Automated Software Engineering

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 687–733 | Cite as

Reasoning about product-line evolution using complex feature model differences

  • Johannes Bürdek
  • Timo KehrerEmail author
  • Malte Lochau
  • Dennis Reuling
  • Udo Kelter
  • Andy Schürr


Features define common and variable parts of the members of a (software) product line. Feature models are used to specify the set of all valid feature combinations. Feature models not only enjoy an intuitive tree-like graphical syntax, but also a precise formal semantics, which can be denoted as propositional formulae over Boolean feature variables. A product line usually constitutes a long-term investment and, therefore, has to undergo continuous evolution to meet ever-changing requirements. First of all, product-line evolution leads to changes of the feature model due to its central role in the product-line paradigm. As a result, product-line engineers are often faced with the problems that (1) feature models are changed in an ad-hoc manner without proper documentation, and (2) the semantic impact of feature diagram changes is unclear. In this article, we propose a comprehensive approach to tackle both challenges. For (1), our approach compares the old and new version of the diagram representation of a feature model and specifies the changes using complex edit operations on feature diagrams. In this way, feature model changes are automatically detected and formally documented. For (2), we propose an approach for reasoning about the semantic impact of diagram changes. We present a set of edit operations on feature diagrams, where complex operations are primarily derived from evolution scenarios observed in a real-world case study, i.e., a product line from the automation engineering domain. We evaluated our approach to demonstrate its applicability with respect to the case study, as well as its scalability concerning experimental data sets.


Software evolution Model-driven engineering Software product lines Feature models 



This work was partially supported by the DFG (German Research Foundation) under the Priority Programme SPP 1593: Design For Future—Managed Software Evolution.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Bürdek
    • 1
  • Timo Kehrer
    • 2
    Email author
  • Malte Lochau
    • 1
  • Dennis Reuling
    • 2
  • Udo Kelter
    • 2
  • Andy Schürr
    • 1
  1. 1.Real-Time Systems GroupTU DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Software Engineering GroupUniversity of SiegenSiegenGermany

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