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SEI Software Product Lines Course Materials Now Freely Available

SEI Software Product Lines Course Materials Now Freely Available
February 16, 2021 • Article

February 16, 2021—The SEI recently released the materials from its Software Product Lines curriculum under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Anyone can access the course presentations and videos for free from the SEI website.

A software product line is a set of software-intensive systems sharing a common, managed set of features that satisfy the specific needs of a particular market segment or mission and that are developed from a common set of core assets in a prescribed way. By strategically exploiting the commonality and managing the variability of features of related software systems, organizations can increase product quality and reduce cost and time to market. 

From 2003 to 2020, the SEI taught more than 3,500 students from software development organizations, including the Department of Defense (DoD), major defense contractors, and other commercial enterprises, how to adopt and develop software product lines. Over the last few years, the SEI has retired its three related courses and, in late 2020, released their materials:

  • Software Product Lines: This prerequisite course introduces the essential technical and management practices for software product lines and provides guidelines for applying product line techniques.  The eLearning version of this course is also available on the SEI’s YouTube channel.
  • Adopting Software Product Lines: This course describes a practical, phased, pattern-based process to planning and orchestrating software product line adoption. 
  • Developing Software Product Lines: This course focuses on understanding and applying the practice areas needed for software product line mastery. 

This release is part of the SEI’s mission to transition mature technologies and processes to the software engineering community and to accelerate the adoption and impact of software engineering improvements.

In the mid-1990s, the SEI formed a community of interest around software product lines. The Software Product Line Conference, begun by the SEI in 2000, merged with Europe’s Product Family Engineering Conference in 2005 and continues to be held annually.

Over the past two decades, the SEI has produced a substantial body of work on software product lines by codifying practices, writing case studies, honing methods, and producing the first book on the topic. An important practice in successful product line adoption is software architecture, a field that the SEI evolved in parallel with software product lines and continues to research today. Organizations can use the recently released software product lines course materials to help them adapt the business-focused, architecture-centric fundamentals of the SEI’s software product line work to their current needs.

“In 1996, the SEI set out to make software product lines a low-risk, high-return proposition for all organizations,” said SEI Fellow Linda Northrop, who led the SEI’s software architecture and product line efforts and co-wrote the seminal 2001 book Software Product Lines: Practices and Patterns. “Product line thinking is now a part of the culture. Software product line ideas have become ingrained in many other technical strategies such as open architecture and model-based engineering. Still, it is useful to revisit the foundational principles. Recent developments have the potential to make software product lines more doable, pliable, and dynamic, and to accrue even greater benefits.”

Access the Software Product Lines curriculum course materials in the SEI Digital Library. For more information on this topic, browse the SEI’s software product line collection or search for “software product line” on the SEI Blog.