System Interface Guide

Static Libraries

The traditional, static, implementation of libraries (.a files or archives), do not separate the application programming interface from its implementation (the contents of the library). When an application is linked to a static library, the object code that implements that library is bound into the executable object that results from the build. The source-level programming interface to the library can be preserved, but the application must be relinked to produce an executable that runs on a later version of an operating system. Future binary compatibility is assured only when shared libraries are used.

The presence of static libraries is a historical artifact and there is no mechanism to define their interfaces in a way that is separate from their implementation. For this reason, use of static libraries should be avoided by new applications.