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       Survey of the state of the art in Versioning and Configuration Management       

The integration of a software built with heterogeneous development tools and the management of its evolution are still increasingly more difficult tasks nowadays in software engineering and maintenance field. Many existing tools used for software customization and maintenance (e.g. version managers like CVS) allow the creation, integration and versioning of applications in a uniform environment, and through hierarchical trees of versions (hiding in fact one main linear evolution). Such tools are limited especially because they deal with a too simple versioning mechanism of text files and because they have a primitive mechanism for tracking and merging the changes. Their basic approach is a simple comparison of edited files to memorize changes, based on a diff-like comparison process.

None of them can completely handle non-uniform solutions, proposed by different software producers, and manage non-hierarchical trees of versions.

 
       Mecasp brings something new under the sun       

This site presents a new product for the integration, customization and maintenance of heterogeneous resources (software, documents, data…) that can manage non-hierarchical trees of versions (hiding hierarchical trees of real variants). So, if standard tools are dedicated to the integration/merge of day-per-day small changes, this new product can manage merges of different complex variants of a system. The semantics of changes is no more only a list of updates calculated afterwards, but can be a complete description of changes or actions understood from the user point of view. Connectors to existing editors allow a perfect synchronization. So, if merges become more and more difficult to perform with standard tools when versions evolve, on the contrary they become easier each time conflicts are resolved with this new product, which can as well automate changes or propagate them through numerous other variants. This product can manage any XML definitions (XML superset), and its customization relies on models and meta-models (those are vendor and platform independent).

This product is today an operational prototype (Open Source, written in Java) that can be used for some developments where vendors could add numerous specific tools, or as a platform for further researches.

So, Mecasp generalizes the concepts of standard tools and offers more in the following ways:

  • With Mecasp, you don't manage the evolution of versions of only one software. You can manage a real hierarchy of variants of this software. It means that if the original software evolves independently towards completely different new softwares, you can manage them all inside Mecasp (all these softwares, and all versions for each of them). And you can merge when you want the functionnalities of any variant to build again a new software.
     
  • One main focus in Mecasp is the Merge process. If all standard tools rely on a "diff" comparison of sources between two versions to highlight changes, Mecasp do really more. Indeed, the standard "diff" comparison is often too limited. It is a very rough comparison, which can lead to very complex views of the changes. Each time versions evolve, each time the merge process becomes harder.
    On the contrary, with Mecasp, each time merges of versions are performed, each time further merges become easier. And during the merge process itself, the user doesn't see a rough diff / text comparison, he(r) can see the real changes with their real semantics explained.
     
  • And in fact, with Mecasp, one can not only manage version of source code, but any kind of data: sources, database, graphical interface definitions, xml definitions...
     
  • And thanks to Mecasp specific triggers, one can customize enterily the platform to fit its specific needs, to synchronize actions / changes...
     
  • and a lot more...




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