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Product line engineering has become an important and widely used approach for efficiently developing portfolios of software products. The idea is to develop a set of products as a single, coherent development task from a core asset base (sometimes called a platform), a collection of artifacts specifically designed for use across a portfolio. This approach produces order-of-magnitude economic improvements compared to one-at-a-time software system development. Because the product line approach isn't limited to specific technical properties of the planned software but rather focuses on economic characteristics, high return on investment has become the anthem of the approach's protagonists. Our software product line cost model can calculate the costs and benefits (and hence the ROI) that we can expect to accrue from various product line development situations. It's also straightforward and intuitive.
Date of Publication: May-June 2004