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A Framework for Software Product Line Practice, Version 5.0

A Framework for Software Product Line Practice is a Web-based, living document that aids the software community in software product line endeavors. Each version represents an incremental attempt to capture the latest information about successful software product line practices. This information has been gleaned from studies of organizations that have built product lines, from direct collaborations on software product lines with customer organizations, and from leading practitioners in software product lines.

In addition to this framework, other resources are available from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) including

What's New in Version 5.0

There are significant changes in Version 5.0 that reflect current prevalent trends in software engineering (the open source movement, globally distributed development, service-oriented architectures, model-driven development, and agile development), as well as a wave of new product line experiences that have surfaced new practices and references. The resultant changes to the framework include

Future versions will build on the current foundation by growing the body of knowledge and refining what is already there.

The document is extensively hyperlinked to facilitate rapid navigation. A bibliographic reference appears like this: [Smith 2006a], where the link Smith 2006a takes you to the entry for this reference in the framework's bibliography.

We welcome and value your feedback and contributions. Please email any comments to

Authors, Acknowledgements, SEI Trademarks & Service Marks


A Framework for Software Product Line Practice, Version 5.0
Linda M. Northrop, Paul C. Clements
with Felix Bachmann, John Bergey, Gary Chastek, Sholom Cohen, Patrick Donohoe, Lawrence Jones, Robert Krut, Reed Little, John McGregor, Liam O'Brien
Product Line Practice Initiative


The principal team of authors of Version 5.0 thank the many others who also directly contributed. The following individuals were on the author teams of earlier versions: Len Bass, Joe Batman, Lisa Brownsword, Grady Campbell, Matthew Fisher, Brian Gallagher, Dennis Smith, Albert Soule, Scott Tilley, Nelson Weiderman, Steven Woods, and Dave Zubrow. Pennie Walters was the primary editor, Bob Fantazier and Daniel Pipitone created the illustrations, and Robert Krut formatted this framework for the Web.

SEI Trademarks & Service Marks

Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method, ATAM, Capability Maturity Model, Capability Maturity Modeling, Carnegie Mellon, CMM, and CMMI are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.

CMM Integration, EPIC, Evolutionary Process for Integrating COTS-Based Systems, Framework for Software Product Line Practice, IDEAL, OAR, Options Analysis for Reengineering, Personal Software Process, PLTP, Product Line Technical Probe, PSP, and SEPG are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University.

Table of Contents – Version 5.0

We have provided three methods to traverse the information. Each content page will provide

  • a direct link back to this page, via a table of contents button, to browse the material randomly

  • next section and previous section buttons to browse the material in sequence


The third method to traverse the information is the sidebar navigation links. The links will expand based on the section currently being viewed.