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Reusing software: issues and research directions

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3 Author(s)
Mili, H. ; Dept. d''Inf., Quebec Univ., Montreal, Que., Canada ; Mili, F. ; Mili, A.

Software productivity has been steadily increasing over the past 30 years, but not enough to close the gap between the demands placed on the software industry and what the state of the practice can deliver; nothing short of an order of magnitude increase in productivity will extricate the software industry from its perennial crisis. Several decades of intensive research in software engineering and artificial intelligence left few alternatives but software reuse as the (only) realistic approach to bring about the gains of productivity and quality that the software industry needs. In this paper, we discuss the implications of reuse on the production, with an emphasis on the technical challenges. Software reuse involves building software that is reusable by design and building with reusable software. Software reuse includes reusing both the products of previous software projects and the processes deployed to produce them, leading to a wide spectrum of reuse approaches, from the building blocks (reusing products) approach, on one hand, to the generative or reusable processor (reusing processes), on the other. We discuss the implication of such approaches on the organization, control, and method of software development and discuss proposed models for their economic analysis. Software reuse benefits from methodologies and tools to: (1) build more readily reusable software and (2) locate, evaluate, and tailor reusable software, the last being critical for the building blocks approach. Both sets of issues are discussed in this paper, with a focus on application generators and OO development for the first and a thorough discussion of retrieval techniques for software components, component composition (or bottom-up design), and transformational systems for the second. We conclude by highlighting areas that, in our opinion, are worthy of further investigation

Published in:

Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 6 )