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
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Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.