Date of Award

12-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Computer Science

Advisor

McGregor, John D

Abstract

Product lines are predicated on collecting assets common to the desired product portfolio, commonly known as the asset base. For many product lines, the size of asset base has become large enough to create a variety of difficulties. The techniques for managing large product line asset bases are unaddressed in the literature.
This research presents new techniques that take advantage of asset base characteristics, unavailable in more general collections, to both reduce the number of assets and to organize the asset base that go beyond what is possible with other software collections. The result is an asset base that is more efficient to use.
Research related to improving the organization of the asset base was performed by taking the component assets of a research SPL and arranging them based on three different organizational criteria - according to the structure of the architecture, important abstractions (Key Domain Abstractions), and product features. The three resulting organizations were then studied using four evaluation criteria - natural division of assets into groups (assets fit into the groups provided by the organization), easy to map assets to organization criteria (mapping between the selection of a particular product variant and the assets needed to produce it), reasonably sized groups, and similarly sized groups. The effectiveness of the different organizations was then compared and recommendations concerning asset base organization provided.
The literature indicates that large product lines are likely to contain multiple assets that provide the same functionality, but that differ in the program context that they support. The presence of the duplicative assets creates a number of problems including organization difficulties. In a SPL these differences in program context are the result of requirements expressed at the product`s variation points. The limited differences in program context make it practical to attempt to provide a modular solution which permits the desired variation to be assembled as needed. The research explored a number of different implementation mechanisms to provide these modular variation points. The result is a recommendation on how to implement SPL variation points provided in the form of a pattern language.

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