Patterns for Effective Use Cases

Patterns for Effective Use Cases

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Use cases have become a very popular requirements-gathering technique, yet many developers struggle when faced with writing them. They grasp the basic concepts, but find that writing effective use cases turns out to be more difficult than they expected. One factor contributing to this difficulty is that the community lacks objective criteria for judging the quality of use cases. This new book articulates the qualities of effective use cases by applying the proven patterns concept of development to this requirements-gathering technique. The authors present a catalog of thirty-six patterns that help the reader become proficient at judging the quality of their (and other's) patterns. These patterns represent solutions to recurring problems that application developers have faced in writing use cases. Each pattern is presented with examples that help the reader understand the benefit of the pattern, and just as importantly, the consequences of ignoring its proper use.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 187 x 235 x 16mm | 445g
  • Addison Wesley
  • Boston, United States
  • English
  • w. figs.
  • 0201721848
  • 9780201721843
  • 659,013

Back cover copy

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.

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Table of contents


1. What is a Quality Use Case?

Why Use Cases at All?

What's So Hard About Telling Good Stories?

Why a Use Case Pattern Language?

What are Patterns.

How Should I use this Pattern Language.

What is he Use Case Pattern Form?

Stepping Through a Sample Pattern.

The Examples.

Organization of the Pattern Catalog.

Process Patterns.

Structural Patterns.

Supplement: A Brief Tutorial on Writing Use Cases.

2. The Team.

Team organizational issues.




Tradeoffs and Collaborations.

3. The Process.


Breadth Before Depth and UML by Dan Rawthorne.


SpiralDevelopment and UML Models by Dan Rawthorne.





Tradeoffs and Collaborations.

4. The Use Case Set.



VisibleBoundary(101) and UML Models by Dan Rawthorne.




EverUnfoldingStory and UML Models by Dan Rawthorne.

Tradeoffs and Collaborations.

5. The Use Case.







Tradeoffs and Collaborations.

6. Scenarios and Steps.






Tradeoffs and Collaborations.

7. Use Case Relationships.


CommonSubBehaviour and UML by Dan Rawsthorne.


InterruptsAsExtensions and UML by Dan Rawsthorne.

Extensions and UML Extension Points.


PromoteAlternatives and UML by Dan Rawsthorne.

Tradeoffs and Collaborations.


CaptureTheAbstraction - A Pattern for Applying UML Generalization by Dan Rawsthorne.

Capture the Abstraction and UML.

8. Editing Existing Use Cases.




Tradeoffs and Collaborations.

Index 0201721848T05162002
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About Steve Adolph

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 (

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