Communicating the Variability of a Software-Product Family to Customers.
Variability is a central concept in software product family development. Variability empowers constructive reuse and facilitates the derivation of different, customer specific products from the product family. If many customer specific requirements can be realised by exploiting the product family variability, the reuse achieved is obviously high. If not, the reuse is low. It is thus important that the variability of the product family is adequately considered when eliciting requirements from the customer. In this paper we sketch the challenges for requirements engineering for product family applications. More precisely we elaborate on the need to communicate the variability of the product family to the customer. We differentiate between variability aspects which are essential for the customer and aspects which are more related to the technical realisation and need thus not be communicated to the customer. Motivated by the successful usage of use cases in single product development we propose use cases as communication medium for the product family variability. We discuss and illustrate which customer relevant variability aspects can be represented with use cases, and for which aspects use cases are not suitable. Moreover we propose extensions to use case diagrams to support an intuitive representation of customer relevant variability aspects.
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