Flux Research Group / School of Computing

Feature Typing: An Early Aspects Technique

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Sean Walton and Eric Eide

Proceedings of the Workshop on Early Aspects 2005.



An implementation and deployment plan is critically important in the development of a software product or product line. A good plan results from an informed feature analysis that incorporates crosscutting concerns such as variability management and the project time-line. A poor feature analysis, on the other hand, can result in an ineffective project schedule and an implementation that hinders the delivery of new features. An early understanding of product features can help a project planner create an effective plan, and help a designer avoid unsupportable code.

Feature typing is our emerging model that describes what features are in terms of two separate natures. The vertical nature of a feature generally follows a UML's use-case path, describing what the feature does. The horizontal nature expresses a program characteristic, describing what the feature has. Because each nature affects feature interaction and product integration and testing, early identification and typing can increase predictability of project time-lines and reduce code complexity.

This paper details the feature typing model and its application for two separate case studies. The studies demonstrate the ways that feature typing can help with the design, planning, coding, and testing of feature implementations. The studies also illuminate the limitations of the approach.