What is the meaning of deprecated code?

If you are working with software then you may have seen the term “deprecated” when reading through some software documentation. So, what does deprecated mean? Well, if you see something say “this has been deprecated..” when talking about some specific function/method, a software feature, or a particular software practice it just means that it should not be used because there is (or there will be) a better alternative in that software that should be used instead.

Deprecated software is still a part of the software

It’s important to note that a software feature that’s deprecated is still a part of that software. It’s just that the deprecated software may be removed in the future – and whether the software feature will actually be removed in the future depends on what that particular software vendor says.

Deprecated code is just a status of the code

Another important thing to remember is that if some code feature is deprecated, it really is just a status, or a label, applied to that code by the creators of that software to indicate that it should not be used. It doesn’t mean that deprecated software will behave any differently from software that is not labeled as deprecated.

Why is software deprecated? Why not just remove it completely?

The reason that a particular feature is deprecated instead of removing that software feature completely is because the software needs to stay backwards compatible. Suppose you are using a particular function in PHP or Java on which your entire website depends on. If that function is completely removed from the next version of PHP or Java then your website will stop working as soon as your upgrade your PHP or Java version. Obviously, it’s much better for the people who maintain the Java or PHP language to just say that the function is deprecated, and may be removed in future versions instead of just removing it immediately. This gives people time to discover that it will be removed and change their own code accordingly so that they don’t use the deprecated function any more.

What is deprecated in Java?

In Java, a program element (like a method), will be flagged as @Deprecated if Java developers are discouraged from using that particular program element or if there is a better option in the Java language that should be used instead by the developer. Also, if something is flagged as deprecated it’s an indication that it may be removed in a future version of Java. So, deprecated really just means the same thing in Java as it does in other languages.

Deprecated code is something that is just a natural part of the evolution of software – as software is improved, some features will become obsolete in which case they will be deprecated.

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