Shopify revises its API every quarter, and the timing is on the 1st of January, March, June, and September throughout the year. It is important for developers to keep reviewing these changes as their code needs to adjust for their code affecting the online stores, and their code in the Shopify app store. As for store owners, reaching out to your developer contact of an app would be wise as well as reviewing the release notes associated with the changes taking place. Shopify's Deprecation is just part of the development process which evolves as a platform matures, and changes are also reflected in the Shopify API Documentation.
Shopify API Versioning
The way they are annotated as an example for 2021 each quarter is incremented from January as 01, April as 02, July as 03, and October as 04. The last version was 2021-04. This upcoming version will be 2022-01
Why is there deprecation
Input from developers and store owners continually expands the API functionality. Some of the requests are based on the expanded functionality of a function and when one is re-written for this enhancement it is given a new name. In order to coordinate all the developers to the new function, the scheduled deprecation allows for the removal of the older code which is no longer supported. The Shopify Partner Program works through these updates.
Transitioning the code
In order to change your code for your Shopify App, the App is making requests to the older function and now needs to use the latest stable APIs. There is an overlap where both functions are in the current release, and updated apps are in release candidate as they transition to the new functions. The oldest supported version of the Shopify App has then been pulled from the Shopify App Store and the release candidate is then updated with the latest version of the API. There is 1 full year to transition, where this January 1st, 2022 version 2022-01 will then deprecate the functions scheduled to be affected from version 2021-01.
What should Store Owners do?
With online stores having many apps running in their stores, an "API Health Report" should be conducted at least one month before the deprecation schedule takes place. If your developer builds an App, doing this review should be part of the development process. If you have a Shopify Agency running your store, then doing the health report by reviewing all the apps will ensure there are no surprises. Store owners are focused on selling products but do require the confidence that their Apps will have reliability.
Online Store maintenance
With online stores holding many Shopify Apps, the cycle of the review being preventative to your store's health inevitably there will be times where maintenance will be required which usually surrounds marketing events such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Planning Shopify App updates, such as Shopify Custom Apps or Shopify Private Apps that are being affected requires planning and budgeting. Alerting and communicating with your Shopify App Store developers on transitions based on deprecations will get a schedule back on when an update will be posted in the Shopify App Store. Tracking the Shopify Public Apps schedule and timing your Shopify Private/Custom Apps should be part of your maintenance to-do list.
There is much that goes on beyond using a Shopify website builder and stuffing the store with a few Shopify Apps. The Shopify Apps dependencies on the Shopify deprecation of its API functions still puts store owners in the position to keep tabs on their dependent functionality by being vigilant on Shopify's release notes, the API Health report checker, and reaching out to the developer contact for each Shopify App affected. If you are unsure of how to process and manage your online store, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we are here to help.