After a dozen of french and german trains, I’m back from VaMoS 2020 and Magdeburg. The effort was worth: a great conference about (software) variants/configurations with many discussions (a key feature of VaMoS!) and a diverse set of papers/presentations. I was co-chairing the program committee with Maxime Cordy this year. Modeling variability is the general theme, but the papers cover quite different topics, from counting, sampling, and learning (more related to artificial intelligence problems like SAT solving) to maintenance, evolution and reverse engineering of software. The applicability is also sparse: we selected papers about security, cyber-physical production systems, or operating systems. Some works tackle C-based code, Java code, Docker, modeling and testing artifacts, games artifacts, etc.
The program was intense during 2 days and a half. There were 8 sessions with 3 presentations each and then a 30-minutes plenary discussions with the presenters and a moderator trying to wrap up and find synergies between problems and proposed solutions. Presenting at VaMoS means receiving feedbacks about your paper (10’ of questions), finding research opportunities and links with other works, basically connecting the dots while networking/collaborating. You can also hear about some (industrial) projects in the field. I think the spirit of VaMoS is still there, since all participants were active either asking questions, providing feedbacks, or proposing ideas.
In addition to papers’ sessions, we have been lucky to have two great keynotes. The first keynote of Andrzej Wasowski was about the dark side of variability, mainly so-called dependency bugs that cost so many troubles and energies to software projects (e.g., ROS project in the robotic domain). The second keynote of Nelly Bencomo was more about the “bright” side and how we can embrace uncertainty and variability in self-adaptive systems. Very different talks, but definitely complementary and both give foods for thought! It’s also cool to have Nelly and Andrzej back at VaMoS.
Besides, two most influential papers were rewarded. Thorsten Berger made a nice presentation about the variability model of the Linux kernel (out of Kconfig), explaining how the idea pops out and showing the impacts on the scientific community but also on Linux itself (though the work is not really over!). David Benavides also explains the “story” behind the paper, namely how he and his co-authors found the idea, got rejection(s) and acceptance(s), or collaborated with Don Batory that developped similar ideas around the same period. David also emphasized the crucial role of other colleagues in the field and José Galindo for having developed FAMA, the framework for automated analysis of feature models. Again, two great talks!
VaMoS was a nice event (and by the way MODEVAR the day before was as great, with nice sessions about designing/developing a feature modeling language). Sandro Schulze and Anja Buch nicely organized the event together with the locals Gunter Saake, Danilo Beuche, Jacob Krüger, Sebastian Krieter, Yang Li, and I forgot many. The proceedings of VaMoS is online (through the ACM library) and you should find many preprints/PDFs online (see the program). It was an honour for me to co-chair this year. I’ve attended lots of VaMoS editions since 2011 and I still love the topic and the interactions in the community. I’m also sure the scope of (software) variability will expand in the future! Next venues for variability modeling: SPLC 2020 co-located with MODELS 2020 in Montreal (Canada)