One of the reasons for using variability in the software product line (SPL) approach (see Apel et al., 2006; Figueiredo et al., 2008; Kastner et al., 2007; Mezini & Ostermann, 2004) is to delay a design decision (Svahnberg et al., 2005). Instead of deciding on what system to develop in advance, with the SPL approach a set of components and a reference architecture are specified and implemented (during domain engineering, see Czarnecki & Eisenecker, 2000) out of which individual systems are composed at a later stage (during application engineering, see Czarnecki & Eisenecker, 2000). By postponing the design decisions in such a manner, it is possible to better fit the resultant system in its intended environment, for instance, to allow selection of the system interaction mode to be made after the customers have purchased particular hardware, such as a PDA vs. a laptop. Such variability is expressed through variation points which are locations in a software-based system where choices are available for defining a specific instance of a system (Svahnberg et al., 2005). Until recently it had sufficed to postpone committing to a specific system instance till before the system runtime. However, in the recent years the use and expectations of software systems in human society has undergone significant changes.
Today's software systems need to be always available, highly interactive, and able to continuously adapt according to the varying environment conditions, user characteristics and characteristics of other systems that interact with them. Such systems, called adaptive systems, are expected to be long-lived and able to undertake adaptations with little or no human intervention (Cheng et al., 2009). Therefore, the variability now needs to be present also at system runtime, which leads to the emergence of a new type of system: adaptive systems with dynamic variability.
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