TraCE : Capturing Timeline Variability with Transparent Configuration Environments
Project proposal for Jacquard Program
Managing the variability in software systems is rapidly becoming an
important factor in software development. Instead of developing and
deploying a fixed one-of-a-kind system, it is now common to develop a
family of systems whose members differ with respect to functionality
or technical facilities offered. Variability is represented
conceptually by variation points that identify a set of variants for
which a choice or decision can be made at a particular
moment--binding time--in the development and deployment cycle of a
software system. Depending on the needs of the system's stakeholders,
it may be desirable to allow these decisions to be made at several
moments in time. This timeline variability is an extra dimension to
variability that is often ignored.
Variability decisions are realized via configuration mechanisms, which
are closely tied to specific moments in the deployment cycle. As a
result, the variability in a system is mostly not orthogonal to the
timeline, and often appears to have been designed in an ad-hoc
fashion. Providing several moments at which a decision can be made is
particularly hard to implement and thus seldom provided. Also, the
collection of mechanisms often leads to a complex configuration
The goal of this project is to study the modeling and
realization of variability in modern software systems with an
emphasis on a more general and generic treatment of
timing-issues for variant addition/removal and binding of
variation points, the related effects and the opportunities for
optimization. The vehicle for the research is the development of a
framework for transparent configuration environments which
present a uniform interface to a variety of underlying configuration
mechanisms, thus closing the current gap between variability at the
conceptual and implementation levels. The realization of such
- models of variability that explicitly include timing-issues and
can cope with timeline variability;
- component composition mechanisms that include composition of
variability in components;
- component integration mechanisms that cater for optimization of compositions; and
- methods and techniques for variability discovery in existing systems.
New in this project is the focus on timeline variability and the
integrated treatment of variability spanning several areas including
configuration management, language technology, and software reuse.
The approach we take is application driven --- drawing
inspiration from and validating ideas against existing software ---
and tool-oriented --- developing tools to support transparent
specification and realization of timeline variability.
- Dr Eelco Visser (Principal investigator)
- Ing. Gert Florijn (SERC; consultant)
- Dr Merijn de Jonge (Postdoc, 2004)
- Drs Eelco Dolstra (PhD student 2001 - 2005, Postdoc 2005 - 2008)
- Martin Bravenboer (PhD student 2003 - 2007)
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