Mapping the design-space of textual variability modeling languages: a refined analysis

  • Holger EichelbergerEmail author
  • Klaus Schmid


Variability modeling is a major part of modern product line engineering. Graphical or table-based approaches to variability modeling are focused around abstract models and specialized tools to interact with these models. However, more recently textual variability modeling languages, comparable to some extent to programming languages, were introduced. We consider the recent trend in product line engineering towards textual variability modeling languages as a phenomenon, which deserves deeper analysis. In this article, we report on the results and approach of a literature survey combined with an expert study. In the literature survey, we identified 11 languages, which enable the textual specification of product line variability and which are sufficiently described for an in-depth analysis. We provide a classification scheme, useful to describe the range of capabilities of such languages. Initially, we identified the relevant capabilities of these languages from a literature survey. The result of this has been refined, validated and partially improved by the expert survey. A second recent phenomenon in product line variability modeling is the increasing scale of variability models. Some authors of textual variability modeling languages argue that these languages are more appropriate for large-scale models. As a consequence, we would expect specific capabilities addressing scalability in the languages. Thus, we compare the capabilities of textual variability modeling techniques, if compared to graphical variability modeling approaches and in particular to analyze their specialized capabilities for large-scale models.


Variability modeling Domain-specific languages Survey Scalability 



We would like to thank the reviewers who contributed to the improvement of this paper. We are also particularly grateful to the colleagues who took part in our expert survey and provided feedback to our classification of their work, namely Michal Antkiewicz, Dave Clarke, Reimar Schröter, Maxime Cordy, Mark-Oliver Reiser, and Tomi Männistö. This work was partially supported by the INDENICA project (grant 257483) and the QualiMaster project (grant 619525), both funded by the European Commission grant in the 7th framework programme, the ScaleLog project funded by the German Ministry of Economics and Energy (grant KF2912401SS) and the EvoLine-Project, funded by DFG within the SPP1593. Any opinions expressed herein are solely by the authors and not of the DFG or any of the other funding agencies.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Software Systems EngineeringUniversity of HildesheimHildesheimGermany

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