Comparative analysis of variability modelling approaches in component models

Comparative analysis of variability modelling approaches in component models

For access to this article, please select a purchase option:

Buy article PDF
(plus tax if applicable)
Buy Knowledge Pack
10 articles for £75.00
(plus taxes if applicable)

IET members benefit from discounts to all IET publications and free access to E&T Magazine. If you are an IET member, log in to your account and the discounts will automatically be applied.

Learn more about IET membership 

Recommend Title Publication to library

You must fill out fields marked with: *

Librarian details
Your details
Why are you recommending this title?
Select reason:
IET Software — Recommend this title to your library

Thank you

Your recommendation has been sent to your librarian.

The results of a systematic literature review conducted for variability modelling in software component models are analysed and presented here. A well-planned protocol guided the screening of 3230 papers that resulted in the identification of 55 papers. Reviewing these papers, 23 of them were considered as primary studies related to our research questions. A comparison framework is introduced to further understand, assess, and compare those selected papers. Observations about the important aspects of component models that support the variability capability are summarised. Prominent trends and approaches are discussed along with a comparative analysis of the component models. Only a few component models were found to be explicitly accommodating variability concerns. The identified variability modelling problems require further research for attaining better reuse capabilities.


    1. 1)
      • 1. Crnkovic, I., Sentilles, S., Vulgarakis, A., et al: ‘A classification framework for software component models’, IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng., 2011, 37, (5), pp. 593615.
    2. 2)
      • 2. Lau, K.K., Wang, Z.: ‘Software component models’, IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng., 2007, 33, (10), pp. 709724.
    3. 3)
      • 3. Lau, K.K., Wang, Z.: ‘A taxonomy of software component models’. Proc. 31st EUROMICRO Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications, Porto, Portugal, August 2005, pp. 8895.
    4. 4)
      • 4. Liaskos, S., Lapouchnian, A., Yu, Y., et al: ‘On goal-based variability acquisition and analysis’. Proc. 14th IEEE Int. Requirements Engineering Conf. (RE'06), Minneapolis/St Paul, USA, September 2006, pp. 1115.
    5. 5)
      • 5. Sinnema, M., Deelstra, S.: ‘Classifying variability modeling techniques’, Inf. Softw. Technol., 2007, 49, (7), pp. 717739.
    6. 6)
      • 6. Chen, L., Ali Babar, M., Ali, N.: ‘Variability management in software product lines: a systematic review’. Proc. 13th Int. Software Product Line Conf., San Francisco, California, USA, August 2009, pp. 8190.
    7. 7)
      • 7. Berger, T., Rublack, R., Nair, D., et al: ‘A survey of variability modeling in industrial practice’. Proc. 7th Int. Workshop on Variability Modelling of Software-intensive Systems, Pisa, Italy, January 2013.
    8. 8)
      • 8. Metzger, A., Pohl, K.: ‘Software product line engineering and variability management: achievements and challenges’. Proc. Future of Software Engineering, Hyderabad, India, May 2014, pp. 7084.
    9. 9)
      • 9. Galster, M., Weyns, D., Tofan, D., et al: ‘Variability in software systems – a systematic literature review’, IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng., 2014, 40, (3), pp. 282306.
    10. 10)
      • 10. Eichelberger, H., Schmid, K.: ‘A systematic analysis of textual variability modeling languages’. Proc. 17th Int. Software Product Line Conf., Tokyo, Japan, August 2013, pp. 1221.
    11. 11)
      • 11. Kitchenham, B., Charters, S.: ‘Guidelines for performing systematic literature reviews in software engineering’. EBSE Technical Report Version 2.3, Software Engineering Group, School of Computer Science and Mathematics, Keele University, 2007.
    12. 12)
      • 12. Autosar, G.: ‘AUTOSAR-technical overview’, V2. 0.1, 2006.
    13. 13)
