The Importance of Use Cases Documents

The Data on the Web Best Practices WG is among those who will be meeting at this year’s TPAC in Santa Clara. As well as a chance for working group members to meet and make good progress, it’s a great opportunity for attendees to drop in to other working group meetings. Most working groups use the occasion to gather new perspectives on their work that can be really helpful in ensuring that the emerging standards meet the needs of the widest community.

In that context, Use Cases and Requirements documents are crucial. This is where working groups collect evidence that informs its work. In a later discussion about whether a feature should or should not be included in a specification, the cry “where’s the use case for that?” is always the show stopper. Prove it’s needed and we’ll work on it. If it’s just a pet idea you have, we probably won’t.

The Data on the Web Best Practices Working Group has an incredibly broad charter. It says that the WG’s mission is:

  1. to develop the open data ecosystem, facilitating better communication between developers and publishers;
  2. to provide guidance to publishers that will improve consistency in the way data is managed, thus promoting the re-use of data;
  3. to foster trust in the data among developers, whatever technology they choose to use, increasing the potential for genuine innovation.

What the heck does that actually mean?

To find out we have gathered more than 20 use cases and derived requirements from them. The recently updated version of the UCR document was published this week so that when we gather at TPAC we can ask a simple question:

have we covered your use case?.

If we have forgotten something – and it’s more than possible that we have – please tell us. You can do this by commenting on the document or, better still, sending in your own use case to (subscribe, archives).

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