Contextual constraints in configuration languages

Dennis Wagelaar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Configuration languages are a very common solution to manage the variability in software systems. Often, a configuration language defines a number of constraints that rule out any inconsistent configurations. These constraints can be part of the language definition or they can be defined separately. The scope of such constraints is typically limited to so-called interaction constraints, which describe what configuration options can be combined with each other. This limit is caused by the vocabulary with which the constraints have to be expressed. This vocabulary is of course only scoped to express the possible configurations. Another kind of constraint that can apply to configurations, is a contextual constraint. Contextual constraints refer to the context in which a software system must work. The relationship between context and programming is described in Context-Oriented Programming. We believe that, in order to describe constraints based on context for a configuration language, there must be an explicit vocabulary of this context. These contextual constraints can then be bound to the configuration language by relating them to the configuration language definition (grammar, schema, meta-model, ...). Ontologies have proven to be a suitable format for describing the concepts that can occur in the context. The standard ontology language OWL provides a way to reason about ontologies with description logic using the OWL DL variant. We have shown in previous work that it is possible to express platform concepts and platform dependency constraints in OWL DL, where platform represents a part of the context for a software system. We believe that it is possible to generalise this approach to context and context constraints. In this paper, we discuss briefly how context and context constraints can be expressed in OWL DL. We then illustrate how context constraints can be integrated with a configuration language.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Symposium on Software Variability: a Programmers' Perspective
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2008
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009


ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet


  • Configuration languages
  • Software engineering
  • Ontology

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