Your browser does not support JavaScript!

access icon free Why use case specifications are hard to use in generating prototypes?

Requirements communication is essential in software development projects since customer needs must be communicated to the development team clearly and effectively. Although the use case (UC) specifications are used to communicate requirements in detail, developers do not always follow them. This study presents an empirical study carried out to understand the reasons why developers do not follow UC specifications and their difficulties using UC specifications in generating prototypes. Results show that the four reasons why developers fail to follow UC specifications are the existence of specification errors, ambiguous information, lack of detailed specification, or incomplete information, and due to improvement suggestions. Also, the specification defects types that impacted prototypes creation the most were an omission, ambiguity, and incorrect fact. The authors noted that 6 out of 25 (24%) defects in the UC specifications caused discrepancies in prototypes, 12 (48%) were corrected during the prototypes creation, and 7 (28%) were not propagated to the prototypes.


    1. 1)
      • 7. Anda, B., Hansen, K., Sand, G.: ‘An investigation of use case quality in a large safety-critical software development project’, Inf. Softw. Technol., 2009, 51, (12), pp. 16991711. DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2009.04.005.
    2. 2)
      • 5. Ibriwesh, I., Ho, S.B., Chai, I., et al: ‘A controlled experiment on comparison of data perspectives for software requirements documentation’, Arab. J. Sci. Eng., 2017, 42, (8), pp. 31753189. DOI: 10.1007/s13369-017-2425-2.
    3. 3)
      • 22. Seaman, C.B.: ‘Qualitative methods in empirical studies of software engineering’, IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng., 1999, 25, (4), pp. 557572. DOI: 10.1109/32.799955.
    4. 4)
      • 9. Mohagheghi, P., Anda, B., Conradi, R.: ‘Effort estimation of use cases for incremental large-scale software development’. 27th Int. Conf. Software Engineering, MO, USA, 2005, pp. 303311. DOI: 10.1145/1062455.1062516.
    5. 5)
      • 12. Bjarnason, E., Unterkalmsteiner, M., Borg, M., et al: ‘A multi-case study of agile requirements engineering and the use of test cases as requirements’, Inf. Softw. Technol., 2016, 77, pp. 6179. DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2016.03.008.
    6. 6)
      • 4. Hoisl, B., Sobernig, S., Strembeck, M.: ‘Comparing three notations for defining scenario-based model tests: a controlled experiment’. Intl. Conf. Quality of Information and Communications Technology, Guimaraes, Portugal, 2014, pp. 180189. DOI: 10.1109/QUATIC.2014.62.
    7. 7)
      • 13. Tiwari, S., Gupta, A.: ‘A systematic literature review of use case specifications research’, Inf. Softw. Technol., 2015, 67, pp. 128158. DOI: 1016/j.infsof.2015.06.004.
    8. 8)
      • 20. Travassos, G., Shull, F., Fredericks, M., et al: ‘Detecting defects in object-oriented designs: using reading techniques to increase software quality’, ACM SIGPLAN Not., 1999, 34, (10), pp. 4756. DOI: cfm?id=320389.
    9. 9)
      • 23. Höst, M., Regnell, B., Wohlin, C.: ‘Using students as subjects – a comparative study of students and professionals in lead-time impact assessment’, Empir. Softw. Eng., 2000, 5, (3), pp. 201214. DOI: 10.1023/A:1026586415054.
    10. 10)
      • 2. Tu, Y.C., Tempero, E., Thomborson, C.: ‘An experiment on the impact of transparency on the effectiveness of requirements documents’, Empir. Softw. Eng., 2016, 21, (3), pp. 10351066. DOI: 10.1007/s10664-015-9374-8.
    11. 11)
      • 18. Liskin, O.: ‘How artifacts support and impede requirements communication’. Int. Working Conf. Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality, Essen, Germany, 2015, pp. 132147. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16101-3_9.
    12. 12)
      • 19. Anish, P.R., Daneva, M., Cleland-Huang, J., et al: ‘What you ask is what you get: understanding architecturally significant functional requirements’. Requirements Engineering Conf., ON, Canada, 2015, pp. 8695. DOI: 10.1109/RE.2015.7320411.
    13. 13)
      • 14. Jacobson, I., Christerson, M., Jonsson, P., et al: ‘Object-oriented software engineering: a use case driven approach’ (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1992).
    14. 14)
      • 24. Salman, n, Misirli, A.T., Juristo, N.: ‘Are students representatives of professionals in software engineering experiments?’. Int. Conf. Software Engineering, Florence, Italy, 2015, pp. 666676. DOI: 10.1109/ICSE.2015.82.
    15. 15)
      • 1. Stapel, K., Knauss, E., Schneider, K: ‘Using flow to improve communication of requirements in globally distributed software projects’. Collaboration and Intercultural Issues Requirements: Communication, Understanding and Soft skills, 2009, pp. 514. DOI: 10.1109/CIRCUS.2009.6.
    16. 16)
      • 15. Phalp, K.T., Vincent, J., Cox, K.: ‘Assessing the quality of use case descriptions’, Softw. Qual. J., 2007, 15, (1), pp. 6997. DOI: 10.1007/s11219-006-9006-z.
    17. 17)
      • 17. Oran, A.C., Nascimento, E., Santos, G., et al: ‘Analysing requirements communication using use case specification and user stories’. Brazilian Symp. Software Engineering, CE, Brazil, 2017, pp. 214223. DOI: 10.1145/3131151.3131166.
    18. 18)
      • 10. Chelimsky, D., Astels, D., Helmkamp, B., et al: ‘The RSpec book: behaviour driven development with RSpec’, in Carter, J. (Eds.): ‘Cucumber, and friends’ (Pragmatic Bookshelf, New York, NY, USA, 2010, p. 25).
    19. 19)
      • 6. SOFTEX: ‘MPS.BR – implementation guide – part 1: rationale for MR-MPS-SW level g implementation: 2012’. Available at, accessed 13 March 2018.
    20. 20)
      • 16. Anda, B., Sjøberg, D.: ‘Towards an inspection technique for use case models’. Proc. 14th Int. Conf. Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering, ACM, NY, USA, 2002, pp. 127134. DOI: 10.1145/568760.568785.
    21. 21)
      • 8. Cockburn, A.: ‘Writing effective use cases’ (Addison-Wesley Reading, Boston, 2001).
    22. 22)
      • 3. Fernández, D.M., Wagner, S., Kalinowski, M., et al: ‘Naming the pain in requirements engineering’, Empir. Softw. Eng., 2017, 22, (5), pp. 22982338. DOI: 10.1007/s10664-016-9451-7.
    23. 23)
      • 11. Luna, E.R., Panach, J.I., Grigera, J., et al: ‘Incorporating usability requirements in a test/model-driven web engineering approach’, J. Web Eng., 2010, 9, (2), pp. 132156. DOI: cfm?id=2011312.
    24. 24)
      • 21. de França, B.B.N., Ribeiro, T.V., dos Santos, P.S.M., et al: ‘Using focus group in software engineering: lessons learned on characterizing software technologies in academia and industry’. Ibero-American Conf. Software Engineering, Lima, Peru, 2015, pp. 351364.

Related content

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address