What Does Bytecode Mean?

Bytecode is object-oriented programming (OOP) code compiled to run on a virtual machine (VM) instead of a central processing unit (CPU). The VM transforms program code into readable machine language for the CPU because platforms utilize different code interpretation techniques. A VM converts bytecode for platform interoperability, but bytecode is not platform-specific.


Bytecode is in a compiled Java programming language format and has the .class extension executed by Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

This term is also known as portable code (p-code) and intermediate code.

Techopedia Explains Bytecode

Certain programming languages like C and C++ require different platform compilers, such as those in Windows, Mac or Linux, which depend on hardware and CPU communication methods and require recompiling. Bytecode does not require recompiling or changed code because VM enables programming for cross-platform code portability. The VM provider handles platform-specific language tasks.

Android and Flash are two well-known programming languages utilizing bytecode for easy interoperability.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…