Use Cases: How Are They Different From User Stories & How To Create Them

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12th Sep, 2017
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Use Cases: How Are They Different From User Stories & How To Create Them

The most frequently asked question and confusing concept among the agile development team is “what is the difference between use case and user story?” because both serve the same purpose. The answer is that their approaches to the goal are distinct. Both use cases and user stories are frequently used in agile software development. Many organizations favor certifications that align with agile courses when hiring project managers just to make sure that they are aware of the difference between use cases vs user stories. Let's compare use cases vs user stories by looking at each definitions, similarities as well as the difference between user stories and use cases with examples and applications for each. 

Use Case vs User Story: Head-to-head Comparison

Getting to the crucial question, "How are user stories different from use cases?" Obtaining agile certification is encouraged to develop knowledge in understanding use cases vs user stories, which is easy to achieve with proper guidance. 

The following table can help us understand the difference between user stories and use cases: 

ParametersUser storyUse case
DescriptionsIt contains short or simplified descriptionsIt contains lengthy or complete descriptions
Type of UsageUser experiences center on needs.Describe the behavior you'll include in the product to suit those needs.
Ease of UseUsers may read user stories with ease.Outlines a thorough exchange between users and the system.
Type of InteractionUser story provides single descriptionUse case contains the sequence of interactions
ManagementUser story is manageable in one sprintUse case spans many sprints

What is a Use Case? 

The first author to present an article on use cases was Ivar Jacobson, who did so in 1987. A use case is a collection of interactions that occur between a user and a system to accomplish an objective. In this context, the user is an actor, and the system is a piece of equipment or a device. The decision-maker, whether they be a person, a business, or a computer program, is known as the actor. We will go over the actor in greater detail below. 

The use case mostly uses the following three terms. Let’s understand them with an example: “A person orders goods through an e-commerce website, and the seller delivers them.” 

1. Actors

An actor is a character who interacts with a system to achieve a purpose. The term "actor" comes from the Unified Modeling Language. The actor need not always be a human; they could be any computer program, hardware system, software system, business, or organization. The secondary actor, who aids the system in achieving the aim of the primary actor, is another character to be aware of in a use case. In the above example, the human is the main actor making decisions. The e-commerce program also notifies the seller to package and send the order to the buyer, here seller is the secondary actor. 

2. Goal

The process's end result is a goal, which is selected by the user, the client, and occasionally even a piece of software. The use case's entire process is intended to achieve the desired result. 

In the preceding example, the actor (person) opted to purchase a product (goal), hence the goal is to purchase a thing. If the product is delivered, the aim has been met. 

3. System

A system is one that accepts instructions from the actor and then executes all actions necessary to achieve the actor's purpose. 

The e-commerce website is the system in the preceding example. Following receipt of the order, various procedures are taken, including advancing to payment, alerting the seller to pack the item and send it, tracking the order status for any delays, and ultimately delivering the product. 

Format or Template

Use cases can be written in the text in a variety of styles, including formal, informal, and Fowler styles. There is no standard way to create the content of a use case, and different styles work well in different instances, according to Martin Fowler. He provided the following basic and typical format: 

  1. Title: “Goal established by the actor” 
  2. Success scenario: "List of interactions or steps to attain a goal". In this context, "steps" refers to a straightforward textual description of user and system interactions. 
  3. Extensions: "Departure from the primary success scenario's set of actions." If the aim is not achieved, more connections are made to conduct the necessary measures. 

What is a User Story?

Kent Beck first introduced user stories in the year 1997. User stories are written materials that describe a system's features from the viewpoint of the user or client. Post-it notes, computer software, and index cards are frequently used as writing surfaces. User stories are used in many agile techniques to describe and influence software development functionality.

Format or Template

User stories are written in several formats which are listed below: Let’s look at each of them. 

1. Five W’s concept: 

The five W’s are who, when, where, what, and why. This format of the user story is constructed by putting together user stories using the responses to a series of queries that pinpoint the specifics of the suggested product. 

“As a <Who>, I want to do <what> <where> <When> so I can accomplish <why>” 

2. Evil User Story 

This also goes by the name "abuse user story." To safeguard against hackers, this user narrative template was utilized to strengthen security for the software development application. It is written from the viewpoint of a hacker, assuming that cyberattack-related actions take place. 

