Product Line Engineering

Software Product Line Conference 2008

Posted in Bits'n'Pieces by danilo on July 28, 2008

After 3 years SPLC (2005 in Rennes)  is back in Europe in Limerick, Ireland during the second week in September. I’m wondering whether and how the event will have changed. Especially during the last 12 months I saw a much stronger uptake of SPL ideas in industry. So will there be even more industry at the conference? Will we see a new paradigm for SPLC? I saw some quite interesting papers in the program, for instance “Adding Standardized Variability to Domain Specific Languages”. Maybe it is the answer to the question “Is there a need for a set of generic variability constructs to be included in domain specific languages” . We raised this question during the panel MDD and SPL – a marriage made in heaven?  at the nice Code Generation 2008 conference. We did not agree on a yes or no back then AFAIR.

I will be busy anyway, there is a panel of PL scoping in Practice on Tuesday were I happen to be one of the panelists, we have a pure::variants demo slot on Wednesday (2 other pure::variants related demos in same session) and on Friday there will be my tutorial “Transforming Legacy Systems in Software Product Lines”. Since being this the last activity of the SPLC 2008 we have to celebrate in a pub after this I guess 😉 . I will update some of the tutorial material since I have got a lot of new experience to integrate. However, fitting it in 3 hours  becomes ever more challenging. Talking faster is no solution…

Anyway, see you at SPLC 2008.

Feature Models and Features – What’s this?

Posted in Article by danilo on July 21, 2008

Talking about variability informally is interesting but finally there is a need to capture information about variability in a “standard” way. Of course research and industry found numerous ways to do so. For several reasons, one of the most popular ways to record variability is called feature modeling. This article will try to explain the very basic concepts of feature models. And this article will also try to give hints for answers to the interesting question “What is a feature?”.

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PLE TV: Markus Völter Talks About Managing Variability in Product-Lines

Posted in Bits'n'Pieces by danilo on July 4, 2008

A nice video (about 1 hour) of Markus’ presentation at JAOO 2007. In this presentation (as PDF) he explains general variability concepts and then goes into detail on variability in MDSD, more specifically into a case study done by Siemens as part of the AMPLE project.

I agree to most what he says and much liked the parts showing pure::variants 🙂 . Just to make it clear, I do think that in many cases a combination of variability concepts like positive (composition) and negative variability (selection&configuration) makes very much sense. Rule of thumb is to find the most simple way to express the variability with respect to the stakeholders who should understand the available variability. And often feature models are a good choice for this, especially when non-technical stakeholders are involved.

Versions, Variants and all the rest – Basic definitions

Posted in Article by danilo on July 4, 2008

When talking about product line engineering and variant management, it is important to share a common understanding of some of the basic terms. I learned over the years that the distinction between “version” and “variant” is one of the most complicated ones because in many context outside the product line engineering (PLE) context those terms are used more or less interchangeably. That’s one of the reason why we often get visitors to our show booths saying something like “I see you are doing some kind of version management, what are you doing differently compared <put name of a version control system here>”. In the following text I will try to give simple definitions for all the relevant terms around versions and variants as I use them. I will also try to illustrate who those things related together and explain why they often are seen as describing the same thing.

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