Evaluating Support for Features in Advanced Modularization Technologies

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A software product-line is a family of related programs. Each program is defined by a unique combination of features, where a feature is an increment in program functionality. Modularizing features is difficult, as feature-specific code often cuts across class boundaries. New modularization technologies have been proposed in recent years, but their support for feature modules has not been thoroughly examined. In this paper, we propose a variant of the expression problem as a canonical problem in product-line design. The problem reveals a set of technology-independent properties that feature modules should exhibit. We use these properties to evaluate five technologies: AspectJ, Hyper/J, Jiazzi, Scala, and AHEAD. The results suggest an abstract model of feature composition that is technology-independent and that relates compositional reasoning with algebraic reasoning.