(PhD position) Software engineering and virtual reality: towards better development of VR applications

Position PHD

Expected start date2023-09-01

Estimated duration36 months

Education level

ContactArnaud Blouin, Valérie Gouranton, Mathieu Achermathieu.acher@irisa.fr

PhD Position “Software engineering and virtual reality: towards better development of VR applications”


Despite the growing industrial interest in virtual reality (VR) applications, their development is still carried out in an artisanal manner, leading to high development costs. This is particularly the case for families of VR applications (e.g. vehicle maintenance training with learning) for which engineers develop each of the applications in the same family in an ad-hoc manner despite the many commonalities from a software engineering (SE) perspective.

The GL provides approaches to better manage the development of common functionality applications. In particular, software variability and product lines allow software development to be considered at the level of a family of applications. Adapted to VR, these approaches would significantly reduce development time and provide efficient means of software testing.

In a first step of this GL-RV collaboration (thesis: Towards the automatic generation of Virtual Reality applications), we have exploited the business knowledge about the activity of different VR experts to facilitate the design of VR experiments. In a second step, with the aim of generalisation, the same approach was applied to produce semi-automatically: on the GL side, documentation for software modelling languages; on the VR side, a reactive informed environment.

These previous works, however, did not address the major issues of software variability and product lines in VR applications, nor the testing of these applications, which remains a barrier to the industrialisation of this type of application.

Under these assumptions, the thesis work aims to improve the production of VR applications subject to a high variability factor. For this purpose, GL techniques (variability management, dynamic product line, dedicated language) will be studied during the design phase. The objective is to produce generic software components common to a family of VR applications. The expected benefits are a factorisation and a semi-automation of this production. To validate and debug the development of these components, the developer will need to be able to interact with the virtual environment to iterate this development process.


[1] Gwendal Le Moulec, Ferran Argelaguet, Valérie Gouranton, Arnaud Blouin, Bruno Arnaldi, AGENT: Automatic Generation of Experimental Protocol Runtime, ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST), Nov 2017, Gothenburg, Sweden. 2017, Virtual Reality Software and Technology

[2] Gwendal Le Moulec, Arnaud Blouin, Valérie Gouranton, Bruno Arnaldi, Automatic Production of End User Documentation for DSLs, COMLAN, 2018

[3] Thierry Duval, Arnaud Blouin, Jean-Marc Jézéquel, When Model Driven Engineering meets Virtual Reality: Feedback from Application to the Collaviz Framework, Software Engineering and Architectures for Realtime Interactive Systems Working Group, Mar 2014, Minnesota, United States. 2014

[4] Guillaume Claude, Valérie Gouranton, Bruno Arnaldi, Versatile Scenario Guidance for Collaborative Virtual Environments, 10th International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (GRAPP’15), Mar 2015, berlin, Germany

[5] Rozenn Bouville, Valérie Gouranton, Thomas Boggini, Florian Nouviale, Bruno Arnaldi, #FIVE: High-Level Components for Developing Collaborative and Interactive Virtual Environments, Eighth Workshop on Software Engineering and Architectures for Realtime Interactive Systems (SEARIS 2015), conjunction with IEEE Virtual Reality (VR), Mar 2015, Arles, France

[6] Benoit Combemale, Robert France, Jean-Marc Jézéquel, Bernhard Rumpe, Jim R.H. Steel, Didier Vojtisek, Engineering Modeling Languages, Chapman and Hall/CRC, pp.398, 2016

[7] Arnaud Blouin, Jean-Marc Jézéquel. Interacto: A Modern User Interaction Processing Model. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 2021

[8] Flavien Lécuyer, Valérie Gouranton, Aurélien Lamercerie, Adrien Reuzeau, Benoit Caillaud, Bruno Arnaldi. Unveiling the implicit knowledge, one scenario at a time. The Visual Computer, Springer Verlag, 2020, pp.1-12

[9] Flavien Lécuyer, Valérie Gouranton, Adrien Reuzeau, Ronan Gaugne, Bruno Arnaldi. Action sequencing in VR, a no-code approach. LNCS, Transactions on Computational Science, special issue on Computer Graphics, Springer, 2020, pp.57-76

[10] Luc Lesoil, Mathieu Acher, Arnaud Blouin, Jean-Marc Jézéquel. Deep Software Variability: Towards Handling Cross-Layer Configuration, VaMoS 2021 - 15th International Working Conference on Variability Modelling of Software-Intensive Systems, Feb 2021, Krems / Virtual, Austria. pp.1-8

[11] Hugo Martin, Mathieu Acher, Juliana Alves Pereira, Luc Lesoil, Jean-Marc Jézéquel, and Djamel Eddine Khelladi. Transfer Learning Across Variants and Versions: The Case of Linux Kernel Size (2021). In IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering

[12] Mauricio Alférez, Mathieu Acher, José A Galindo, Benoit Baudry, and David Benavides. Modeling Variability in the Video Domain: Language and Experience Report (2019). In Software Quality Journal


The work will be realized in the DiverSE research team together with the HYBRID team, joint to the CNRS (IRISA) and Inria. The DiverSE and HYBRID team are both located in Rennes, Brittany, France. DiverSE’s research is in the area of software engineering. HYBRID team specialty lies in 3D interaction with virtual environments using body and mind. The teams are actively involved in European, French and industrial projects. The candidate will work more specifically with Prof. Mathieu Acher (INSA Rennes, DiverSE team), Assoc. Prof. Arnaud Blouin (INSA Rennes, DiverSE team), and Assoc. Prof. Valérie Gouranton (INSA Rennes, DiverSE team).

Skills and background

  • Experience in software development and engineering
  • Autonomy, and the ability to work in a distributed and international group.
  • Fluent in English