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Boulders And Pebbles

When embarking on a Software Product Line (SPL) development, one of the first, far-reaching cost decisions to be tackled is the level of “granularity” of the component set. Obviously, you don’t want to develop one big, fat-ass, 5 million line monstrosity that has to have 1000s of lines changed/added/hacked for each customer “instantiation“. Gee, that’s probably how you operate now and why you’re tinkering with the idea of an SPL approach for the future.

On the other hand, you don’t want to build 1000s of 10K-line pieces that are a nightmare for composition, configuration, versioning and integration. For a given domain, there’s a “subjective” sweet spot somewhere between a behemoth 5M-line boulder and a basket of 10K-line pebbles. However, if you’re gonna err on one side or the other, err on the side of “bigger“:

…beware of overly fine-grained components, because too many components are hard to manage, especially when versioning rears its ugly head, hence “DLL hell.” – Martin Fowler (UML Distilled)

The primacy of system functions and system function groups allows a new member of the product line to be treated as the composition of a few dozen high-quality, high-confidence components that interact with each other in controlled, predictable ways as opposed to thousands of small units that must be regression tested with each new change. Assembly of large components without the need to retest at the lowest level of granularity for each new system is a critical key to making reuse work. – Brownsword/Clements (A Case Study In Successful Product Line Development)

SPL Granularity

  1. J. Lopez
    January 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

    I like product line architecturing and would welcome more insight/pun on it. BTW happy ’13!

  1. April 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm
  2. May 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm

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