Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Model Driven Software Development

VariantSync: Automating the Synchronization of Software Variants


Beyond the Exome

Funding: DFG

Period: 2019 - 2022

Project partner: Dr. Thomas Thüm, TU Braunschweig

Today's software is often released in multiple variants to meet all customer requirements. Software product lines have the potential to decrease development costs and time-tomarket, and have been actively researched for more than two decades. Nevertheless, practitioners frequently rely on ad-hoc reuse based on a principle which is known as clone-and-own, where new variants of a software family are created by copying and adapting an existing variant. However, if a critical number of variants is reached, their maintenance and evolution becomes impractical, if not impossible, and the migration to a product line is often infeasible. With the research conducted in VariantSync, we aim to enable a fundamentally new development approach which bridges the gap between clone-and-own and product lines, combining the minimal overhead of clone-and-own with the systematic handling of variability of software product lines in a highly flexible methodology. The key idea is to transparently integrate the central product-line concept of a feature with variant management facilities known from version control systems in order to automatically synchronize a set of evolving variants. Lifting the underlying techniques employed by version control systems to the abstraction level of features which are shared among variants is an open problem and the main research challenge addressed in VariantSync. We believe that our research results have the potential to effectively change the way how practitioners will develop multi-variant software systems for which it is hard to foresee which variants will be added or released in the future.