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Requirements: Use-Case Model

Guidelines: Use-Case Model
The use-case model is a model that describes a system's requirements in terms of use cases.

Use-Case Model Topics         
Explanation How the use-case model evolves Avoiding functional decomposition Non-functional requirements The what versus how dilemma Concrete and abstract use cases Structuring the use-case model Are use cases always related to actors? The survey description

A use-case model is a model of the system's intended functions and its surroundings, and serves as a contract between the customer and the developers. Use cases serve as a unifying thread throughout system development. The same use-case model is the result of the Requirements discipline, and is used as input to Analysis & Design and Test disciplines. The diagram below shows a part of a use-case model for the Recycling-Machine System.

A use-case diagram, showing an example of a use-case model with actors and use cases.

There are many ways to model a system, each of which may serve a different purpose. However, the most important purpose of a use-case model is to communicate the system's behavior to the customer or end user. Consequently, the model must be easy to understand. The users and any other system that may interact with the system are the actors. Because they represent system users, actors help delimit the system and give a clearer picture of what it is supposed to do. Use cases are developed on the basis of the actors' needs. This ensures that the system will turn out to be what the users expected.

How the Use-Case Model Evolves

reliability. and that together they can provide what the customer wants. Example: In the Recycling-Machine System. Many non-functional requirements apply to an individual use case and are captured within the properties of that use case. a non-functional requirement specific to the Return Deposit Items use case could be: The machine has to be able to recognize deposit items with a reliability of more than 95 percent. watch for the following symptoms:    "Small" use cases.Both the actors and the use cases are found by using the requirements of customers and potential users as vital information. In that case. the platform environment. A use case is a complete flow of events that results in something of value to an actor. Example: . you can say that any requirement that does not allow for more than one design option should be regarded as a design constraint. you will select a subset of use cases to be detailed in each iteration. "Enter Personal Identification Number in an ATM machine" should not be modeled as a separate use case for the ATM machine. To avoid this. But what about the non-functional requirements? What are they and where are they captured? Non-functional requirements are often categorized as usability-. since no one would use the system to do just this. These descriptions show how the system interacts with the actors and what the system does in each individual case. For example. As they are discovered. the use-case model should be reviewed by the customer to verify that all the use cases and actors are found. you should make sure that the use-case model helps answer questions like:     What is the context of the system? Why is the system built? What does the user want to achieve when using the system? What value does the system add to the users? Non-Functional Requirements It is quite easy to see that use cases are a very good way of capturing functional requirements on a system. or as a special requirement of the use case (see Guidelines: Use Case). Before the use cases are described in detail. In an iterative development environment. "Many" use cases. Avoiding Functional Decomposition It is not uncommon that the use-case model degenerates into a functional decomposition of the system. and the developers and customers use it to agree on what the system should do. To avoid functional decomposition. rather than a multiple of ten. Use-case names that are constructions like "do this operation on this particular data" or "do this function with this particular data". the flow of events of each use case is described in detail. performance. and substitutabilityrequirements (see also Concepts: Requirements). or any application standards that apply. In general. When the actors and use cases have been found. They are often requirements that specify need of compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements. meaning that the description of the flow of events is only one or a few sentences. compatibility issues. Finally. the use cases and the actors should be briefly described. Such requirements are captured in the Supplementary Specifications (see Artifact: Supplementary Specifications). they are captured within the flow of events of the use case. meaning that the number of use cases is some multiple of a hundred. the completed use-case model (including the descriptions of use cases) is reviewed. Often the non-functional requirements apply to the whole system. They can also be design constraints due to the operating system used.

A concrete use case is initiated by an actor and constitutes a complete flow of events. you will use a different context to decide what you think is "what" and what is "how". no separate instances are created from abstract use cases. Consider the following graph: One person's destination is another's starting point. extend into. This needs to be taken into consideration when determining whether or not a certain detail should be left out of the use-case model. but not "how" it does it. a non-functional requirement that applies to the whole system could be: The machine will allow only one user at a time. Depending on your background.In the Recycling-Machine System. The distinction between the two is important. Abstract use cases are included in. Where does features start and use cases begin. When a concrete use case is initiated. Thus. an instance of the use case is created. Concrete and Abstract Use Cases There is a distinction between concrete and abstract use cases. and where does use cases end and design begin? We often say that use cases or software requirements should state "what" the system does. "Complete" means that an instance of the use case performs the entire operation called for by the actor. An abstract use case is never instantiated in itself. The What Versus How Dilemma One of the more difficult things is to learn how to determine at what level of detail the use cases should "start and end". This instance also exhibits the behavior specified by its associated abstract use cases. because it is concrete use cases the actors will "see" and initiate in the system. Example: . or generalize other use cases. You indicate that a use case is abstract by writing its name in italics.

