Plain English explanation of use cases??

Subject: Plain English explanation of use cases??
From: Jean Weber <jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au>
To: Technical Writers List <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 21:10:18 +1000

Can someone direct me to a plain English explanation of "use cases" and
"user scenarios" as used in designing, programming and documenting software

I have some superficial experience with them, but find that I can't explain
them in plain English, or at least not beyond the superficial. I've found
some definitions on the net, but the definitions were all in techno-speak
and made little sense to me. If there's anything in the archives of either
of these lists, it eluded me.

The context is: writers can use them to help build task lists from which to
build online help and user guides.

But what exactly do the terms "use case" or a "user scenario" mean, and how
do they fit into the software development cycle?

I saw Anthony Markatos' comment (on a different thread), "But Use Cases are
just stripped-down Data Flow Diagrams... a currently very popular book on
Use Cases [is] Larry Constantine's 'Essential Use Cases'," but I would
prefer not to buy a book. I don't need to know this in depth (I hope) but I
do need an overview. "Just the executive summary, please!"

Any leads, preferably online ones, gratefully received!

Regards, Jean
Jean Hollis Weber
mailto:jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au
The Technical Editors' Eyrie
Avalook at Australia Travel site:

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