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Market Maker Software AG: MERGER Software Product Line

MARKET MAKER Software AG, Kaiserslautern, Germany, provides Europe’s most popular stock market software. Since 1989, its products have allowed the stock market to be tracked and analyzed. In 1999, MARKET MAKER decided to launch an internet-based version of its product, using the functionality of their desktop products as the engine to power other companies’ financial web sites. This kind of system has to integrate with the customers’ databases and other content-producing software, run on who-knows-what kind of computing platforms and servers, satisfy human-user performance requirements, and be tailored to show exactly the kind of data, in exactly the kind of charts, in exactly the kind of form required by each particular customer’s web site. That is, the product must be flexible, widely tailorable, deliverable in a very short amount of time, and producible by a very small development staff.

For these reasons, MARKET MAKER decided to plan the internet versions right from the beginning as a software product line, which they called MERGER. The result is a 520 KSLOC system that meets all of those requirements and more. Six people (two of whom were part-time) worked for about a year to produce the core system, from which instantiated products are turned out. Each product in the family must be built to the client’s specifications and installed and tested on the client’s own platform. Because of their systematic product line approach, MARKET MAKER is able to set up such systems in a few days. In the early days of the product line, this short time-to-market was the major advantage of MARKET MAKER over its competitors. In the current bad economic times, MARKET MAKER can survive because of their small, efficient team required for maintaining the running systems.


P. Clements and L. Northrop, Software Product Lines: Practices and Patterns, Addison Wesley, 2001.

Gacek, P. Knauber, K. Schmid, and P. Clements. Successful Software Product Line Development in a Small Organization. A Case Study, Technical Report, Fraunhofer Institut for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE), 013.01/E, 2001.


About This Product Line

Market Maker was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Second Software Product Line Conference (SPLC2).

Cited improvements to the Market Maker MERGER Software Product Line include time to market improvement systems installed in a few days, small development team able to support entire product line, reduction of time to market: 2-4, break-even: after about five products, and reduction of maintenance costs: ~60%, reduced cost of quality (reliability in the field)