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Software Configuration Management – Baselines

Change is a fact of life in software development. A baseline is a software configuration management concept that helps us to control change without seriously impeding justifiable change. Before a software configuration item becomes a baseline, change may be made quickly and formally. However once a baseline is established, we figuratively pass through a swinging one door. Changes can be made but a specific formal procedure must be applied to evaluate and verify each change.

In terms of software engineering, a baseline is a milestone in the development of software. A baseline is marked by the delivery of one or more software configuration items that have been approved as a consequence of a formal technical review. Software engineering tasks produce one or more software configuration items (SCIs). After SCIs are reviewed and approved, they are placed in a project database. When a member of a software team wants to make a modification to a baselined SCI, it is copied from the project database into the engineer’s private
workspace. However, this extracted SCI can be modified only if SCM controls are followed.

The Software Configuration Management process applied to this project identifies many types of baselines;each of them has specific identification rule and minimum verification characteristics.
All the development artifacts (source code, makefile, documentation) are identified and managed under configuration.

– Working baseline:
* Description: this is a development baseline in the private working area of a developer. This baseline is not identified since it is a private one.
* Identification: none
* Minimum characteristics: none
– Unstable baseline:
* Description: this is a development baseline in the public area of CVS.
* Identification: this baseline is not identified. It is only accessible as the ‘latest’ one.
* Minimum characteristics: none
– Stable baseline:
* Description: this is a development baseline in the public area of CVS. This baseline identifies a consistent set of modifications or an important step during the implementation of a modification.
* Identification: a stable baseline is identified according to the involved GHOSTS component and the current date.
* Minimum characteristics: a stable baseline shall be at least compilable / linkable.
– Official baseline:
* Description: this is a user baseline in the public area of CVS. This baseline identifies a consistent set of modifications; those modifications are well implemented, verified and tested.
* Identification: an official baseline is identified according to the part of the involved GHOSTS component and the release identification.
* Minimum characteristics: an official baseline shall be fully implemented, verified and tested.

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