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The Java® Language Specification, Java SE 7 Edition, Fourth Edition by Alex Buckley, Gilad Bracha, Guy Steele, Bill Joy, James Gosling

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Chapter 13. Binary Compatibility

Development tools for the Java programming language should support automatic recompilation as necessary whenever source code is available. Particular implementations may also store the source and binary of types in a versioning database and implement a ClassLoader that uses integrity mechanisms of the database to prevent linkage errors by providing binary-compatible versions of types to clients.

Developers of packages and classes that are to be widely distributed face a different set of problems. In the Internet, which is our favorite example of a widely distributed system, it is often impractical or impossible to automatically recompile the pre-existing binaries that directly or indirectly depend on a type that ...

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