Sunday, September 14, 2008

12th International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC) - Conference Report

Last week, during September 8-12, in Limerick, Ireland, was held the 12th International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC). The conference put together more than 220 researchers and practitioners from several places around the world interested in several issues about software product lines.

In the first day, initial ideas were discussed in four workshops approaching Dynamic Software Product Lines (a mix from adaptive systems, middleware and SPL ideas), Aspect Oriented and SPL (conducted by Vander Alves and his colleagues), Service-Oriented Architectures and Software Product Lines and Software Product Line Testing. In my opinion, these workshops discussed current hot topics in the field with some ones more consolidated than others. For example, the community does not have a common understanding about Dynamic Software Product Lines yet. On the other hand, some areas such as testing and AOP start to be more concrete with the integration. In addition, some tutorials were also important to disseminate the topic.

On Tuesday, we had the first keynote speaker: David Parnas. David started discussing his inspiration with the Fred Brooks’ work, and discussed his brilliant ideas about program families and other experiences. His talk was titled Multi-Dimensional Software Families: Document Defined Partitions of a Set of Products. David also discussed about the importance of documentation in software development. Another remarkable moment was his warning about the paper counting process, it was very important. David said that one important point in his papers is that it is still applicable today and makes total sense [This book is a compilation of his work. I strongly recommend it.].
For me, it was special because one day before I was introduced to him by David Weiss. I did not have much time to talk to him but it is very good when you have the opportunity to meet someone that was inspiration in the field for you. David said about his experience in Brazil years ago and other points. My first advice here is to carry on your camera all the time. [I did not have my camera there]. After the talk, David left the conference. Actually, I would like to see him more around.

Next, the sessions were started in parallel. The first one, involving feature models and the second one: SPL experiences. I decided attendant for the second one and it was good. Experiences in banks, automotive and embedded were presented. In this section, Dirk Muthig and his colleagues from Fraunhofer Institute showed their two experiences. Closing the sessions, time for lunch and discussing SPL with different people. In the afternoon sessions, information retrieval and clustering were integrated to discover product lines requirements. At the same time, it was started a panel with experts on scoping. I decided to keep my focus on the first area but I would like to see the second too. During the last sessions, after coffee, I decided to do a merge and saw a presentation about clone detection and SPL and switched for the other room to participate in a good discussion about the SPL roots and its foundations in the software reuse (during the Software Productivity Consortium) area by Grady Campbell. In the end of the day, we went to a reception in a pub with music, food and few of the Irish culture.

On Wednesday, the second keynote speaker, Luc Koch from Phillips Medical System, presented their experience in Phillips Healthcare discussing the past, present and future of this effort. Next, the sessions started and I had to decide again which one to attendant. I did a good choice and DSL and Code Generation was widely discussed. In the afternoon, I participated in a working session about the possible integration between Agile and SPL. It was very good and you can see the summary here. Finally, we ended up in the conference dinner in Irish castle. It was awesome with wine, dance, music, food and more wine.

On Thursday, the conference started with an industrial panel leaded by Charlie Krueger and other companies discussing their experiences in the field. It showed different views and impressions by the companies with different levels of expertise. After the panel, the sessions started and I participated in one about Service-Oriented Product Lines. It was very good but we can see that we have too much room for research in this direction.

After that, it was time to see some tools demo and participated in the Product Line Hall of Fame conducted by David Weiss and Paul Clements. That was awesome. The ceremony is very good with perfect sound, video, lights and sure, their presentation. Everybody loved it. Two companies were nominated. The first one was conducted by Krueger.

In the last day, we have another good agenda with some tutorials, workshops and the Doctoral Symposium. I decided to participate in the last one for two reasons: the first one because I will be the Doctoral Symposium chair in the next year, and the second one, because I was interested in seeing the new research in the field and the future new researchers. The session was conducted by Klaus Schmid and had four presentations discussing since agile and SPL until testing and aspect. The good point here was to see one work from Brazil there. After that, the conference finished.

In summary, the conference was very good with people from industry and academy from different countries, with new ideas, tools and important experiences. Next year, I hope see you in San Francisco, California.

Get the call for papers here.


Leandro Marques do Nascimento said...

I had the chance to read the Parna's article discussing about the paper counting and I think he is completely right. It is sad to see several shallow research projects being performed in order to increase the number of publications. I totally agree with him when he says: "One sees the result of these games when ttending
conferences. People come to talk, not to listen. Presentations are often made to nearly empty halls.
Some never attend at all.". I had the opportunity to go to EUROMICRO conference. Only three days of presentations and in the last day less than half of participants were present.

Besides, it is good to see brazilian work in SPLC. I think the industrial case studies of software product lines are one of the best opportunities to know better the top researchers and practices in the area.

Congratulations Eduardo!

Eduardo Almeida said...

Leandro, I agree with you also. I think that conference is very good to networking, to talk to different people, so on.
The main focus is not just to publish a paper. In sw engineering, in my opinion, the point is to solve problems. If you solved a problem in a good way, with new ideas or improving a previous one, it is great to publish it. Sharing the ideas is essential to increase the body of knowledge in any science and computer science is not exception. It is important for the world evolution.