Solutions Speed Dev Times for Embedded Apps

Developers of software for embedded systems now have an improved tool to help produce software product variants in a more efficient fashion using a model driven development (MDD) approach. A partnership between Telelogic and BigLever Software made it possible.

The two companies teamed up to integrate their solutions, bringing together the MDD capabilities of Telelogic's Rhapsody product with the software product line (SPL) capabilities of BigLevers' Gears solution.

MDD typically hadn't been addressed before in the SPL solutions business, according to Charles Krueger, founder and CEO of BigLever. The two companies cite the integration of Rhapsody and Gears as an "industry first" in combining both capabilities.

SPL is an approach to solving a recurring problem faced by the development community, namely, handling software variants efficiently.

"[There's] a narrow problem in software engineering on how to create a portfolio product line of similar products and really take advantage of the reuse that can occur across that product set," Krueger explained.

Customer requests drove the two companies to create the integrated solution, according to Jim McElroy, Telelogic's senior director of channels and business development. The Telelogic Rhapsody product is particularly focused on embedded systems market, enabling rapid software development using UML-based MDD.

"One of the benefits of MDD is the ability to raise the level of abstraction to the graphical level," McElroy explained. "You can make pretty substantive changes to your application based on a simple graphical change to the model. You no longer have to purely work at the source code level. You raise the level of abstraction and this really increases your productivity and ultimately product quality. So it's really about predictive reuse of your core software assets."

Rhapsody's MDD capability lets you test your application as you build it, supporting a three-times level of improvement, at minimum, in terms of lifecycle development, McElroy added.

Prior to the integrated solution, you had two choices with UML-based modeling to create product variants, Krueger explained. A "clone-and-own" approach creates a copy of the model, but it leads to expensive duplication owned by different development branches.  On the other hand, a "one-size-fits-all" approach uses metalogic for each new product, leading to a mixing of logic, as well as large and complex models. 

"Both of those [approaches] work, but both have drawbacks," Krueger said. "That's why we wanted to bring in some of the newer ideas from software product line engineering and find a better solution than just those two."

An integrated solution, using Rhapsody and Gears, enables better code reuse as well, he added. Users would typically have Rhapsody and Gears installed, and both products now have a bridge capability to link their tools functions. It's offered as a dual plug-in capability in both products, Krueger said, and a beta version is currently available.

The integration greatly speeds up the efficiency of the software development team, according to Krueger.

"Maybe before, my team of people could support five different flavors of the product in a product line perspective," he said "You do this integration [with Rhapsody and Gears]. Now, of a sudden, this same group of developers can do five or ten times as many products. It has a dramatic impact on how customers of ours compete in the industry."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.