icons.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Its a brilliant book!, 25 Nov 2003
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
This book is brilliant. Having gone through the pain of RUP for analysis, this is the book I wish we'd had before we started. The book is clear and easy to read, and most important of all, it makes sense.
Having begun to rework the approach that I take based on the recommendations in this book, all I can say, is get this book and read it! It will make your analysis life so much easier and provide a good clear approach to differentiating between business use cases and functional (decomposition) use cases amongst many other things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on UCs I've ever seen, 12 July 2013
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This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
This is a top-notch book on Use Cases. I got it because I had to write Use Cases for a programming and configuration tool for a safety controller used with electric motor drives in industrial automation systems. This is a SIL3 safety-critical application.

I disagree entirely with the two-star-awarding reviewer who calls Cockburn "naive". Indeed the great virtue of Cockburn's approach to Use Cases is that he keeps them simple. This is a major advantage in high-integrity systems where simplicity is the friend of reliability and safety. I also applaud Cockburn's evident disdain for using UML graphical notations for UCs. OO-methods are generally shunned in safety-critical systems as they are regarded as too imprecise (Indeed hardened practitioners in critical systems engineering often regard the use of UML/OO as a sign of limited competence.)

Cockburn is IMO absolutely right in saying that UCs are an essentially textual form. Sooner or later the developers of MIS-type system will realise that those of us who have been doing hard software engineering (in this reviewer's case for over 40 years) actually have a far clearer idea of the kinds of specification formalisms that work when things absolutely have to be right. And when the OO fad has finally died, I reckon Cockburn's book will still be in print because it does not shackle itself to the UML/OO bandwagon.

IMO, this book is exceptionally well-written and down-to-earth. It is, I think, a solid and welcome contribution to the literature on specification.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books on product development ever, 9 Mar 2013
By 
Clarke (Linlithgow, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
I'm a big proponent of Agile but I keep coming back to this book again and again and again.

It provides, for me, a wonderful way of thinking about the value-engineering aspects of product development - the stuff that happens before the software-engineering part. Both are important.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to Use Cases, 8 Sep 2008
By 
Mr. J. C. Fisher (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) (Paperback)
Good introduction to the art of writing good Use Cases with examples of good and bad. I also found it was written in an easy to read mannor.
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Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development)
Writing Effective Use Cases (Crystal Series for Software Development) by Alistair Cockburn (Paperback - 5 Oct 2000)
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