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The terms are often conflated today, but for the discerning:


  • Use case refers more commonly to the procedural steps a user takes to get something done:
    • Knead the flour, add some salt, place in oven, wait 30 minutes.

Use case refers more commonly to the procedural steps a user takes to get something done:

Example: Knead the flour, add some salt, place in oven, wait 30 minutes.

  • User story attempts to capture the experience narrative of the user. This includes the procedural steps in a use case, but also the user's goals, motivation, incentives, and sometimes emotional experience.
    • User is a baker, and needs to bake bread quickly and consistently every morning at 5am. She is often tired and it's easy to make mistakes at that hour. The user bakes bread by [insert procedural steps here].

User story attempts to capture the experience narrative of the user. This includes the procedural steps in a use case, but also the user's goals, motivation, incentives, and sometimes emotional experience.

Example: User is a baker, and needs to bake bread quickly and consistently 
every morning at 5am.  She is often tired and it's easy to make 
mistakes at that hour. The user bakes bread by 
[insert procedural steps here].  

While there are reasonably formal definitions of each within specific contexts (for example, in UML a use case can be formally modeled, and user stories are a formal component of the Agile programming process), I don't think there is broad consistency of use, so I've tried to use a vernacular definition above.

For exampleNotably, the Wikipedia entries for Use Case and User Story use context- and usage- qualifiers to define the terms, because of the ambiguity.

The terms are often conflated today, but for the discerning:


  • Use case refers more commonly to the procedural steps a user takes to get something done:
    • Knead the flour, add some salt, place in oven, wait 30 minutes.

  • User story attempts to capture the experience narrative of the user. This includes the procedural steps in a use case, but also the user's goals, motivation, incentives, and sometimes emotional experience.
    • User is a baker, and needs to bake bread quickly and consistently every morning at 5am. She is often tired and it's easy to make mistakes at that hour. The user bakes bread by [insert procedural steps here].

While there are reasonably formal definitions of each within specific contexts (for example, in UML a use case can be formally modeled), I don't think there is broad consistency of use, so I've tried to use a vernacular definition above.

For example, the Wikipedia entries for Use Case and User Story use context and usage qualifiers to define the terms, because of the ambiguity.

The terms are often conflated today, but for the discerning:


Use case refers more commonly to the procedural steps a user takes to get something done:

Example: Knead the flour, add some salt, place in oven, wait 30 minutes.

User story attempts to capture the experience narrative of the user. This includes the procedural steps in a use case, but also the user's goals, motivation, incentives, and sometimes emotional experience.

Example: User is a baker, and needs to bake bread quickly and consistently 
every morning at 5am.  She is often tired and it's easy to make 
mistakes at that hour. The user bakes bread by 
[insert procedural steps here].  

While there are reasonably formal definitions of each within specific contexts (for example, in UML a use case can be formally modeled, and user stories are a formal component of the Agile programming process), I don't think there is broad consistency of use, so I've tried to use a vernacular definition above.

Notably, the Wikipedia entries for Use Case and User Story use context- and usage- qualifiers to define the terms, because of the ambiguity.

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source | link

The terms are often conflated today, but for the discerning:


  • Use case refers more commonly to the procedural steps a user takes to get something done:
    • Knead the flour, add some salt, place in oven, wait 30 minutes.

  • User story attempts to capture the experience narrative of the user. This includes the procedural steps in a use case, but also the user's goals, motivation, incentives, and sometimes emotional experience.
    • User is a baker, and needs to bake bread quickly and consistently every morning at 5am. She is often tired and it's easy to make mistakes at that hour. The user bakes bread by [insert procedural steps here].

While there are reasonably formal definitions of each within specific contexts (for example, in UML a use case can be formally modeled), I don't think there is broad consistency of use, so I've tried to use a vernacular definition above.

For example, the Wikipedia entries for Use Case and User Story use context and usage qualifiers to define the terms, because of the ambiguity.