Product Line Engineering and Related Technology

Systems and Software Product Line Engineering (PLE) is bringing innovative methodologies, tools and techniques, as well as new perspectives, to engineering organizations across a broad spectrum of industries. This section provides insight into how PLE relates to other engineering technologies and approaches.

Product Lifecycle Management, Application Lifecycle Management, and Product Line Engineering

There is a convergence taking shape among the closely related technologies of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), and PLE. The relative strengths of PLM, ALM, and PLE converge in near-perfect jigsaw puzzle fashion. PLM's limited support for managing software can be overcome by ALM tools. ALM's limited support for managing variation across a product line portfolio can be overcome by PLE tools. The result of this technology convergence is a powerful solution for managing the full engineering lifecycle of software-intensive mechanical product lines.

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Configuration Management and Product Line Engineering

Configuration Management (CM) for a product line portfolio is a multi-dimensional problem. In addition to the conventional problem of managing the evolution of systems and software assets over time, product lines introduce the additional problem of managing variation among the different products within the application domain space of the product line. By combining time-based version management provided by CM with product line variation management provided by PLE, CM operations can be well-orchestrated and synchronized as a product line evolves.

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Model-Driven Development and Product Line Engineering

Model-Driven Development (MDD) provides a powerful enabler for the rapid development of individual products within a product line; however, companies face complex challenges in managing product diversity across a product line portfolio. As PLE technologies have evolved, gaining mainstream acceptance as a first-class engineering practice for managing product line diversity, MDD has remained an under-served part of the PLE lifecycle. Thus, the integration of MDD and PLE technologies is essential for companies to simultaneously leverage the benefits of both practices.

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