Which format is more efficient to describe system behavior: UML Activity Diagram or a Use Case?

This decision needs to be made on a case-by-case basis, taking the following into consideration:

People usually respond to a diagram better than to a written text, however, you can incorporate more detail into a written use case as opposed to a diagram. Therefore, if your goal is to show “the big picture”, a diagram will work better.  If your goal is to finalize all the details of the process, a use case will be the better format as you can also show all of the associated business logic and various alternative scenarios and exceptions, which would make a diagram very difficult to read.

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