always as a part of Register Order (or any other use cases in which it is included). To structure the use cases. however. since Internet Customer does exhibit all properties of a Customer. Create Task. you can say that Internet Customer is a specialization of Customer. If there is a part of a base use case that is optional. You should at least have established a step-bystep outline to the flow of events of the use case. Create Task. Create Task is an abstract use case. or not necessary to understand the primary purpose of the use case. Create Task is never performed by itself. In the Depot-Handling System the abstract use case. The child use cases can insert new behavior and modify existing behavior in the structure they inherit from the parent use case. The concrete use cases in this diagram are Phone Order (initiated by the Customer actor) and Internet Order (initiated by Internet Customer). their common parts can be factored out to a base use case (parent) that is inherited by addition use cases (children). When Register Order is initiated. using the include-relationship. If there are use cases that have commonalties in behavior and structure and similarities in purpose. an instance of Register Order is created that.The use case Create Task is included in the use case Register Order. you can factor that part out to an addition use case in order to simplify the structure of the base use case. The addition is implicitly inserted in the base use case.    If there is a part of a base use case that represents a function of which the use case only depends on the result. we have three kinds of relationships. The use case that represents the modification is called the addition use case. apart from following Register Order's flow of events. not the method used to produce the result. The addition is explicitly inserted in the base use case. you can factor that part out to an addition use case. or that are specializations or options to the use case. It is useful to separate ordinary Customer from Internet Customer. To partition out common behavior described within many use cases To make the use-case model easier to maintain. Example: Consider part of the use-case model for an Order Management System. There is no point in structuring the use cases until you know a bit more about their behavior. These use cases are both variations of the more general Place . is included in the use case Register Order. indicated with an actor-generalization. Structuring the Use-Case Model There are three main reasons for structuring the use-case model:    To make the use cases easier to understand. not the first thing you do. since they have slightly different properties. Structuring is. You will use these relationships to factor out pieces of use cases that can be reused in other use cases. You can use actor-generalization to show how actors are specializations of one another. However. also follows the flow of events described in the included use case. Create Task is therefore an abstract use case. The use case that is modified is called the base use case. to make sure that your decisions are based on an accurate enough understanding of the behavior. using the extend-relationship. beyond a one sentence brief description.

To obtain the effects of the addition. No. no. The Supply Customer Data use case represents a segment of behavior that was factored out since it is a separate function of which only the result is affecting the Place Order use case. express a condition on the inclusion you need to say it explicitly in the base use case. The following table shows a more detailed comparison between the three different use-case relationships: Question What is the direction of the relationship? Does the relationship have multiplicity? Extend The addition use case references the base use case. Does the relationship have a condition? Yes. it is unaffected by base use case. It has been factored out to an abstract use case to simplify the Place Order use case. Include The base use case references the addition use case. Both Request Catalog and Supply Customer Data are abstract in this example. . Together with the If it is abstract. The Supply Customer Data use case can also be reused in other use cases. Does the base use Yes. If you want to No. Generalization The addition use case (child) references the base use case (parent). but it can be. If you want to No. include the same segment of behavior more than once. This use-case diagram shows part of the use-case model for an Order Management System. Often no. on the addition side. the addition use case (child) must be instantiated. No. The extension implicitly modifies the behavior of the base use case. The inclusion explicitly If the base use case (parent) is modifies the effect of the instantiated. Is the addition use case abstract? Is the base use case modified by the addition? Often yes. the child. that needs to be stated in the base use case. Yes.Order use case. but not Yes. The Request Catalog use case represents an optional segment of behavior that is not part of the primary purpose of Place Order. which in this example is abstract. necessarily.

If no other actor interaction occurs in the use case. and nothing else.and the use case is not initiated by an actor. No. Arrows indicate possible ownership. This graph shows the use-case model hierarchy. No. A use case instance is always started by an actor asking the system to do something. yes. . Are Use Cases Always Related to Actors? The execution of each use case includes communication with one or more actors. However. there will not be any communication-associations to actors from that abstract use case. The base use case must be well-formed in the absence of the addition. No. Another aspect of organizing the use-case model for easier understanding is to group the use cases into packages. Yes. A child use case in a generalization-relationship does not need to have an actor associated with it if the parent use case describes all actor communication. Yes. by the normal mechanisms of inheritance. A use case may be initiated according to a schedule (for example. This implies that every use case should have communicatesassociations with actors. A base use case in an include-relationship does not need to have an actor associated with it if the inclusion use case describes all actor communication. and only "sees" itself. The addition is encapsulated. However. The inclusion is encapsulated. for have to be complete and meaningful? Does the addition use case have to be complete and meaningful? Can the addition use case access attributes of the base use case? Can the base use case access attributes of the addition use case? No. once a week or once a day). The base use case (parent) must in this sense be wellformed in the absence of the addition (child). there are some exceptions to this rule:     If a use case is abstract (not separately instantiable). The base use case only knows about the effect of the addition. The system clock is internal to the system . No. you can use a fictive actor "Time" to show how the use case is initiated in your use-case diagrams. but by an internal system event. its behavior may not include interaction with any actor. In that case. it will not have any associations to actors. Together with the base use case (parent). which means the system clock is the initiator. The reason for this rule is to enforce the system to provide only the functionality that users need. The use-case model can be organized as a hierarchy of use-case packages. additions. No. Having use cases that no one requests is an indication that something is wrong in the usecase model or in the requirements. with "leaves" that are actors or use cases. yes.

for example. or add new deposit item types. Summarize important technical facts about the system. Administer Deposit Item.The Survey Description The survey description of the use-case model should:       State which are the primary use cases of the system (the reason the system is built). which allows an operator to change refund value for a type of deposit item. Example: Following is a sample survey description of the Recycling Machine's use-case model: This model contains three actors and three use cases. Specify functionality not handled by the use-case model. The primary use case is Recycle Items. which allows an operator to get a report on how many items have been recycled. Copyright: © 2011 École Polytechnique de Montréal . target platforms and existing software. Describe any sequences in which use cases are normally performed in the system. Summarize the system's environment.things that the system is not supposed to do. which represents the main purpose of the Recycling Machine. Point out system delimitations . Supporting use cases are:   Print Daily Report.