Proving to be too popular, the Google Translate API will be discontinued December 1 due to what the company characterizes as “extensive abuse.” Effective immediately, rate limits will be greatly reduced. The search giant announced plans to shutter a dozen APIs in all, though most were older and less used than Translate.
Google described its “Spring Cleaning”:
As the web evolves and priorities change, we sometimes deprecate APIs – that is, remove them from active development – to free up resources and concentrate on moving forward. Today we’re announcing a spring cleaning for some of our APIs.
Note that the vast majority of Google APIs are not affected by this announcement.
Following the standard deprecation period – often, as long as three years – some of the deprecated APIs will be shut down. The rest have no scheduled date for shutdown, but won’t get any new features. The policy for each deprecated API is specified in its documentation.
Most of the deprecated APIs will continue to work for three years, because they’ve graduated from Google Labs. Though Translate was in V2, it was still part of Labs. Therefore, its deprecation policy is only six months.
Translate has been popular with developers, with 34 Google Translate mashups in our directory, including a fun translation game. However, it seems Translate’s popularity was part of the problem. “Due to extensive abuse of the API, we are unable to continue to support it in its current form,” Google’s Eitan Bencuya said. The Translate documentation references a “substantial economic burden.”
Dan Blankenhorn complains about the Translate news and that Google “buried the lead:”
No further explanation has been forthcoming, even in response to some fairly nasty (for Google fanbois) comments. An example of such a comment, from Vienna consultant Franz Enzenholder, reads “why should any developer, any company which wants to build a valuable product for the long term use any of your APIs ever again?”
Among the deprecated APIs are search APIs for blogs, images and news, which are part of our profile for Google Ajax Search API. Some of the deprecated APIs, including the Feedburner API, have no schedule for removal. However, the company plans to stop active development on all deprecated APIs, regardless of whether there is an end date for the API’s support.
The full list of deprecations is available from Google’s blog post.
With 88 Google APIs in our directory, it’s not surprising that the company is reconsidering the resources it provides to each of them. Three years is plenty of notice, but six months and reduced limits is a hardship to any application running on top of Translate. The biggest message, perhaps, that developers can receive is that the “Labs” moniker is not just a cutesy name. Any product in Google Labs should be truly considered temporary, no matter the version or popularity.