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Variant comparison - a technique for visualizing software variants

: Duszynski, Slawomir; Knodel, Jens; Naab, Matthias; Hein, Dirk; Schitter, Clemens

Kaiserslautern, 2008, VII, 13 S. : Ill., Lit.
IESE-Report, 052.08/E
Reportnr.: 052.08/E
Fraunhofer IESE ()
product line engineering; software architecture; technology transfer; variability management; variation factor; visualization; SAVE; ArQuE

Successful software systems evolve over time and are typically tailored to individual customer needs. Consequently, these adaptations result in multiple variants of the system. These multiple variants impose a challenge on the development organizations because the variation points are often neither explicitly known nor managed, and emerge uncontrolled. In this paper, we propose a technique that visualizes the variation points on the level of the software architecture. The technique - called variant comparison - has been successfully applied in one internal and two industrial studies. This paper summarizes our practical experience in the application of variant comparison. Further, we discuss our lessons learned on how the variant comparison can enable explicit variability management in a development organization.