      • 13. Basu, A., Bozga, M., Sifakis, J.: ‘Modeling heterogeneous real-time components in BIP’. Proc. 4th IEEE Int. Conf. on Software Engineering and Formal Methods, Pune, India, September 2006, pp. 312.
    14. 14)
      • 14. Kim, J.E., Rogalla, O., Kramer, S., et al: ‘Extracting, specifying and predicting software system properties in component based real-time embedded software development’. Proc. 31st Int. Conf. on Software Engineering-Companion Volume, Vancouver, BC, Canada, May 2009, pp. 2838.
    15. 15)
      • 15. OMG CORBA Component Model v4.0’. Available at, accessed June 2017.
    16. 16)
      • 16. Ke, X., Sierszecki, K., Angelov, C.: ‘COMDES-II: A component-based framework for generative development of distributed real-time control systems’. Proc. 13th IEEE Int. Conf. on Embedded and Real-Time Computing Systems and Applications, Daegu, South Korea, August 2007, pp. 199208.
    17. 17)
      • 17. Bastide, R., Barboni, E., Schyn, A.: ‘Component-based behavioural modelling with high-level petri nets’. Proc. MOCA'04-3rd Workshop on Modelling of Objects, Components and Agents, Aahrus, Denmark, October 2004, pp. 3746.
    18. 18)
      • 18. ‘JSR 345: Enterprise JavaBeansTM, Version 3.2 EJB Core Contracts and Requirements’, EJB 3.2 Expert Group, April 2013.
    19. 19)
      • 19. Bruneton, E., Coupaye, T., Stefani, J.: ‘The fractal component model specification’. Technical Report, The ObjectWeb Consortium. Available at, 2004.
    20. 20)
      • 20. van Ommering, R., van der Linden, F., Kramer, J., et al: ‘The koala component model for consumer electronics software’, Computer, 2000, 33, (3), pp. 7885.
    21. 21)
      • 21. Atkinson, C., Bayer, J., Bunse, C., et al: ‘Component-based product line engineering with UML’ (Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc., Boston, MA, USA, 2002).
    22. 22)
      • 22. ‘Application and implementation of IEC 61131-3’, IEC, 1995.
    23. 23)
      • 23. IEC: ‘IEC 61499 function blocks for embedded and distributed control systems design’, IEC, 2005.
    24. 24)
      • 24. Javabeans Specification: ‘Sun Microsystems’. Available at, 1997.
    25. 25)
      • 25. Box, D.: ‘Essential COM’ (Object Technology Series. Addison-Wesley, Massachusetts, USA, 1997).
    26. 26)
      • 26. Clarke, M., Blair, G., Coulson, G., et al: ‘An efficient component model for the construction of adaptive middleware’. Proc. IFIP/ACM Int'l Conf. Distributed Systems Platforms, Heidelberg, Germany, November 2001, pp. 160178.
    27. 27)
      • 27. ‘OSGi service platform core specification, V4.1’, OSGi Alliance, 2007.
    28. 28)
      • 28. Becker, S., Koziolek, H., Reussner, R.: ‘Model-based performance prediction with the palladio component model’. Proc. 6th Int'l Workshop Software and Performance, Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 2007, pp. 5465.
    29. 29)
      • 29. Winter, M., Zeidler, C., Stich, C.: ‘The PECOS software process’. Proc. Workshop on Components-Based Software Development Processes, Austin, TX, USA, April 2002.
    30. 30)
      • 30. Hissam, S., Ivers, J., Plakosh, D., et al: ‘Pin component technology (V1.0) and its C interface’, Technical Note: CMU/SEI-2005-TN-001. Available at, April 2005.
    31. 31)
      • 31. Sentilles, S., Vulgarakis, A., Bures, T., et al: ‘A component model for control-intensive distributed embedded systems’. Proc. 11th Int'l Symp. Component Based Software Engineering, Karlsruhe, Germany, October 2008, pp. 310317.
    32. 32)
      • 32. Maaskant, H.: ‘A robust component model for consumer electronic products’, in van der Stok, P. (Ed.): ‘Dynamic and robust streaming in and between connected consumer-electronic devices’ (Springer, Dordrecht, 2005), pp. 167192.
    33. 33)
      • 33. Hanninen, K., Maki-Turja, J., Nolin, M., et al: ‘The rubus component model for resource constrained real-time systems’. Proc. Int'l Symp. Industrial Embedded Systems, Le Grande Motte, France, June 2008, pp. 177183.
    34. 34)
      • 34. Akerholm, M., Carlson, J., Fredriksson, J., et al: ‘The SAVE approach to component-based development of vehicular systems’, J. Syst. Softw., 2007, 80, (5), pp. 655667.