“As a <anti nationalist>, I want to <copy the personal information> of voters to <demolish>government” 

3.Connextra Format: 

Connextra template is the most common and widely used template in the User story, Let’s understand this with below-stated format 

“ As a <actor>, i can do <ability>, so that <benefit received>” 

Use Case vs User Story: Similarities

User stories vs use cases: there are a few commonalities that are listed below, and these differences have caused misunderstanding about the difference between use cases and user stories. Let us look at them: 

  1. The main similarity between the use case and user story is they both have a role and goal to accomplish. 
  2. Both are written in everyday language that is straightforward and easy for users. 
  3. Both ought to make it clearer to the reader what the software is intended to do. 
  4. Use cases have comparable components with user stories, such as an actor, a sequence of occurrences, including subsequent conditions. 

Examples of User Story vs Use Case

The use case vs user story examples will help in understanding the usage of these techniques. These examples also help in understanding the use case user story differences. 

Example 1 

Title: “Passenger booking a railway ticket” 

Use case example: 

ActorPassenger
System1. Passenger opens a railway ticket booking application.
2. Enters destination details
3. Check suitable train timings.
4. Selected the suitable train
5. Enters personal details
6. Selected payment option
7. Credit card payment is done
8. Downloaded the train ticket
GoalTrain ticket booked

User story example: 

  1. The passenger opened a train ticket booking application so that he could start booking a train ticket. 
  2. Passenger checked suitable train timings so that he can book an appropriate train. 
  3. Passenger selected a credit card payment option so that he can make payment with a credit card. 
  4. Passenger downloaded the train ticket so that he can print the ticket copy. 
  5. Passenger printed the train ticket so that he can travel in the train with the ticket. 

Example 2 

Title: “A/C holder depositing cash in ADWM (Automated Deposit cum Withdrawal Machine)” 

Use case example: 

User / ActorA/c holder
System1. A/c holder visits nearby ADWM
2. A/c holder selects cash deposit option on screen
3. A/c holder deposits the cash in machine
4. ADWM counts the cash deposited
5. ADWM displays the amount deposited
6. A/c holder enters his account number details
7. A/c holder confirms details and presses enter button
8. ADWM prints deposit slip
9. A/c holder collects cash deposit slip
GoalCash deposited into bank account  

Possible extensions from step-4 to step-5. 

Step-4: ADWM counts the cash deposited 

  1. ADWM rejects the damaged notes. 
  2. Instructs the A/c holder to replace damaged notes. 
  3. The A/c holder takes out the damaged notes. 
  4. A/s holders deposit new cash in ADWM. 

Step-5: ADWM displays the amount deposited 

User story example 

  1. The A/c holder visits the nearby ADW machine so that he can start depositing cash. 
  2. The A/c holder selects the cash deposit option, so that machine opens the door to deposit 
  3. ADW machine counts the amount deposited so that it can display the actual cash deposited. 
  4. A/c holder enters his account number details, so that cash will be deposited in his account. 
  5. ADW machine print deposit slips, so that account holder can get confirmation. 
  6. A/c holder collects deposit slips so that he can leave the place with confirmation of accomplishment. 

The user story vs use case examples may be found in many daily tasks. There is a large curriculum to study and comprehend. 

When to Use a User Story vs Use Case?

In product development, the user journey vs use case is extensively utilized, mostly in agile development approaches. Let's discuss their other uses: 

Use case

  1. Use cases are utilized for the description of the software requirements specification (SRS), which serves as an alternate framework for the functional requirements. 
  2. Used for utilizing the entity-control-boundary method to derive the design from the requirements. 
  3. Utilized as a behavioral modeling tool in the Unified Modeling Language (UML). 
  4. Use case is utilized as the driving factor in Object Oriented Software Engineering (OOSE). 

User story

To begin customer-focused interactions, user stories are utilized before use cases. User stories provide an overview of potential software project features. 

In scrum, the product owner prioritizes user stories to identify those that are crucial to the system. Based on these discussions, user stories may be enhanced to provide more information. Notes, attachments, and acceptance requirements are examples of this. 

Conclusion

We have seen the use case and user story differences with individual definitions and also with suitable examples. Once you understand the topic “difference use case and user story”, you can begin to determine what function they can play in your project which helps in using both concepts appropriately in your projects. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are use cases and user stories the same?

They are not the same since they have distinct objectives. Difference between a use case and a user story is an important topic to know in agile software development. 

2. Does Agile use use cases?

Use cases are a part of agile software development. 

3. Can a use case include multiple user stories?

There is a chance that a single user story will give rise to many use cases. But a single use case cannot include multiple user stories. 

4. User stories are different than use cases in what way?

When compared to use cases, both are distinct, but user stories are simpler to understand.

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Satish T

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Satish T writes on project management and the many approaches used in projects across different sectors. He honed his fundamental writing talents in article production after discovering that the creation of content is essential when describing any product. Satish's areas of interest are fact-finding research, Search Engine Optimization, and skill development.