Journal of Computer and Communications, 2014, 2, 101-108
Published Online January 2014 (
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic
Notation Comparison and Mapping
Wahyudianto, Eko K. Budiardjo, Elviawaty M. Zamzami
1Faculty of Computer Science, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia; 2Departement of Computer Science, Universitas Sumatra
Utara, Medan, Indonesia.
Received November 2013
Feature Model (FM) became an important role in Software Product Line Engineering (SPLE) field. Many ap-
proaches have been introduced since the original FM came up with Feature Oriented Domain Analysis (FODA)
introduced by Kang in 1990. The main purpose of FM is used for commonality and variability analysis in do-
main engineering, to optimize the reusable aspect of software features or components. Cardinality-based Feature
Model (CBFM) is one extension of original FM, which integrates several notations of other extensions. In CBFM,
feature model defined as hierarchy of feature, with each of feature has a cardinality. The other notation to ex-
press variability within SPLE is Orthogonal Variability Model (OVM). At the other hand, OMG as standard
organization makes an effort to build standard generic language to express the commonality and variability in
SPL field, by initiate Common Variability Language (CVL). This paper reports the comparison and mapping of
FODA, CBFM and OVM to CVL where need to be explored first to define meta model mapping of these several
approaches. Furthermore, the comparison and mapping of those approaches are discussed in term of R3ST
(read as “REST”) software feature model as the case study.
Comparison and Mapping; FODA; Cardinality-based Feature Model; Orthogonal Variability Language;
Common Variability Language; Feature Model; R3ST Software
1. Introduction
Software Product Line Engineering (SPLE) was coming
from Product Line (PL) field. Feature Model (FM) which
firstly introduced by Kang with Feature Oriented Domain
Analysis (FODA) became a core part of SPLE research
and development [1]. The original FM has been extended
by several approaches [2], one of them is Cardinality-
based Feature Model (CBFM) [3]. Another approach
beside used of FM notation to express variability is Or-
thogonal Variability Model (OVM) [4]. To conform this
approach, Common Variability Langua-ge as new emerg-
ing standard was initiated by OMG to develop general
language for expressing variability within SPL [5].
Our main goal in this research is to define the mapping
of FODA, CBFM and OVM to CVL. We want to study
the comparison and relation mapping of tree approaches
to CVL. Is the FODA, CBFM, OVM and CVL has rela-
In this paper we report the recent progress of our re-
search. We analyze the comparison of FODA, CBFM
and OVM with CVL. We identify the mapping of tree
approaches to CVL. And at the last, we describe the rela-
tion of FODA, CBFM and OVM with CVL.
To organize this paper we describe the related back-
ground in Section 2, the grounded theory of feature mod-
eling in SPLE, FODA, CBFM, OVM and recent state of
CVL. The related work of this research is discussed in
Section 3. The comparison and mapping analysis are dis-
cussed in Section 4, and also relation of FODA, CBFM
and OVM with CVL. Study case of this comparison and
mapping using R3ST software prototype are explained in
Section 5. And finally we conclude and discuss the fea-
ture work in Section 6.
2. Background
2.1. Feature Oriented Domain Analysis Feature
The Feature Model was came up with Feature Oriented
Domain Analysis (FODA) concept, that introduced by
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic Notation Comparison and Mapping
Kang at 1990 (original FM) [1]. FODA is concept that
used to analyze the domain problem on SPL.
From sample FODA at Figure 1, is show that the tree
is composed by feature name, mandatory feature, option-
al feature, alternative feature, and composition rule.
2.2. Cardinality-Based Feature Model
Cardinality-based Feature Model (CBFM) was integrated
several original FODA extensions. It is hierarchical fea-
ture model, (see Figure 2) where each feature has cardi-
nality. The notation of feature cardinality is [m..n], with
interval from m to n, where m Z n Z {} 0
m (m ≤ n n = ). The other additional notation is
group cardinality for each feature group, where feature
can be arranged. A group cardinality has interval from m
to n with notation [m-n], where m, n Z 0 ≤ m ≤ n ≤ k,
and where k is the number of features in the group [3].
2.3. Orthogonal Variability Model
Orthogonal Variability Model (OVM) is the other con-
cept to express variability on SPL process beside FM.
OVM express variability using Variation Point (VP), Va-
riant (V) and Dependency. A VP notation is representing
the subject of variability and V notation is representing
the object of variability, and can be used to trace with
other artifacts [4]. For example see Figure 3.
2.4. Common Variability Language
Several approaches to express the variability in SPLE are
described above. They all have the same goal, but come
with different approaches. Object Management Group
(OMG) initiative to develop an approach that can be used
generical ly, by introducing the Common Variability
Language (CVL) as a standard for expressing variability.
