Leveraging software product lines engineering in the construction of domain specific languages

David Fernando Méndez Acuña 1
1 DiverSe - Diversity-centric Software Engineering
Inria Rennes – Bretagne Atlantique , IRISA_D4 - LANGAGE ET GÉNIE LOGICIEL
Abstract : The use of domain-specific languages (DSLs) has become a successful technique in the development of complex systems because it furnishes benefits such as abstraction, separation of concerns, and improvement of productivity. Nowadays, we can find a large variety of DSLs providing support in various domains. However, the construction of these languages is an expensive task. Language designers are intended to invest an important amount of time and effort in the definition of formal specifications and tooling for the DSLs that tackle the requirements of their companies. The construction of DSLs becomes even more challenging in multi-domain companies that provide several products. In this context, DSLs should be often adapted to diverse application scenarios, so language development projects address the construction of several variants of the same DSL. At this point, language designers face the challenge of building all the required variants by reusing, as much as possible, the commonalities existing among them. The objective is to leverage previous engineering efforts to minimize implementation from scratch. As an alternative to deal with such a challenge, recent research in software language engineering has proposed the use of product line engineering techniques to facilitate the construction of DSL variants. This led the notion of language product lines i.e., software product lines where the products are languages. Similarly to software product lines, language product lines can be built through two different approaches: top-down and bottom-up. In the top-down approach, a language product line is designed and implemented through a domain analysis process. In the bottom-up approach, the language product line is built up from a set of existing DSL variants through reverse-engineering techniques. In this thesis, we provide support for the construction of language product lines according to the two approaches mentioned before. On one hand, we propose facilities in terms of language modularization and variability management to support the top-down approach. Those facilities are accompanied with methodological insights intended to guide the domain analysis process. On the other hand, we introduce a reverse-engineering technique to support the bottom-up approach. This technique includes a mechanism to automatically recover a language modular design for the language product line as we as a strategy to synthesize a variability model that can be later used to configure concrete DSL variants. The ideas presented in this thesis are implemented in a well-engineered language workbench. This implementation facilitates the validation of our contributions in three case studies. The first case study is dedicated to validate our languages modularization approach that, as we will explain later in this document, is the backbone of any approach supporting language product lines. The second and third case studies are intended to validate our contributions on top-down and bottom-up language product lines respectively.
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David Fernando Méndez Acuña. Leveraging software product lines engineering in the construction of domain specific languages. Software Engineering [cs.SE]. Université Rennes 1, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016REN1S136⟩. ⟨tel-01427187v2⟩

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