SEI Hosts Software Product Line Conference



Pamela D. Curtis

This library item is related to the following area(s) of work:

Software Product Lines

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: December 1, 2002

The SEI sponsored the second Software Product Line Conference (SPLC2) in San Diego, California, August 19–22, 2002. SPLC2 brought together researchers and practitioners in the software community to push the frontiers of software product line technology and to discuss topics such as understanding and managing variability in product lines, organizational and business issues for product lines, and product-line life cycles.

There were 157 attendees, roughly two thirds from the United States and the remaining third from 16 other countries spanning North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Most of the participants were from commercial organizations, but academia and government (especially through government contractors) were well represented. Most of the software product line leaders participated, including Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Philips, Robert Bosch GmBh, Avaya, Motorola, Cummins, Siemens, Ericsson, Thales, and General Motors.

Anders Heie, a software specialist from Nokia Mobile Phones, presented an inspiring keynote talk, “Global Software Product Lines and Infinite Diversity.” Heie described the software architecture and processes that Nokia has created to support the demands of a wide range of new products each year, with requirements coming in from around the world. Other events featured in the conference were seven tutorials; seven workshops, including one that was focused on DoD product line practice; two panels; 24 technical paper presentations; four demonstrations of software product line engineering tools; and several birds-of-a-feather sessions. Heie’s keynote and other presentations are available on the conference Web site, along with information about ordering the conference proceedings.

Conference chair, Linda Northrop, with Len Bass and Henk Obbink, program co-chairs, program co-chairs, at SPLC2

Continuing a practice established at SPLC1, several exemplary product lines were voted into the Software Product Line Hall of Fame. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to improve software product line practice by identifying product lines that represent the highest achievement in the field. Nominations submitted by participants in the last session of the conference generated discussions about what constitutes excellence and success in product lines. Participants then voted on the nominees based on these election criteria:

  • The family that constitutes the product line is clearly identified, that is, there is a way to tell whether or not a software system is a member of the product line, either by applying a known rule or a known enumeration.
  • The family that constitutes the product line is explicitly defined and designed as a product line, that is, the commonalities and variabilities that characterize the members of the product line are known and there is an underlying design for the product line that takes advantage of them.
  • The product line has strongly influenced others who desire to build and evolve product lines, and has gained recognition as a model of what a product line should be and how it should be built. Others have borrowed from it in creating their product lines or in expounding ideas and practices for creating product lines.
  • The product line has been commercially successful.
  • There is sufficient documentation about the product line so that one can understand its definition, design, and implementation without resorting solely to hearsay.

SPLC2 inductees included Cummins’s diesel engine software product line, Philips’s telecommunications switching system, Lucent Technologies’ 5ESSTM telecommunications switch, Boeing’s Bold Stroke avionics software family, and Market Maker Software AG’s Merger software product line. More information about these product lines, as well as descriptions of previous inductees, is available on the SPLC2 Hall of Fame site.

The conference evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. The following were among the comments received:

I very much enjoyed the conference and liked most of the presentations I attended, a much higher percentage than many other conferences. Also the variety of the attendees (many industrials, many Europeans).

The conference was a great success. I enjoyed it very much both from the professional and social viewpoint.

The tutorials were exceptional.

The content and the associated discussions marked a decidedly more mature software product line community than was evidenced at SPLC1—one not without challenges, but one with success stories and approaches to share.

SPLC3 will be held in the United States in autumn 2004. An SPLC Steering Committee that includes SEI and international product line leaders has been formed to direct the conference in coming years.

For more information about the SEI’s work in product line practice, visit the Product Line Systems Web site.

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