News Letter 20040108
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PROJECT: Transparent Configuration Environments
The goal of the TraCE
project is to study the modeling and realization
of variability in modern software systems with an emphasis on a more
general and generic treatment of timing-issues for variant
addition/removal and binding of variation points, and the related
effects and the opportunities for optimization. The vehicle for the
research is the development of a framework for transparent
configuration environments which present a uniform interface to a
variety of underlying configuration mechanisms, thus closing the
current gap between variability at the conceptual and implementation
The ideas underlying the project are described in the project proposal
, two position papers [3,5], and a short piece in the dutch IT
magazine Informatie .
With the hiring of Martin Bravenboer as PhD student and Merijn de
Jonge as postdoc, the team is now at full force. But with Eelco
Dolstra as PhD student, and the not-yet-official-team-members, we have
already been working on the themes of the project for a while and have
TOOLS: Maak, Nix, XTC, Buildfarm
We are investigating the treatment of variability in different stages
of the software deployment cycle and we are building tools to make
this treatment more uniform.
- Maak is a build system integrating build management and package
management in a single formalism (a simple functional language).
By providing a sufficiently powerful module system and caching facility,
Maak can be used to describe dependencies within packages (normally
covered by a build system), and between packages (normally covered by
package management). In addition, the Maak language makes it easy to
describe build variants and incorporates variability information into
dependencies. A paper about Maak was presented at SCM-11 .
- Nix is a deployment system with a generic, platform and language
independent, discipline for software deployment that allows precise
dependency verification; exact identification of component variants;
computation of complete closures containing all components on which a
component depends; maximal sharing of components between such
closures; and concurrent installation of revisions and variants of
components. The system is based on the application of principles from
memory management to software deployment. A paper with an analysis of
the problems of software deployment and the foundations of the Nix
memory management discipline has been accepted at ICSE'04 . Another
paper describing higher-level policies built on top of the basic store
manipulation interface has been submitted for publication.
- XTC is a transformation tool composition framework developed in the
setting of the StrategoXT bundle of transformation tools. The
framework supports the (recursive) composition of data-flow systems
from basic transformation components.
- We have set up a buildfarm that we use for regression and
portability testing, and for automatic construction of software
distributions. We are currently working on a new buildfarm based on
Nix, which will make it easier to manage the testing of variants of
- TraCE website. http://www.cs.uu.nl/groups/ST/TraCE
- E. Visser (PI). TraCE : Capturing Timeline Variability with
Transparent Configuration Environments. Grant proposal for Jacquard
program. July 2002.
- E. Dolstra, G. Florijn and E. Visser. Timeline Variability: The
Variability of Binding Time of Variation Points. In J. van Gurp and
Jan Bosch, editors, Workshop on Software Variability Management
(SVM'03), Groningen, The Netherlands, February 2003.
- E. Dolstra. Integrating Software Construction and Software
Deployment. In 11th International Workshop on Software Configuration
Management (SCM-11), volume 2649 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science,
pages 102-117, Portland, Oregon, USA, May 2003. Springer-Verlag.
- E. Dolstra, G. Florijn, M. de Jonge and E. Visser. Capturing
Timeline Variability with Transparent Configuration Environments. In
International Workshop on Software Variability Management, Portland,
Oregon, USA, May 2003.
- Eelco Dolstra, Gert Florijn, Merijn de Jonge en Eelco
Visser. Beheersen van Variabiliteit met Transparante
Configuratieomgevingen. Informatie, Januari 2004. (To appear; in
- E. Dolstra, E. Visser, and M. de Jonge. Imposing a Memory
Management Discipline on Software Deployment. 26th International
Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE'04). Edinburgh,
Scotland. IEEE Computer Society, May 2004. (Accepted for publication)
Merijn de Jonge