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A new approach to product line engineering in model-based requirements engineering


Stoiber, Reinhard. A new approach to product line engineering in model-based requirements engineering. 2012, University of Zurich, Faculty of Economics.

Abstract

Variability modeling is a major issue in requirements engineering for software product lines. Existing state-of-the-art approaches heavily leverage the principle of separation of concerns by specifying the requirements model in multiple separate diagrams (for example, the UML) and using orthogonal variability modeling to describe commonality and variability (for example, feature models). Mapping-based approaches are further used to accurately specify the variability's impact on the requirements model. However, this makes variability-related requirements engineering activities unnecessarily cumbersome, since the specification of variable features is not handled as a primary concern, but rather scattered over many separate diagrams.This thesis presents a new approach that builds on different premises, which neither require variability mappings nor an orthogonal variability model. Instead of separating the requirements model into multiple diagrams, a fully integrated requirements modeling language and tool support for view generation are used. Instead of using an orthogonal variability model and a specific variability mapping approach, a compositional approach is used. On this basis a new, fully-fledged product line requirements modeling approach has been developed. The approach is parsimonious in the sense that it aims at extending an existing language as little as possible. It also allows a fine-grained specification of cross-cutting features and their functional dependencies, when needed. It allows the requirements and variability model to be visualized in a single view and more abstract views at arbitrary levels of abstraction to be generated. It provides novel support for product derivation that can visualize both a decision's impact on the product's functionality and on other variability decisions in the same diagram and tool. It continuously verifies the satisfiability of the model and allows advanced automated analyses such as constraint propagation, based on Boolean satisfiability (SAT) solving. In addition it provides advanced support for variability model creation and evolution by allowing a straightforward, semi-automated extraction and composition of any identified variable feature.The empirical validation presented in this thesis is four-fold. First, a constructive tool implementation proves technical feasibility. Second, the modeling of several real-world examples along with state-of-the-art solutions shows practical feasibility. Third, a rigorous performance analysis verifies that SAT solving scales well for models of this new type, which proves that the presented automated variability analysis solution is feasible. And fourth, a recent real-world case study compares the practical performance of the presented approach with an industry-strength and state-of-the-art solution and shows considerable benefits of the presented approach. This thesis contributes a complete description of this new approach, which is mainly based on the ADORA requirements and architecture modeling language. The presented approach is of a general nature, however, and we expect our empirical results to yield equally encouraging data also with any other language that satisfies the approach's prerequisites. We hope that this integrated approach to requirements modeling (or conceptual modeling in general) and variability modeling will soon also be applied with other modeling languages. The presented work will possibly lead to an emergence of new types of tools that can also visualize existing product line models (for example, specified with UML and feature modeling) in a new, integrated and flexible manner, as presented in this thesis. This could profoundly change and improve the way engineers and analysts visualize and deal with variability in software models in the future.

Variability modeling is a major issue in requirements engineering for software product lines. Existing state-of-the-art approaches heavily leverage the principle of separation of concerns by specifying the requirements model in multiple separate diagrams (for example, the UML) and using orthogonal variability modeling to describe commonality and variability (for example, feature models). Mapping-based approaches are further used to accurately specify the variability's impact on the requirements model. However, this makes variability-related requirements engineering activities unnecessarily cumbersome, since the specification of variable features is not handled as a primary concern, but rather scattered over many separate diagrams.This thesis presents a new approach that builds on different premises, which neither require variability mappings nor an orthogonal variability model. Instead of separating the requirements model into multiple diagrams, a fully integrated requirements modeling language and tool support for view generation are used. Instead of using an orthogonal variability model and a specific variability mapping approach, a compositional approach is used. On this basis a new, fully-fledged product line requirements modeling approach has been developed. The approach is parsimonious in the sense that it aims at extending an existing language as little as possible. It also allows a fine-grained specification of cross-cutting features and their functional dependencies, when needed. It allows the requirements and variability model to be visualized in a single view and more abstract views at arbitrary levels of abstraction to be generated. It provides novel support for product derivation that can visualize both a decision's impact on the product's functionality and on other variability decisions in the same diagram and tool. It continuously verifies the satisfiability of the model and allows advanced automated analyses such as constraint propagation, based on Boolean satisfiability (SAT) solving. In addition it provides advanced support for variability model creation and evolution by allowing a straightforward, semi-automated extraction and composition of any identified variable feature.The empirical validation presented in this thesis is four-fold. First, a constructive tool implementation proves technical feasibility. Second, the modeling of several real-world examples along with state-of-the-art solutions shows practical feasibility. Third, a rigorous performance analysis verifies that SAT solving scales well for models of this new type, which proves that the presented automated variability analysis solution is feasible. And fourth, a recent real-world case study compares the practical performance of the presented approach with an industry-strength and state-of-the-art solution and shows considerable benefits of the presented approach. This thesis contributes a complete description of this new approach, which is mainly based on the ADORA requirements and architecture modeling language. The presented approach is of a general nature, however, and we expect our empirical results to yield equally encouraging data also with any other language that satisfies the approach's prerequisites. We hope that this integrated approach to requirements modeling (or conceptual modeling in general) and variability modeling will soon also be applied with other modeling languages. The presented work will possibly lead to an emergence of new types of tools that can also visualize existing product line models (for example, specified with UML and feature modeling) in a new, integrated and flexible manner, as presented in this thesis. This could profoundly change and improve the way engineers and analysts visualize and deal with variability in software models in the future.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Glinz Martin, Czarnecki Krzysztof
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:05 Feb 2013 10:19
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:28
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=NEBIS&CON_LNG=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=007604470
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:7409
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-73131

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