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Software Configuration Management : A Roadmap
Jacky Estublier Dassault Systèmes / LSR, Grenoble University Bat C, BP 53 38041 Grenoble 9 France
ABSTRACT This paper, in the first chapter summarizes the state of the art in SCM, showing the evolution along the last 25 years. Chapter 2 shows the current issues and current research work under way in the area. In chapter 3,the challenges SCM has to take up, as well as SCM future research are discussed. Keywords Software configuration management, Version control, process support, concurrent engineering, federation, interoperability, architecture. 1 WHAT IS SCM? Current definition would say that SCM is the control of the evolution of complex systems. More pragmatically, it is the discipline that enable us to keepevolving software products under control, and thus contributes to satisfying quality and delay constraints. SCM emerged as a discipline soon after the so called « software crisis » was identified, i.e. when it was understood that programming does not cover everything in Software Engineering (SE), and that other issues were hampering SE development, like architecture, building, evolution and so on. SCMemerged, during the late 70s and early 80s, as an attempt to address some of these issues; this is why there is no clear boundary to SCM topic coverage. In the early 80s SCM focussed in programming in the large (versioning, rebuilding, composition), in the 90s in programming in the many (process support, concurrent engineering), late 90s in programming in the wide (web remote engineering).Currently, a typical SCM system tries to provide services in the following areas: Managing a repository of components. There is a need for storing the different components of a software product and all their versions safely. This topic includes version management, product modeling and complex object management. Help engineers in their usual activities. SE involves applying tools to objects (files). SCMproducts try to provide engineers with the right objects, in the right location. This is often referred as workspace control. Compilation and derived object control is a major issue. Process control and support. Later (end 80s), it became clear that a, if not the, major issue is related to people. Traditionally, change control is an integral part of an SCM product; currently the tendency is toextend process support capability beyond these aspects. Short History In the 80s, the first systems were built in house and focussed closely on file control. Most of them were built as a set of Unix scripts over RCS (a simple version control tool) and Make (for derived object control). From this period we can mention DSEE [31], the only serious commercial product, which introduced the system modelconcept which was an Architecture Description Language ancestor; NSE [36] which introduced workspace and cooperative work control; Adele which introduced a specialized product model with automatic configuration building [15], and Aides de Camp (now TRUE software) which introduced the change set (see later). The first real SCM products appeared in the early 90s. These systems are much better. Theyoften use a relational database but still rely on file control, they provide workspace support, but no or built-in process support. This generation included Clear Case [32] (DSEE successor) which introduced the virtual file system and Continuus [5][12] which introduced, with Adele, explicit process support [20]. Continuus and Clear Case are currently the market leaders. In the second half of the 90s,process support was added and most products matured. This period saw the consecration of SCM, as a mature, reliable and essential technology for successful software development; the SCM market was over $1 billion sales in 1998. Many observers consider SCM as one of the very few Software Engineering successes. Component Repository Most SCM products are based on a tiny core of concepts and...