Task: Structure the Use-Case Model
This task is where the use-case model is structured to make the requirements easier to understand and to maintain. This includes leveraging commonality amongst use cases and actors, and identifying optional and exceptional behavior.
Disciplines: Requirements

The purpose of this task is to:

  • Extract behavior in use cases that need to be considered as abstract use cases. Examples of such behavior includes common behavior, optional behavior, exceptional behavior, and behavior that is to be developed in later iterations.
  • Find new abstract actors that define roles that are shared by several actors.
RolesPrimary Performer: Additional Performers:
    • None
      Process Usage
      Identify Common Requirements

      The first step in structuring the Use-Case Model is to understand the requirements that are common to more than one Use Case. Review each use case, taking notes of any commonality.

      Use these notes in the later steps (creating included, extended, and generalized use cases) to minimize redundancy. The goal is to make the requirements more understandable and easier to maintain, NOT to define a functional decomposition that is carried forward into the design.

      Common requirements aren't always handled best by creating new use cases. Consider moving common content into other requirements work products, such as the Glossary and Supplementary Specifications and reference as needed from use cases.

      Establish Include-Relationships Between Use Cases

      If a use case contains a segment of behavior of which only the result, not the method for getting the result, is of any importance to the rest of the use case, this behavior can be factored out to a new inclusion use case. The original use case then becomes the base use case in an include-relationship with the inclusion use case. See also Guideline: Use-Case Model and Guideline: Include-Relationship.

      An include-relationship between two use cases means that a use-case instance following the description of the base use case also needs to follow the description of the inclusion use case in order to be complete.

      The include-relationship can help clarify a use case by:

      • Isolating and encapsulating complex details so they do not obscure the real meaning of the use case.
      • Improving consistency by including behavior which are included in several base use cases.

      Generally, more than one use case must include an inclusion use case to make it worth it to maintain an extra use case and the include-relationship.

      Only the base use case knows of the relationship between the two use cases; no inclusion use case knows what other use cases includes it.

      Describe the include-relationship by briefly stating the purpose of the inclusion, as well as the location in the base use case at which the inclusion is to be inserted.

      When describing the flow of events of the base use case, you should refer to the inclusion at the location in which the inclusion is inserted.

      Establish Extend-Relationships Between Use Cases

      If a use case has segments of behavior that are optional or exceptional in character, and that do not add to the understanding of the primary purpose of the use case, factor those out to a new extension use case. The original use case then becomes a base use case, to which the extension use case has an extend-relationship. See also Guideline: Use-Case Model and Guideline: Extend-Relationship.

      In the base use case you declare extension points, which define where in the base use case extensions may be made. See also Guideline: Use Case.

      Complex sub-flows and optional behavior are the first candidates for being partitioned out into extension use cases. Often this behavior can be quite complex and hard to describe: including it in the flow of events of a use case can make the "normal" behavior harder to see. Extracting it should improve the comprehensibility of the use-case model.

      Make sure that the flow of events of the base use case is still complete and understandable by itself, without any reference to the extension use case.

      Only the extension use case knows of the relationship between the two use cases. The base use case only knows it has extension points, it doesn't know what extension use cases are using them.

      Briefly describe every extend-relationship you define. Define the conditions that must be met for the extension to occur. Make sure to define the extension point in the base use case at which the extension should be inserted.

      • If you do not define any conditions, it means the extension always is performed. 
      • If the extension use case has several behavior segments that are to be inserted at different extension points in the base use case, make sure to define these segments and the extension point for each segment in the base use case.
      Establish Generalizations Between Use Cases

      If two or more use cases have similarities in structure and behavior, you can factor out the common behavior to create a new parent use case. The original use cases will then be child use cases in generalization-relationships with the parent. The child use case inherits all behavior described for the parent use case. See also Guideline: Use-Case Model and Guideline: Use-Case Generalization.

      A generalization-relationship between two use cases means that when a use-case instance follows the description of a child use case, it also needs to follow the description of the parent use case in order to be considered complete.

      Generally, for it to be worth it to maintain a parent use case and a generalization-relationship with a child, there needs to be at least two child use cases inheriting from the same parent. An exception is if you have two use cases where one is a specialization of the other, but both need to be independently instantiable.

      Only the child use case knows of the relationship between the two use cases; no parent use case knows what child use cases are specializing it.

      To assist others in understanding the model, you should briefly describe the generalization-relationship. Explain why you created the generalization-relationship.

      In the flow of events of the child use case you need to explain how the child will modify the inherited behavior sequences by inserting new segments of behavior.

      Establish Generalizations Between Actors

      Actors will have common characteristics that you should model by using actor-generalizations. This part of the work is best performed after you have made your first attempts at a use-case model.

      Write a brief description of the actor-generalizations, and include them in use-case diagrams for further clarification.

      For more information, see Guideline: Actor-Generalization.

      Organize the Use-Case Model Content into Packages

      If the use-case model has a large number of elements, you may want to consider organizing the use cases into use-case packages. See Guideline: Use-Case Package for more information on when to consider this option.

      Evaluate Your Results

      You should continuously discuss the incorporation of include-, extend-, and generalization-relationships with the customer and the users, and see that they have a clear understanding of the resulting use cases and actors, and that they agree on their descriptions.

      Check the use-case model at this stage to verify that your work is on track, but do not review the model in detail. You should review and discuss the newly incorporated use cases and relationships with the customer and users so that they have a clear understanding of the use cases and agree on their descriptions.

      For specific recommendations on what to look for during this review, see Checklist: Use-Case Model.

      Key Considerations

      To support the review of the Use-Case Model, you may want to generate a use-case model survey report. For more information, see the Report: Use-Case Model Survey and Tool Mentor: Creating a Use-Case Model Survey Using Rational SoDA.

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