Enterprise Development

MUSA: A Multi-touch Variability Modelling Solution for Software Product Lines


This work is the subject of a patent application. A US patent application was filed on 7 Jan 2009 with Publication Number US2010/0171745

Opportunity Status
Queens wishes to talk to companies interested in developing the commercial opportunities for this novel and exciting technology

To discuss this further please contact:
Dr Paul Donachy
Head of Business Development and Commercial Exploitation

Request Further Information: Project Number P109083 - MUSA

Project part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

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Project number
P109083 , POC13A

Researchers at QUB have developed a Variability Management software suite based on novel tools and IP that integrates with Multi-touch display technology. 


  • Multi–touch based workstation
  • Unique Four Views Model (4VM) for Variability Management


Software Product-line (SPL) Engineering has emerged as a major strategy for maximizing reuse when a family of related software systems is developed. In this approach, commonality-variability analysis of the member products is a major phase of the process which determines its success. This is often referred to as Variability Management, the outcome of which is a Variability Model that catalogues the commonalities and variabilities among the different members of the product line. The model, which is usually in the form of a feature tree, is then used by the different development teams (architects, developers, etc.) to form the basis of their work in order to maximize the reuse of artefacts (design, code, documentation, etc.) among the different member products being developed.

One of the main challenges within Variability Management is the handling of real-life large-scale models which usually comprise a large number (typically in the 100K LOC) of variability points along with the dependency relationships that exist among them. Current approaches to alleviate this problem range from providing simple tree structures to 3D representations of the variability model; However, none of these approaches have had a notable success to be adopted within a real-life production line. This is due to the inherent problem with existing I/O devices which are quite limited in terms of what they can display (e.g. limited screen sizes) in one view, and the way information/commands can be inputted (e.g. Keyboard & Mouse). 


MUSA resolves the problem of managing large-scale variability models by integrating our Variability Management techniques, tools and IP with Multi-touch display technology.  While our variability management solutions provide a robust and rich modelling framework as well as a bespoke separation-of-concerns mechanism, the multi-touch workstation complements this to provide an intuitive and large display for navigating and constructing the variability model. It also supports a collaborative design environment due to the fact that the multi-touch workstation would accommodate input from multiple users at the same time

Market Opportunity

Recently, a well-defined segment of collaborative product definition management (cPDm) has evolved.  In 2006, Frost and Sullivan (World Product Lifecycle Management Solutions market, 2006) valued the cPDm market us USD$6 billion in 2005. Larger players such as Microsoft and IBM have by far the greatest market share with smaller startup companies (such as Sparx and bigLever) having a much smaller share of the market.