CVL as stated in the specification [5], is a language for
the domain independent, used to define and solve the
problems of variability in the Do mai n Specific Language
(DSL). DSL is a combination of a do ma i n expert compe-
tence for one or more product line. The concrete syn tax
Figure 1. Sample FODA feature model [1].
Figure 2. Sample Cardinality-based Feature Model Excerp
of CVL is using Variability Specification (VSpec) Tree
to model the feature [5]. The VSpec is a FM like using
tree diagram as we can see in Figure 4.
3. Related Work
The technical report from SINTEF [6] describes the
mapping between the components contained in the fea-
ture diagram and CVL element (see Table 1). This report
is submitted on OMG Request for Proposal (RFP). This
is what underlying the subsequent development of CVL.
Another initiative is a comparison of variability mo d-
eling of the existing approach [7]. The comparison based
on Feature Modeling (FM) and Decision Modeling (DM).
This research concluded that the FM can express both
commonality and variability, whereas DM only express
Reference [8], comparing characteristic and met a mo-
del contained in the existing features language. This re-
search proposed metamodel (Figure 5) th at must exist to
bring together all the features of existing models.
From unified feature metamodel mentioned at Figu r e
5, the common component that must be present is:
1) Feature; 2) Optional Feature; 3) Mandatory Feature;
4) Alternative Feature; 5) Feature Cardinality; 6) Feature
Properties; 7) Exclude; 8) Requires; 9) Constraints; and
10) Label.
4. Syntactic Notation Comparison
The comparison of concrete syntax notation is based on
literature study of four approaches. This research com-
pared the 12 components of feature model and variability
model and the result is shown in Table 2. The explana-
tion of the comparison result is outlined below.
4.1. Feature
All approaches have feature notation except OVM. The
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic Notation Comparison and Mapping
Figure 3. Sample orthogonal variability model [4].
Figure 4. Sample vspec tree of CVL [5].
FODA directly use feature name as feature notation. The
CBFM uses feature name inside a rectangle, and CVL
uses rounded rectangle with its name inside.
4.2. Variable
Approaches that have variable notation are CBFM and
CVL. The CBFM uses rectangle with attribute name fol-
lowed by attribute type in a bracket inside. And the CVL
notation uses an oval (ellipsis) containing variable name
and its type separated by a colon.
4.3. Variation Point
Variation Point only expressed explicitly by OVM. The
notation of VP is triangle consisting of black triangle at
the top and name of variation points at the bottom. VP on
CVL are bound directly to VSpec that have semantic, but
not expressed explicit ly in any normative concrete syntax.
Table 1. Feature diagram and CVL mapping [6].
Semantics Symbol CVL Element
Multiplicity [m..n]
While other approaches express VP implicitly on feature
tree only.
4.4. Variant
Variant only expressed explicitly by OVM with repre-
sented as rectangle with a black rectangle in the upper
left corner and name of variant in the middle of it. While
the others did not explicitly express this.
4.5. Mandatory
All approaches use solid edge to express mandatory fea-
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic Notation Comparison and Mapping
Figure 5. Unified feature metamodel [8].
Table 2. Syntactic notation of modeling mapping.
Component FODA FM [1] CBFM [3] OVM [4] CVL [5]
Feature X
Variable X X
Variation Point X X
Variant X X
Cardinality X [m..n],‹m..n › mi n..max 0..n , n..m
Clone X
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic Notation Comparison and Mapping
ture, but CBFM uses black circle at the lower end of it.
4.6. Optional
The optional feature for FODA and CBFM expressed
with solid edge and white circle at the lower of it, while
OVM and CVL used dashed edge.
4.7. AND
All approaches express the AND feature with included
all solid edge. This means that the node under the parent
which uses solid edge must be selected during configura-
tion or must have in final product.
4.8. OR
OR feature expressed by CBFM, OVM and CVL, the
FODA does not express this. CBFM uses black arc join-
ing the solid edge. CBFM uses term OR-Group for this
component. The OVM can express this, by give 1.* to
group cardinality. CVL express or feature using term
Group Multiplicity that uses small triangle with multip-
licity 1.*. The FODA approach does not express OR
4.9. XOR
XOR feature with the other term alternative feature is
expressed by all approaches. FODA and CBFM use
white arc joining solid edge. OVM uses white arc joining
the dashed edge with default multiplicity 1..1. CVL uses
sma ll triangle with multiplicity 1..1.
