BigLever Software™, the leading provider of systems and software product line (SPL) engineering framework, tools and services, today announced new integrations for further expanding adoption of the company’s industry-standard Gears SPL Lifecycle Framework™. As a Microsoft partner, BigLever is delivering off-the-shelf integration capabilities for Microsoft’s Visual Studio and Office Suite products. These enhancements will enable product line engineering teams in the Microsoft development community to consolidate systems and software assets and simplify processes across the entire development lifecycle – from requirements to design, implementation, testing, delivery, maintenance and evolution.

BigLever’s Gears SPL Engineering Tool and Lifecycle Framework enables companies to manage their product line portfolio as a single, automated production system – much like a manufacturing factory – that utilizes product feature profiles to automatically assemble and configure the assets needed to produce an entire product line. The Gears Framework provides a common set of SPL concepts and constructs for all tools and assets, which allows development processes to flow cleanly and efficiently from one stage to another across the full lifecycle. With this framework approach, engineering organizations can transition from conventional product-centric practices to highly efficient product line engineering. As a result, the business side of the organization can leverage dramatic engineering improvements to successfully target and hit new market windows, and ultimately, achieve greater profitability.  
 
Due to growing demand across a spectrum of industries, including customers in the aerospace & defense and automotive sectors, BigLever has expanded its integrations into the framework with the Visual Studio/Gears Bridge™. The new Bridge solution enables Microsoft developers to fully leverage Gears’ innovative feature-based variation management capabilities, directly from Visual Studio, to streamline and automate the production of their product line portfolios. BigLever has also incorporated new capabilities into the framework for supporting Microsoft Word, with additional support planned for the remaining products in the Office Suite.  
 
“Software-based product providers are increasingly seeing the powerful capacity for feature variation that software technology brings. For many, software innovation and variation is driving the breadth and reach of their portfolio. Managing software variations in line with other product variations – such as hardware, electronics, and so forth – within the context of the wider product lifecycle management process is vital for true product extensibility and marketability,” says Bola Rotibi, Research Director, Creative Intellect Consulting Ltd. “What is required is a platform for automating and managing the feature variation process to allow for faster and more quality controlled delivery. Just as essential is one that supports a framework that provides seamless integration into the broad range of key stakeholder tools, such as those that address the software development and delivery process. The imperative for doing this is the possibility of an end-to-end governance and management framework for the entire product line delivery process. Only then can customers feel confident in gaining the level of traceability and insight needed for controlled product change and release management and future product adaptability and extensibility.”
 
“We are excited to provide new expanded product line engineering capabilities for the Microsoft development community,” says Charles Krueger, BigLever CEO. “As the industry-standard framework, Gears is removing the barriers to SPL adoption. Our goal is to collaborate with partners and third party tool vendors to provide coverage for all development communities – and to meet the diverse engineering needs of all of our customers.”
 
The Gears SPL Lifecycle Framework is compatible with many of the industry standards in programming languages and compilers, integrated development environments, requirements management, change and configuration management, build systems, quality management, model driven development, word processors and documentation. BigLever also provides enhanced off-the-shelf Bridge solutions that support seamless product line engineering across each stage of the lifecycle. In addition to the new Microsoft integrations, the company’s product offering includes a broad range of Bridge solutions for development tools such as IBM’s Rational toolset and Open Source tools, including Eclipse and Subversion.
 
About BigLever’s Microsoft Integrations
The Microsoft Visual Studio/BigLever Software Gears Bridge™ enables Microsoft developers to access and utilize the BigLever Gears SPL Lifecycle Framework directly from the Visual Studio menus and user interface. The new Bridge solution provides:
 
· A feature model that can be viewed within Visual Studio and used to express the feature diversity (optional and varying feature choices) among all the products in the product line portfolio.
 
· A variation point mechanism, available directly from Visual Studio, that can be uniformly applied to product line assets – such as source code, test cases, word-based documents and so forth – to manage feature-based variations in all stages of the development lifecycle.
 
· A product configurator that can be actuated directly from within Visual Studio to automatically assemble and configure assets and their variation points – based on feature selections made in the feature model – to produce all of the products in the product line, with the push of a single button.
 
New Gears capabilities are also provided for enabling documentation teams to efficiently manage product line variations in Word documents by automatically producing different flavors of user guides and manuals, requirements, legal documents and contracts, instructions to distributers, and so forth. These artifacts are managed as first-class product line assets within Visual Studio.

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