Characterising deprecated android APIs

Li Li, Jun Gao, Tegawende Bissyande, Lei Ma, Xin Xia, Jacques Klein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Because of functionality evolution, or security and performance-related changes, some APIs eventually become unnecessary in a software system and thus need to be cleaned to ensure proper maintainability. Those APIs are typically marked first as deprecated APIs and, as recommended, follow through a deprecated-replaceremove cycle, giving an opportunity to client application developers to smoothly adapt their code in next updates. Such a mechanism is adopted in the Android framework development where thousands of reusable APIs are made available to Android app developers. In this work, we present a research-based prototype tool called CDA and apply it to different revisions (i.e., releases or tags) of the Android framework code for characterising deprecated APIs. Based on the data mined by CDA, we then perform an exploratory study on API deprecation in the Android ecosystem and the associated challenges for maintaining quality apps. In particular, we investigate the prevalence of deprecated APIs, their annotations and documentation, their removal and consequences, their replacement messages, as well as developer reactions to API deprecation. Experimental results reveal several findings that further provide promising insights for future research directions related to deprecated Android APIs. Notably, by mining the source code of the Android framework base, we have identified three bugs related to deprecated APIs. These bugs have been quickly assigned and positively appreciated by the framework maintainers, who claim that these issues will be updated in future releases.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2018 ACM/IEEE 15th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories
Subtitle of host publicationMSR 2018 - Gothenburg, Sweden, 28-29 May 2018
EditorsYasutaka Kamei, Emily Hill
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781450357166
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018
EventIEEE International Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories 2018 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 28 May 201829 May 2018
Conference number: 15th (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering
ISSN (Print)0270-5257


ConferenceIEEE International Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories 2018
Abbreviated titleMSR 2018
Internet address

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