Use Cases And Actors

Usually software systems are developed to be used by humans or other hardware devices. There is a close interaction between users (humans or machines) and the system. Users send a message to the system that provokes the system to execute some operations in order to return some valuable response. Therefore, determining what a software system should provide to users means understanding what the users want from the system. The process of capturing requirements for a system developed using object-oriented approach is referred to as developing the use case model.

The use case approach was introduced by the well-known work of [JCJ94], often referred to in the object-oriented community as the father of the Object-Oriented Software Engineering (OOSE). Very soon, use cases were embraced by the totality of the methodologist worldwide.

Use cases are a simple and yet powerful way to express the functional requirements of a system. Use cases describe how users can use the system and what the system can do for users. Therefore, use cases are an important tool to build a consensus between the system's stakeholders and the system's developers. If stakeholders cannot agree on what the system should provide, chances that the project can be successful are very slim. Use cases have improved the communication between stakeholders and the development team and have made the process of gathering system requirements easier and more formal. Use cases provide a visual representation of the conceptual model of the system. More details about use case modeling can be found in [JCJ94], [BS03], and [BRJ99].

The use case model contains actors that represent the future users of the system and use cases that represent what the users can do with the system.

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