4.10. Cardinality
The feature cardinality expressed by all approach except
FODA. CBFM have [m..n] notation for Feature Cardi-
nality and < m..n > notation for Group Cardinality. OVM
uses [min..max] in square bracket notation and using
term Multiplicity. CVL using term Multiplicity for this
component and m..n notation for this component.
4.11. Clone
Feature Clone just expressed by CBFM and CVL. CBFM
uses [m..n] in square bracket at above the feature nota-
tion. In CBFM [0..n] cardinality express Optional Clo-
neable Feature and [m..n] cardinality express Mandatory
Cloneable Feature. In CVL, feature clone expressed us-
ing Variability Classifier (VClassifier) that uses rectangle
with name followed by multiplicity notation in a square
bracket inside.
4.12. Constraint
The feature constraint have expressed by all approaches
with different form. FODA uses mutex and requires form
in rectangle with title Compositional Rule. CBFM uses
OCL and the best known are implies and excludes form
that expressed in textual model. The OVM using requires
and excludes form with dashed arrow that can be used
for V and V, V and VP, and also VP and VP. And at last
CVL uses parallelogram with basic constraint (subset of
OCL) inside, even though in addition CVL allows using
other constraint languages, including more complete
5. Comparison and Mapping Case Study
In this section we present the case study to compare four
approaches that we have mapped and compared at sec-
tion 4. The case study is feature model of R3ST (read as
“REST”), the software that we still working on it. R3ST
stands for Requirement Recovery and Reconstruction
Software Tools. The main functionality of R3ST is to
automate the reverse engineering that capture the
End-to-End interaction of user and system until defined
some goal of the system, and recover the Use Case model,
and at the end, this tools provide SRS document of the
reversed system [9]. For this case study, we focus on the
End-to-End Interaction capture prototype, so we can
clearly understand about comparison of four approaches
to express commonality and variability.
FODA express the R3ST feature model with 4 ele-
ments as we can see at Figure 6. The name feature,
mandatory feature, optional feature, and XOR Group
feature notation. At here we still did not need the con-
straint notation. So we just ignore it.
The other approach is CBFM, express R3ST FM with
different notation from FODA, as we can see at Figure 7.
The main deference meaning is OR Group notation. With
FODA we can’t express OR Group Feature. This OR
Group means that we can use just one database engine or
two or three. This can’t be expressed in FODA.
The OVM expres ses the variability of R3ST is given
in Figure 8. It is very different from FODA and CBFM,
since this OVM is focusing on express variability not
commonality. The OVM of R3ST consists of four variant
point, the variability that OVM expressed.
The CVL model of R3ST is described in Figure 9. It
is closely like CBFM since the CVL uses tree like nota-
tion to express the variability. The difference of both
approaches is just the notation, but at the meaning level it
is closely alike.
By R3ST case study given above, we can get the
comparison of the four approaches. First, we can see that
original FODA can’t express OR feature and cardinality,
so we can just make the feature be an option for all
children feature. Second, very different notation from
others is shown by OVM because its focusing on ex-
pressing variability by having explicit variant and variant
point notation. And the third, the CBFM and CVL have
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic Notation Comparison and Mapping
Figure 6. R3ST Feature model using FODA.
Figure 7. R3ST Feature model using CBFM.
Figure 8. R3ST Variability model using OVM.
Feature Modeling and Variability Modeling Syntactic Notation Comparison and Mapping
Figure 9. R3ST Feature model using CVL.
closely like notation, with the tree and cardinality of the
6. Conclusion and Feature Work
6.1. Conclusion
In this paper, we compare the several approaches of fea-
ture modeling and variability modeling and do the map-
ping of their component. The original FODA as the first
introduce the FM has limited notation to express com-
monality and variability in SPL, as already explained that
just have notation for feature, mandatory, optional, AND,
XOR, and constraints. The CBFM as an extension of
original FODA is more expressive to describe commo-
nality and variability in SPL with introducing cardinality
concept in FM. The OVM as proposed to document va-
riability is expressive and only focus to describe variabil-
ity in SPL, but not the commonality. The other expres-
siveness of OVM is the traceability with other artifacts.
And the last, CVL as proposed for specifying and re-
solving variability is more expressive to describe varia-
bility in SPL. This is in line with the objectives of the
CVL as an independent domain and the language pro-
posed by the OMG as a standard for modeling the varia-
bility in SPL.
6.2. Feature Work
For feature work, after we define this comparison and
mapping, we plan to define the relational mapping on
metamodel level, after the syntax notation mapping is
done by this paper. Furthermore we plan to define the
technique to integrate the several approaches with CVL
as new standard for variability modeling in SPL.
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