Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Where Did Use Cases Go?

I've always liked use cases as an analysis/design tool. I was even the lead developer on a now defunct use case management tool. What ever happened to them? I never hear any one talking about them anymore. Sad really. They were an important part of the journey to understanding user needs. It made gathering easier as well as grouping functionality together. When done right, domain modeling was a breeze. Sure, you never got all of the use cases before design started, but at least you had a good idea of what the goals of the system are. I'm still shocked when I get on a team and the goals of what the software is to do is not clear.

It seems in the rush for agility that people threw away use cases as well. I don't know why. I think stories are a horrible mechanism for understanding. They are the lazy man's use case. Modeling the main domain objects and a good cut at use cases is crucial before you start coding. It will save countless hours. Now, this might seem un-agile. But, thinking about your problem and trying to get a good grip on it before you start coding IS agile. Writing use cases does not end when you start designing or when you start coding. It's a continual process. Use cases are needed to be not only for the knowledge of the developer, but also so that the client knows exactly what you are building. They are to be done together. And as any experienced developer will tell you, you never know everything about what you're building. Customers and developers need each other. Use cases are proof of that.

Use cases rock.

1 comment:

vpenny said...

Hey Trouble!!! Just wanted you to know I spent the past month creating Use Cases for the project I am developing. Soooooooooo, Use Cases aren't dead everywhere. :-)