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Intention-based integration of software variants

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Cloning is a simple way to create new variants of a system. While cheap at first, it increases maintenance cost in the long term. Eventually, the cloned variants need to be integrated into a configurable platform. Such an integration is challenging: it involves merging the usual code improvements between the variants, and also integrating the variable code (features) into the platform. Thus, variant integration differs from traditional soft- ware merging, which does not produce or organize configurable code, but creates a single system that cannot be configured into variants. In practice, variant integration requires fine-grained code edits, performed in an exploratory manner, in multiple iterations. Unfortunately, little tool support exists for integrating cloned variants. In this work, we show that fine-grained code edits needed for integration can be alleviated by a small set of integration intentions-domain-specific actions declared over code snippets controlling the integration. Developers can interactively explore the integration space by declaring (or revoking) intentions on code elements. We contribute the intentions (e.g., 'keep functionality' or 'keep as a configurable feature') and the IDE tool INCLINE, which implements the intentions and five editable views that visualize the integration process and allow declaring intentions producing a configurable integrated platform. In a series of experiments, we evaluated the completeness of the pro- posed intentions, the correctness and performance of INCLINE, and the benefits of using intentions for variant integration. The experiments show that INCLINE can handle complex integration tasks, that views help to navigate the code, and that it consistently reduces mistakes made by developers during variant integration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 41st International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2019, Montreal, QC, Canada, May 25-31, 2019
PublisherIEEE
Publication date2019
Pages831-842
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-0870-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-0869-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesProceedings of the 41st International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2019, Montreal, QC, Canada, May 25-31, 2019
ISSN1558-1225

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