CaseComplete


Entry Updated 4/17/2008 at 12:26 AM

It is rare I crow about a product the day I install it. I am generally a bit too cautious for that. But this is a case when I will take a chance that I am going to find something negative about a specific product later and take a chance.

Background

I am currently in the midst of writing use cases for my organization. I downloaded the MFC templates and started using them for Usage Scenarios. I did not like the way the usage scenarios were set up, so I added my own bits to the mix. Then, I slogged through the pain of setting up specific usage scenarios from a list, going up and down. I also spent a lot of time setting up actor descriptions, in another document, a glossary, in another document. The system is complex enough that I only had a small number of the many usage scenarios (MS use cases) written over many pages of documents.

This exercise was compounded when I had to refactor (there is a word you do not often here with the word use cases) I ended up completely reorganizing the document, wasting precious time. What a pain.

CaseComplete

I then noticed an offer for an NFR license to CaseComplete through the MVP program. I mention this primarily for full disclosure, as I detest blog writers who write bogus reviews to get free products. If you look back to last month, you will see how much I really detest when these jerkwads SPAM up UseNet to bolster their sales. Damn, why do people keep leaving these soapboxes lying around everywhere?

I am not sure I would have sought out CaseComplete if it were not for the offer, which would have been to my detriment. I installed it today and wish I had installed it the day I got the key.

The first thing I did is play with the software and I was rather unimpressed. I saw the potential, but it seemed I was treading a lot of water. We organize use cases by business desire, usage and development time. It can get complex, but this allows you to escalate features (perhaps less used and complex developed features) that an executive absolutely loves. This was not present in the product – or so I thought (more about this in a minute).

The general rule when I feel this way (treading water) is RTFM (Read The Funny Manual for those with sensibilities; you can make the F mean whatever you want). The manual, in this case, was the Tutorial.

After reading through a printed copy (had to take it with me somewhere and did not want to tote the laptop), and making some notes, I began to see the value in the product. One half hour after returning to the computer, I had created a number of users and use cases, organized in packages (and tied to users). I then began to click on the individual use cases and fill them in with details. Along the way, I created Glossary entries to define terms used in the company (Glossaries are mandatory, trust me).

Now, this is not the suggested order in the tutorial, but I was already past the define actor/define goal stage in the process. On the next assignment, where I have not already started in Word, I will probably try the tutorial route and do actors >> goals >> Generate Use Cases >> etc.

Back to treading water: When I created my first use case I noticed I was altering my use case priority to fit their scheme. Then, I RTFMed and found the ability to add my own custom fields to the Use Case definition. Shazam!

Organizing Use Cases and being able to easily refactor cases, add additional users and link to Use Cases, etc. is great. What really jazzed me and got me writing was the ability to create  a wide variety of documentation from the tool. And, if that is not enough, the ability to create my own document templates to slice and dice the use cases I have created. Just before I started this article, I also found an export to Microsoft Project option. I do not have enough information entered yet to get a good Project file, but the export feature will certainly save me a lot of time when I do. Woo Hoo!!!

Now, I was bummed for a bit when I realized I had a use case in the wrong package. Double clicking I found the use case number was still under another package number scheme. Bummer. So, I recreated it. After all it was only a name. RTFM again and I find a renumber feature. One quick dialog box and I can renumber any number of packages. And, since it is essentially a database, it renumbers all of the links as well. Oh, and I can turn on a track changes feature before turning this loose on another "business analyst" (hat I am wearing right now).

My Findings

What started as a painful week has now turned into fun. So much so, I am here are 10 PM getting ready to finish up a few more use cases. I was dreading getting back into this process, as it was taking WAY too much time.

The main sticking point, for many, will be the price point. At $595 for a single developer, it may be a bit steep, especially for smaller shops. On the other hand, if it saves you a couple of days work (especially at consultant’s rates), you have already paid for the product with requirements for a single project. And, after the Word document route, I think it can easily save the number of hours necessary at an advanced developer’s pay grade.

I have now googled and not found a decent alternative, so I cannot definitively state CaseComplete is the best of breed. I do see a wide variety of UML tools and templates, however, which lead me back to writing in Word. There is one called Use Case Studio, which sounds promising, but no screenshots. Perhaps someone has some other links?

After playing for a couple of hours, I am even more jazzed. While I did find that you can error out the product by attempting to play with the preferred field definitions (ouch), I absolutely love the documentation and the fact I can customize the look of the documentation. What was taking me days is only taking hours. In addition, as I play more, I am finding missing requirements just by the way the product is organized.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

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One Response to CaseComplete

  1. Les says:

    Thanks, very useful information.

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