Most things we rely on in our everyday life will contain sensors and electronic-based information and have enough computing power to run embedded software applications which connect to the Internet and clouds to get access to virtually unlimited resources. This future computing continuum, composed of a wide set of heterogeneous platforms, promises to be a fertile environment to engineer advanced services with high added value. In practice however, the extreme heterogeneity of platforms and networks is a major lock for software and service developers who are not able to exploit to their full potential the diversity of platforms capabilities.

Current software engineering approaches indeed tend to provide dedicated support for managing and exploiting only parts of the continuum. For example, current cloud computing and service-oriented software engineering practices provide efficient abstractions for virtualizing the infrastructure in order for the software engineers to concentrate on the business logic of the applications. However these techniques merely support integration of mobile devices, sensors and actuators "as-a-service" and lack specific support for advanced exploitation of these small devices. Furthermore, although sensor network nodes, gateways, smart-phones, and most smart-objects tend to be provided with clear documentation and proper interfaces, different vendors rely on different standards and conventions to use and customize their devices. Thus, most pervasive systems tend to be proprietary silos not easily exploitable by others.

The HEADS project leverages Model-Driven Software Engineering and generative programming techniques to provide a new integrated software engineering approach which enables the advanced exploitation of the full range of diversity and specificity of the future computing continuum. The main result of the HEADS project is an open-source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) supporting the collaboration between platform experts (having a deep knowledge of a reduced set of platforms) and service developers (needing to deal with a large set of platforms to develop added-value services). This IDE will include a Domain Specific Modeling Language and a methodology for the specification, validation, deployment and evolution of software-intensive services distributed across the future computing continuum.

The HEADS IDE will benefit to services developers by allowing them to easily exploit a set of heterogeneous platform (mobile devices, sensors, smart objects, etc.) in the design of their cloud based services. The HEADS IDE will also benefit platform experts which can capitalize their knowledge of a specific platform as a reusable plug-in for the HEADS IDE. Depending on the platforms and commercial objectives the HEADS plug-ins can be developed with different licensing models ranging from open-source to fully proprietary.

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