Use Cases -- A minimalist's View

Discussion in 'Java' started by Uncle Bob (Robert C. Martin), Jul 2, 2003.

  1. Use cases are a wonderful idea that has been vastly overcomplicated.
    Over and over again I have seen teams sitting and spinning in their
    attempts to write use cases. Typically they thrash on issues of form
    rather than substance. They argue and debate over preconditions,
    postconditions, actors, secondary actors, and a bevy of other things
    that _just don't matter_.

    The real trick to use cases is to _keep them simple_. Don't worry
    about use case forms, just write them on _blank_ paper, or on a
    _blank_ page in a simple word processor, or on _blank_ index cards.
    Don't worry about filling in all the details. Details aren't
    important until much later. Don't worry about capturing _all_ the use
    cases; that's an impossible task.

    The one thing to remember about use cases is: _tomorrow they are going
    to change_. No matter how diligently you capture them, no matter how
    fastidiously you record the details, no matter how thoroughly you
    think them through, no matter how much effort you apply to exploring
    and analyzing the requirements, _tomorrow_ they are going to change.

    If something is going to change tomorrow, you don't really need to
    capture its details today. Indeed, you want to postpone the capture
    of the details until the very last possible moment.

    Think of use cases as _just in time requirements._

    This post is an excerpt from my latest book:"UML for Java
    Programmers", Robert C. Martin, Prentice Hall, 2003. See for details.
    Robert C. Martin | "Uncle Bob"
    Object Mentor Inc.| unclebob @ objectmentor . com
    PO Box 5757 | Tel: (800) 338-6716
    565 Lakeview Pkwy | Fax: (847) 573-1658 |
    Suite 135 | |
    Vernon Hills, IL, | Training and Mentoring |
    60061 | OO, XP, Java, C++, Python |
    Uncle Bob (Robert C. Martin), Jul 2, 2003
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