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Science Park 3

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Personnel development

Brief comments on particular developments (perspectives)
This project established a research career for Achraf Ghabi and allowed Dr. Egyed (the PI) to continue working as a key player in the traceability research domain. This project was also instrumental in convincing Dr. Patrick Mäder to join the JKU as a Post Doc for two of the 3 project years. Dr. Mäder’s work on traceabilty was significantly different from this project but we benefited strongly from his expertise and the bonus application discussed above was the direct result of the synergy of this stay. Dr. Mäder received the prestigious Lise Meitner scholarship from the Austrian Science Fund and has since assumed a research position at the University of Illmenau, Germany where he continues his work on traceability. Finally, this project resulted in several high profile papers/publications involving PhD and contributing Masters students who strongly benefited this visibility.

Special possibilities opened up by the project (e.g. high-risk topics, intensification of transdisciplinary research etc.)

I believe the most significant impact of this proposed work is in its contribution to transdisciplinary research in context of the ACCM and FMTC project discussed above. Conventional wisdom suggests that better engineering tools lead to better engineered systems. Yet, despite an impressive and growing computer-supported tool landscape, engineering remains complex and hard to control. The problem is that most existing tools cater to the needs of individual engineers and not the needs of collaborating engineering teams. These tools divide rather than unite because 1) engineers download and manipulate tool documents (files) separately and 2) they focus on separate kinds of artifacts, tasks, and engineering disciplines. Consequently, engineers find it hard to maintain a consistent, overall view of the engineering process. Herein lies the dilemma: tool quality alone cannot guarantee engineering quality. What the existing tool landscape misses is how knowledge flows among engineers and the tools they use. Without this knowledge, engineers cannot effectively visualize the bigger picture, propagate changes among tools, and detect errors. This is known as the tool interoperability problem and it is the most critical software and systems engineering problem today. The DesignSpace project bridges the gap between single-user tools and collaborative engineering environments by providing engineers with flexible cross-tool sharing, transformation, linking, and guidance (e.g. inconsistency detection) to enable multi-user collaboration on an unprecedented scale. Here, traceability forms the very foundation in establishing links among tools and their artifacts. We already see that this work is touching a nerve for many companies today and plan on exploiting the results of this project for future projects, collaborations, and industrial applications.

Effects of the project and of research performed in the framework of the project on the international reputation of the project leader and co-workers
The reputation of the researches funded under this work (and with it the reputation of the host university JKU and the funding agency FWF) benefited strongly. 14 papers were written as the result of this proposed work (see later). Most of them are already published in highly reputable conferences and journals such as the International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution, the Automated Software Engineering Conference, the Working International Conference on Software Architectures, the Journal for Automated Software Engineering and even the Journal for Empirical Software Engineering. During the duration of this project, the PI was invited to join the editorial board of the Journal for Software and System Modeling (SoSyM). Moreover, the PI has given several invited talks that were directly related to this proposed work. Several papers were selected as the best-of papers. For example, the paper “Assessing the Effect of Requirements Traceability for Software Maintenance” was selected among the best paper of the ICSME 2014 conference and was subsequently published in the Journal for Empirical Software Engineering (JESE – accepted for publication).