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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What are the different attributes of the use cases?

Use cases sound similar to test cases. But the two are not same. Where the test cases are used in software testing, the use cases are used in the general software systems engineering. We have dedicated this whole article to the discussion of the use cases.

What are Use Cases?

- The use case is a set of steps which are implemented to define the interactions occurring between the software system and a role.

- This is basically done to achieve a predefined goal. The role is commonly called as an actor and can be an external software system or simply a human.

- The use cases are often used at the higher levels of the software systems engineering.

- The goals to achieve for which the use cases are developed are often defined by the stake holders.

- The requirements are stated by the stake holders in a separate documentation.

- This documentation serves at a contract between the two i.e., between the software developers or programmers and the stake holders or the clients.

- The structure of a use case has been a quite debated topic. Many opinions were given regarding the how the structure of a typical use case should be.

- But usually the structure defined by the Alistair Cockburn is followed. It is popularly known as the “fully dressed use case structure”.
It consists of the following aspects:

1. Title of the use case
2. Primary role
3. Goal of the use case
4. Scope
5. Level
6. Interests
7. Stake holders
8. Preconditions or requirements
9. Guarantees (both minimal and success)
10.Success scenario
11. Technology
12. Data variations
13. Extensions and
14. Related information

He gave some other many useful aspects related to the use cases like:

1. Casual use case structure
2. Design scope icon
3. Goal level icon


- The role of an actor in a use case is to make effective decisions and so calls for the need of good decision making ability.

- It is not necessary that an actor should always be a human. It can be a computer system also.

- Though the decisions of an actor influences the whole use case implementation, there does not exist any direct link between the system and the actor.


- Certain necessary attributes have been discovered so far that are needed by the use case to accomplish the goal for which it has been developed.

- The attributes need not be only functions; they can be in the form of data variables also.

- Not all the attributes have been extracted from the preceding steps; some have been taken as the general assumptions out of common knowledge of the use cases.

1. System requirements: These requirements form the basis for thedelopmnt of a use case.
2. The requirements need to be complete and correct and of quality.
3. Software requirements specification testing
4. User- centred approach for the specification of the requirements.
5. Unified modelling language: this language based on the object oriented paradigm is employed for the construction, visualization and documentation of the system.
6. Use case diagrams

The below mentioned are the three attributes of the use cases:

1. Level of validity
This attribute is concerned with the validation of the use cases. It queries about the completeness of the use case, achievement of the goals, changes to be made, addressing of the additional goals and representation of the additional actors and so on.

2. Metrics
This use case attribute deals with the factors like the ambiguity, completeness, trace-ability and volatility of the use case.

3. Risk indicators
Typical 3 risk indicators have been identified namely incompleteness, options and weak phrases.

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