    35. 35)
      • 35. Bures, T., Hnetynka, P., Plasil, F.: ‘SOFA 2.0: balancing advanced features in a hierarchical component model’. Proc. Int'l Conf. Software Engineering, Research, Management and Applications, Seattle, WA, USA, August 2006, pp. 4048.
    36. 36)
      • 36. Schmoelzer, G., Kreiner, C., Thonhauser, M.: ‘Platform design for software product lines of data-intensive systems’. Proc. 33rd EUROMICRO Conf. on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications, Lubeck, Germany, August 2007, pp. 109120.
    37. 37)
      • 37. Bencomo, N., Blair, G.: ‘Using architecture models to support the generation and operation of component-based adaptive systems’, in Cheng, B. (Ed.): ‘Software engineering for self-adaptive systems, LNCS, 5525 (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg), pp. 183200.
    38. 38)
      • 38. Phung-Khac, A.: ‘A model-driven feature-based approach to runtime adaptation of distributed software architectures’. PhD thesis, Telecom Bretagne, 2010.
    39. 39)
      • 39. Moisan, S., Rigault, J.P., Acher, M., et al: ‘Run time adaptation of video-surveillance systems: a software modeling approach’. Proc. Int. Conf. on Computer Vision Systems, Sophia Antipolis, France, September 2011, pp. 203212.
    40. 40)
      • 40. Parra, C., Blanc, X., Cleve, A., et al: ‘Unifying design and runtime software adaptation using aspect models’, Sci. Comput. Program., 2011, 76, (12), pp. 12471260.
    41. 41)
      • 41. Groher, I., Weinreich, R.: ‘Supporting variability management in architecture design and implementation’. Proc. 46th Hawaii Int. Conf. on System Sciences (HICSS), Wailea, Maui, HI, USA, January 2013, pp. 49955004.
    42. 42)
      • 42. Webers, W., Thörn, C., Sandkuhl, K.: ‘Connecting feature models and AUTOSAR: an approach supporting requirements engineering in automotive industries’. Proc. Int. Working Conf. on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality, Montpellier, France, June 2008, pp. 95108.
    43. 43)
      • 43. Mann, S., Rock, G.: ‘Dealing with variability in architecture descriptions to support automotive product lines’. Proc. 3rd Int. Workshop on Variability Modelling of Software-Intensive Systems, Seville, Spain, January 2009, pp. 111120.
    44. 44)
      • 44. Jacques, T., Dziobek, C., Hedenetz, B.: ‘Variability management in the AUTOSAR-based development of applications for in-vehicle systems’. Proc. 5th Workshop on Variability Modeling of Software-Intensive Systems, Namur, Belgium, January 2011, pp. 137140.
    45. 45)
      • 45. Leitner, A., Kajtazovic, N., Mader, R.: ‘Lightweight introduction of EAST-ADL2 in an automotive software product line’. Proc. 45th Hawaii Int. Conf. on System Science (HICSS), Maui, HI, USA, January 2012, pp. 55265535.
    46. 46)
      • 46. Schulze, M., Weiland, J., Beuche, D.: ‘Automotive model-driven development and the challenge of variability’. Proc. 16th Int. Software Product Line Conf. – Volume 1, Salvador, Brazil, September 2012, pp. 207214.
    47. 47)
      • 47. Salikiryaki, A., Petrova, I.: ‘Graphical approach for variability management in safety-critical product lines’. Master thesis, Mälardalen University, 2015.
    48. 48)
      • 48. Brugali, D., Gherardi, L., Biziak, A., et al: ‘A reuse-oriented development process for component-based robotic systems’. Proc. Int. Conf. on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots, Tsukuba, Japan, November 2012, pp. 361374.
    49. 49)
      • 49. Froschauer, R., Zoitl, A., Grunbacher, P.: ‘Development and adaptation of IEC 61499 automation and control applications with runtime variability models’. Proc. 7th IEEE Int. Conf. on Industrial Informatics, Cardiff, Wales, UK, June 2009, pp. 905910.
    50. 50)
      • 50. Dhungana, D., Grünbacher, P., Rabiser, R.: ‘The DOPLER meta-tool for decision-oriented variability modeling: a multiple case study’, Autom. Softw. Eng., 2011, 18, (1), pp. 77114.
    51. 51)
      • 51. Asikainen, T., Soininen, T., Männistö, T.: ‘A koala-based approach for modelling and deploying configurable software product families’. Proc. Int. Workshop on Software Product-Family Engineering, Siena, Italy, November 2003, pp. 225249.
