Feature-oriented Programming

Feature-oriented Programming

Feature Oriented Programming (FOP) or Feature Oriented Software Development (FOSD) is a general paradigm for program synthesis in software product lines.

FOSD arose out of layer-based designs and levels of abstraction in network protocols and extensible database systems in the late-1980s. A program was a stack of layers. Each layer added functionality to previously composed layers and different compositions of layers produced different programs. Not surprisingly, there was a need for a compact language to express such designs. Elementary algebra fit the bill: each layer was function (program transformation) that added new code to an existing program to produce a new program, and a program's design was modeled by an expression, i.e., a composition of transformations (layers). The figure below illustrates the stacking of layers h, j, and i (where h is on the bottom and i is on the top). The algebraic notations i(j(h))and i•j•h express these designs.

Over time, the idea of layers was generalized to features, where a feature is an increment in program development or functionality. The paradigm for program design and synthesis was recognized to be a generalization of relational query optimization, where query evaluation programs were defined as relational algebra expressions, and query optimization was expression evaluation. A software product line (SPL) is a family of programs where each program is defined by a unique composition of features, and no two programs have the same combination. FOSD has since evolved into the study of feature modularity, tools, analyses, and design techniques to support feature-based program synthesis.

Further advances in FOSD arose from recognizing the following facts: Every program has multiple representations (e.g., source, makefiles, documentation, etc.) and adding a feature to a program should elaborate each of its representations so that all representations are consistent. Additionally, some of these representations could be generated (or derived) from other representations. In this article, the mathematics of the three most recent generations of FOSD, namely GenVoca, AHEAD, and FOMDD are described, and links to product lines that have been developed using FOSD tools are provided. Also, four additional results that apply to all generations of FOSD are presented elsewhere: MetaModels, Program Cubes, Feature Algebras, and Feature Interactions.

Read more about Feature-oriented Programming:  GenVoca, AHEAD, FOMDD, Applications

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