Re: Deprecated (was When is it too much information?)

Subject: Re: Deprecated (was When is it too much information?)
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2013 06:16:37 -0500

As I recall, the term "deprecated" has been in use for decades in the software-standards business. Here is some research.

The term has been used within the the Internet's RFCs for quite some time. The index http://tools.ietf.org/rfc/ reveals the term in the titles of these RFCs, the earliest from 2004:
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3879
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4159
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5095
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6082
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6172
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6633
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6648
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6649
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6814

This RFC, dating from 1998, uses it in the text but not the title:
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2462

A recent discussion about deprecation at the IETF gives this advice:

"Except being unused was not part of the rationale for deprecating PTR. The rationale was that it didn't work well, was unreliable, and was unnecessary. Unused didn't figure into it at all. There's no inconsistency here. I think it's within the charter to deprecate (but not remove) anything we conclude is technically a bad idea, used or not."

In scientific publication a century earlier, the use of "deprecated" in the sense of "to be avoided" occurs in 1898 in the index of The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, Volume 54, on page 669:

'Primary,' use of term deprecated, 99, 100.

From page 99:

The President congratulated the Author on his important communication and asked whether there was any fossil evidence to show the age of the beds under those of Permo-Carboniferous age. The unconformities were important, and might indicate that there were rocks in the area older than those of Palaeozoic age. Would it not be better to avoid using the term 'Primary' for crystalline rocks suggested to be of 'Archaean' age?

Similarly, from 1897, the term "Eolithic" is deprecated in "The ancient stone implements, weapons and ornaments of Great Britain"
by Sir John Evans. The book's index refers to non-existent page 762, but the act of deprecation is on page 702. The aforementioned JGSL lists Sir John as a member of the Society's Council. He or his indexer seems to have favored--excuse me--favoured the word deprecated.

The sense was then and is now "previously suggested but now ought not be used." It is precise, technical, und nicht fuer die Kinder. Excuse me--not for the general and ungeeked audience.

On Thu, 21 Feb 2013 01:43:37 -0500, Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca> wrote:

But deprecated has a deeper meaning than "not used". The actual definition
that Peter [Hirons] gave was that deprecated refers to a feature or function that
has worked in the past, is still used, with the possibility that they may
be removed in the future.

One painful deprecation was the means for Mac OS X to run Power PC-based
apps. For at least 6 point revisions, developers were warned to
code apps as Universal binaries, yet several held out. Then out rolled
Mountain Lion and a whole series of current software now no longer works.
This may have started in Lion, but as I skipped from Snow Leopard to
Mountain Lion I was affected immediately.

Deprecation is necessary for advancement. But it doesn't mean no longer
used.
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Deprecated (was When is it too much information?): From: Debbie Hemstreet
Re: Deprecated (was When is it too much information?): From: Lauren
Re: Deprecated (was When is it too much information?): From: Tony Chung

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