    52. 52)
      • 52. Asikainen, T., Männistö, T., Soininen, T.: ‘Kumbang: a domain ontology for modelling variability in software product families’, Adv. Eng. Inf., 2007, 21, (1), pp. 2340.
    53. 53)
      • 53. Haber, A., Rendel, H., Rumpe, B., et al: ‘Hierarchical variability modeling for software architectures’. Proc. 15th Int. Software Product Line Conf. (SPLC), Munich, Germany, August 2011, pp. 150159.
    54. 54)
      • 54. Moreno-Rivera, J.M., Navarro, E., Cuesta, C.E.: ‘Evolving KobrA to support SPL for WebGIS development’. Proc. OTM Confederated Int. Conf. ‘On the Move to Meaningful Internet Systems’, Hersonissos, Crete, Greece, October 2011, pp. 622631.
    55. 55)
      • 55. Cetina, C., Giner, P., Fons, J., et al: ‘Autonomic computing through reuse of variability models at runtime: the case of smart homes’, Computer, 2009, 42, (10), pp. 3743.
    56. 56)
      • 56. Alia, M., Beauvois, M., Davin, Y., et al: ‘Components and aspects composition planning for ubiquitous adaptive services’. Proc. 36th EUROMICRO Conf. on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications (SEAA), Lille, France, September 2010, pp. 231234.
    57. 57)
      • 57. Hallsteinsen, S., Geihs, K., Paspallis, N., et al: ‘A development framework and methodology for self-adapting applications in ubiquitous computing environments’, J. Syst. Softw., 2012, 85, (12), pp. 28402859.
    58. 58)
      • 58. Di Cola, S., Tran, C., Lau, K.K., et al: ‘A component model for defining software product families with explicit variation points’. Proc. 19th Int. ACM SIGSOFT Symp. on Component-Based Software Engineering (CBSE), Venice, Italy, April 2016, pp. 7984.
    59. 59)
      • 59. He, N., Kroening, D., Wahl, T., et al: ‘Component-based design and verification in X-MAN’. Proc. Embedded Real Time Software and Systems, Toulouse, France, 2012.
    60. 60)
      • 60. Kaya, M.C., Karamanlioglu, A., Saeedi Nikoo, M., et al: ‘Bilesen modellerinde degiskenlik yonetimi yaklasimlarinin karsilastirilmasi’. Proc. 10th Turkish National Software Engineering Symp., Canakkale, Turkey, October 2016, pp. 502513,
    61. 61)
      • 61. Autosar, G.: ‘AUTOSAR feature model exchange format’, V4. 3.0, 2016.
    62. 62)
      • 62. ‘Carlos cetina's tools’. Available at, accessed June 2017.
    63. 63)
      • 63. ‘Model-based Reconfiguration Engine (MoRE)’. Available at, accessed June 2017.
    64. 64)
      • 64. Sanen, F., Truyen, E., Joosen, W.: ‘Mapping problem-space to solution-space features: a feature interaction approach’. Proc. 8th Int. Conf. on Generative Programming and Component Engineering, New York, NY, USA, October 2010, pp. 167176.
    65. 65)
      • 65. Berg, K., Bishop, J., Muthig, D.: ‘Tracing software product line variability – from problem to solution space’. Proc. Annual Research Conf. of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists on IT Research in Developing Countries (SAICSIT ‘05), White River, South Africa, September 2005, pp. 182191.
    66. 66)
      • 66. Batory, D.: ‘Feature models, grammars, and propositional formulas’. Proc. 9th Int. Software Product Line Conf., Rennes, France, September 2005, pp. 720.
    67. 67)
      • 67. Karataş, A.S., Oğuztüzün, H., Doğru, A.H.: ‘From extended feature models to constraint logic programming’, Sci. Comput. Program., 2013, 78, (12), pp. 22952312.
    68. 68)
      • 68. Batory, D.: ‘From implementation to theory in product synthesis’, Proc. Int. Symp. Principles of Program Languages (POPL), ACM, 2007, 42, (1), pp. 135136.
    69. 69)
      • 69. Batory, D.: ‘Program refactoring, program synthesis, and model-driven development’. Proc. Int. Conf. on Compiler Construction (CC), Braga, Portugal, January 2007, pp. 156171.
    70. 70)
      • 70. Batory, D., Azanza, M., Saraiva, J.: ‘The objects and arrows of computational design’. Proc. Int. Conf. on Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems (MODELS), Berlin, Heidelberg, September 2008, pp. 120.

Related content

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address