Separation of concerns in feature diagram languages: a systematic survey

Hubaux, Arnaud; Tun, Thein Than and Heymans, Patrick (2013). Separation of concerns in feature diagram languages: a systematic survey. ACM Computing Surveys, 45(4), article no. 51.



The need for flexible customisation of large feature-rich software systems, according to requirements of various stakeholders, has become an important problem in software development. Among the many software engineering approaches dealing with variability management, the notion of Software Product Line (SPL) has emerged as a major unifying concept. Drawing from established disciplines of manufacturing, SPL approaches aim to design repertoires of software artefacts, from which customised software systems for specific stakeholder requirements can be developed. A major difficulty SPL approaches attempt to address is the modularisation of software artefacts, which reconciles the user's needs for certain features, and the development and technical constraints. Towards this end, many SPL approaches use feature diagrams to describe possible configurations of a feature set. There have been several proposals for feature diagram languages with varying degrees of expressiveness, intuitiveness, and precision.

However, these feature diagram languages have limited scalability when applied to realistic software systems.

This paper provides a systematic survey of various concerns of feature diagrams and ways in which concerns have been separated. The survey shows how the uncertainty in the purpose of feature diagram languages creates both conceptual and practical limitations to scalability of those languages.

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