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Friday, June 1, 2012

What are user stories? Are they similar to use cases? Where is user stories used?

You must have heard about the term “user stories” and “use cases” when it comes to the discussion regarding the issues of the software development! In this article we have taken up 3 important questions to discuss as mentioned below:
  1. What are user stories?
  2. Are they similar to use cases?
  3. Where are the user stories used?

What are User Stories?

- User story is a common term that is quite involved with everything that happens in the field of software development and the product management. 
- A user story is more like the business or every day language of the end user (end user is the one who uses the software system or application) which indicates about the activities of the user and what things he/ she needs to do to perform his part of function well.
- User stories have become quite famous.
- User stories are commonly used with the agile software development methodologies when compared its use with the other software development methodologies. 
- Actually, the user stories when used with the agile software development methodologies, serve as a basis or criteria for defining the business functions that a business system is ought to provide. 
- The facilitation of the requirements management is also done with the help of the user stories.
- There are 3 aspects of the requirements that are captured by a typical user story in a way that is quite simple and concise and with a limited description:
  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Why?

Who is responsible for writing user stories?

- They are written by the business users as their means to have an influence on the functionalities and features of the software system or application that is being developed. 
- They may also be written by the system developers and programmers as a way to express the non functional requirements like the performance, quality and security. 
- But overall, the task of managing the user stories is taken up by the product manager and thus it is his/ her responsibility for ensuring that the user stories are captured properly. 

"Are user stories similar to use cases?”

Both these are similar to a certain extent. We shall state how! 
- The documentation of the requirements is created with the help of both the user stories and the use cases so that the documentation has a perspective of the user. 
- Since both of them are used in the documentation of the requirements, they both indeed help in capturing the features and functionality of the system. 
- Together they help the development to come with the best solution to the problem. 
- Another advantage of these two is that both can be used to organize the requirements of the system under different categories. 
- They also serve as a reference during the testing phase which ensures that the requirements have been met. 

But there are many other substantial ways in which they differ. 
- Without user stories the developers would have to create formalized requirements documents and perform many tasks to manage them. 
- The user stories are intended to make the response of the developers faster to the rapidly changing requirements of the users and so cutting down the overhead.
- User stories are accompanied by acceptance tests whereas use cases can be delivered as a stand alone document.
- User stories contain little detail whereas use cases include detailed description.

Where are user stories used?

- User stories are an important part of agile development methodologies.
- They give a reason what should be built in a software project.

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