Before we can make changes to sktime’s user interface, we need to make sure that users have time to make the necessary adjustments in their code. For this reason, we first need to deprecate functionality and change it only in a next release.


For upcoming changes and next releases, see our Milestones. For our long-term plan, see our Roadmap.

Deprecation policy#

sktime releases follow semantic versioning. A release number denotes <major>.<minor>.<patch> versions.

Our current deprecation policy is as follows:

  • all interface breaking (not downwards compatible) changes to public interfaces must be accompanied by deprecation. Examples: changes to defaults of existing parameters, removal of parameters. Non-examples: new parameters with a default value that leads to prior behaviour.

  • such changes or removals happen only at MINOR or MAJOR versions, not at PATCH versions.

  • deprecation warnings must be included for at least one full MINOR version cycle before change or removal. Therefore, typically, the change or removal happens at the second next MINOR release.

Example process: 1. developer A resolves, at current state v0.9.3, to remove functionality X at some point in the near future. 2. therefore, by the above, we should introduce a deprecation message, visible from next release (e.g., v0.9.4),

which says that functionality will be removed at v0.11.0

  1. developer A makes a pull request to remove functionality X which includes that deprecation warning.

The pull request is reviewed by core developers, with the suggestion by developer A accepted or rejected.

  1. If accepted and merged before v0.10.0 release, the PR goes in the next release, with a deprecation note in the release notes.

If PR acceptance takes until after v0.10.0 but before v0.11.0, the planned removal moves to v0.12.0 and the warning needs to be updated.

  1. an additional PR to remove deprecation warning and functionality X is prepared by developer A, for v0.12.0 but not merged

  2. a release manager merges the PR in part 5 as part of the release v0.12.0, effecting the removal.

Release notes of v0.12.0 includes a removal note.

Deprecation process#

The deprecation process is as follows:

  • Raise a warning. For all deprecated functionality, we raise a FutureWarning. The warning message should give the version number when the functionality will be changed and describe the new usage.

  • Add a TODO comment in the code. Add the following TODO comment to all pieces of code that can be removed: TODO: remove in <version-number>. For example, TODO: remove in v0.11.0. The TODO comment should describe which steps need to be taken for deprecation (e.g. removal of arguments, removal of functions or blocks of code). If changes need to be applied across multiple places, place multiple TODO comments.

  • Remove deprecated functionality. As part of the release process, all deprecated functionality that is due to be removed will be removed by searching for the TODO comments.

To raise the warning, we use the deprecated package. The package provides depreciation helper functions such as the deprecated decorator. When importing it from deprecated.sphinx, it automatically adds a deprecation message to the docstring. You can decorate functions, methods or classes.


In the examples below, the deprecated decorator will raise a FutureWarning saying that the functionality has been deprecated since version 0.9.0 and will be removed in version 0.11.0.


from deprecated.sphinx import deprecated

# TODO: remove in v0.11.0
@deprecated(version="0.9.0", reason="my_old_function will be removed in v0.11.0", category=FutureWarning)
def my_old_function(x, y):
    return x + y


from deprecated.sphinx import deprecated

class MyClass:

    # TODO: remove in v0.11.0
    @deprecated(version="0.9.0", reason="my_old_method will be removed in v0.11.0", category=FutureWarning)
    def my_old_method(self, x, y):
        return x + y


from deprecated.sphinx import deprecated

# TODO: remove in v0.11.0
@deprecated(version="0.9.0", reason="MyOldClass will be removed in v0.11.0", category=FutureWarning)
class MyOldClass:

Special deprecations#

This section outlines the deprecation process for cases which use of deprecated does not cover.

Deprecating tags#

To deprecate tags, it needs to be ensured that warnings are raised when the tag is used. There are two common scenarios: removing a tag, or renaming a tag.

For either scenario, the helper class TagAliaserMixin (in sktime.base) can be used.

To deprecate tags, add the TagAliaserMixin to BaseEstimator, or another BaseObject descendant. It is advised to select the youngest descendant that fully covers use of the deprecated tag. TagAliaserMixin overrides the tag family of methods, and should hence be the first class to inherit from (or in case of multiple mixins, earlier than BaseObject).

alias_dict in TagAliaserMixin contains a dictionary of deprecated tags: For removal, add an entry "old_tag_name": "". For renaming, add an entry "old_tag_name": "new_tag_name" deprecate_dict contains the version number of renaming or removal, and should have the same keys as alias_dict.

The TagAliaserMixin class will ensure that new tags alias old tags and vice versa, during the deprecation period. Informative warnings will be raised whenever the deprecated tags are being accessed.

When removing/renaming tags after the deprecation period, ensure to remove the removed tags from the dictionaries in TagAliaserMixin class. If no tags are deprecated anymore (e.g., all deprecated tags are removed/renamed), ensure to remove this class as a parent of BaseObject or BaseEstimator.