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Software Quality Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 69–97 | Cite as

Assessing the quality of use case descriptions

  • Keith Thomas Phalp
  • Jonathan VincentEmail author
  • Karl Cox
Article

Abstract

Use cases have, for some years, been a popular approach to specification, as part of the Unified Modelling Language (UML). However, a number of authors have pointed to weaknesses with the approach, particularly in terms of the support offered to the writer of the use case description. This paper describes a Use Case Description Quality Checklist that acts as a check on the quality of the written description. The checklist is derived from theories of text comprehension, taken from the Discourse Processing community. The checklist approach has a number of benefits. First, the approach can be used to derive, or examine further, use case guidelines. That is, by considering whether such guidelines are likely to result in desirable qualities within the resulting description, one is able to make an informed judgement about the utility of those guidelines. Second, one can test for the desirable quality features in existing descriptions, thus enabling empirical validation. Third, as a minimum, the quality features can themselves be used as a checklist for the examination, and revision, of use case descriptions. To demonstrate applicability, the paper reports upon the use, and success, of the approach on an industrial case study.

Keywords

Use case Use case description Text comprehension Requirements Specification Validation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Thomas Phalp
    • 1
  • Jonathan Vincent
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karl Cox
    • 2
  1. 1.Software Systems Modelling GroupBournemouth UniversityBournemouthUK
  2. 2.National ICT AustraliaSydneyAustralia

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