External variability of software: Classification and ontological foundations

Iris Reinhartz-Berger, Arnon Sturm, Yair Wand

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Software variability management deals with the adaptation of reusable artifacts, such as models, specifications, and code, for particular requirements. External variability, which refers to software functionality as visible to users, deserves a special attention as it is closely linked to requirements and hence to early development stages. Errors or inaccuracies in these stages are relatively inexpensive to detect and easy to correct, yet can lead to expensive outcomes if not corrected. Nevertheless, the analysis of external variability in the literature is done ad-hoc and requires improvement. In this paper we introduce a framework for classifying external variability types based on ontological principles. The framework defines the external view of software in terms of the behavior of the application domain. Behavior is formalized as state changes in response to external stimuli. Based on this view we classify the possible similarities and differences among applications and identify an integrated similarity measurement. We demonstrate the usage of this classification framework for feasibility studies in system development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConceptual Modeling, ER 2011 - 30th International Conference, Proceedings
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2011
Event30th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling, ER 2011 - Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 31 Oct 20113 Nov 2011

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume6998 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference30th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling, ER 2011


  • domain analysis
  • domain engineering
  • software product line engineering
  • variability management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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