What’s a Scenario

Photo by Wonderlane

What’s a scenario?  Not everybody uses the term “scenario” the same way.  In the software industry, there’s three common usages of scenario:

  1. The same as a use case.
  2. A path through a use case.
  3. An instance of a use case.
Usually, the most helpful one is “an instance of a use case.”  Why?  Because if a scenario is an instance of a use case, then it’s testable with concrete data.
Lessons Learned at Microsoft
At Microsoft, when there’s a customer challenge to solve, it’s common to ask “what’s the scenario?”  This simply means, what’s the context or what is the customer trying to accomplish.  This could be macro-level, end-to-end scenario, or it could be a micro-level, more fine-grained scenario.  Knowing the scenario is key since you can’t evaluate an architecture in a vacuum.  Context is everything.
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