Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December

Adam DuVander, May 27th, 2011

Google TranslateProving 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?”

We list 23 translation APIs in our directory, including the Bing Translator API from Microsoft.

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.

Tags: Google, Issues
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20 Responses to “Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December”

May 27th, 2011
at 7:17 pm
Comment by: Connor

At least the website will still work. Glass half full, right?

May 27th, 2011
at 8:25 pm
Comment by: S>Mack

Couldnt compete with anyways…Ortsbo is free real-time translation of over 50 languages across 13 social media sites and has a email plug-in for instant email translation in real-time.

May 28th, 2011
at 11:00 am
Comment by: Building Your Business Around Google or Any Other APIs | API Evangelist

[...] Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December [...]

May 29th, 2011
at 3:46 pm
Comment by: Google don’t be evil? Don’t Shut Down Google Translate API! | Pino Bruno

[...] da eliminare. E chissenefrega se così resteranno con il sedere per terra migliaia e migliaia di sviluppatori che hanno creato software e applicazioni open [...]

May 30th, 2011
at 12:25 pm
Comment by: Why Larry Page killed Google Translate API and other assorted thoughts - GTS Blog

[...] Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December ( Google Translate API, GoogleTranslate, Language Weaver Leave a comment Trackback [...]

May 30th, 2011
at 8:13 pm
Comment by: ortsbo fraud uses google translate api.

May 31st, 2011
at 4:24 pm
Comment by: More victims in the Google API Graveyard « BCmoney MobileTV

[...] Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December (programmableweb) [...]

May 31st, 2011
at 7:29 pm
Comment by: WordReference AJAX SDK/Widget « BCmoney MobileTV

[...] Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December ( [...]

June 1st, 2011
at 12:02 am
Comment by: Should We Be Limiting Developers API Usage?

[...] And in some cases, even the rates aren’t enough for a provider to get what it needs, as when Google put the kibosh on Translate. Are limits simply a sign that a provider needs to find a strategy that [...]

June 3rd, 2011
at 2:57 pm
Comment by: C’est Magnifique: Google to Offer Paid Version of Translate API

[...] version of its Google Translate API. Last week the company said it would pull the plug after the Translate API saw extensive abuse. There are no details on pricing, or a timeline, but the free API is not scheduled for removal [...]

June 4th, 2011
at 7:55 am
Comment by: C’est Magnifique: Google to Offer Paid Version of Translate API ‹ Matt Briney – Web Strategist, Data Junkie, Web Application Developer, Traveler and Technology Enthusiast

[...] version of its Google Translate API. Last week the company said it would pull the plug after the Translate API saw extensive abuse. There are no details on pricing, or a timeline, but the free API is not scheduled for removal [...]

June 7th, 2011
at 12:42 am
Comment by: zdas

there are alternatives like the WhiteSmoke Translator one which it’s usage gets very popular like a virus

June 16th, 2011
at 12:01 am
Comment by: What’s Next After the Google Translate API?

[...] you’ve probably heard the thunderclap that just went round the API ecosphere – Google is deprecating a host of APIs. After years of building developers’ trust in their platform, Google is effectively pulling [...]

July 6th, 2011
at 10:36 am
Comment by: Plug to be Pulled on Google Health and PowerMeter

[...] that the API cleaning has not yet ended at Google. Awhile back, Google announced its decision to shut down its popular translation API, a decision that did not go down favourably with the users. Now Google Health has been given a [...]

August 29th, 2011
at 10:01 am
Comment by: Google Translate API is Back… For a Fee

[...] pulling the plug on its Google Translate API, the company will now charge for the service. It hopes the fee will [...]

September 6th, 2011
at 9:15 am
Comment by: Grant

Google grow to big to be manageable by any standards.
Same thing, as I remember, happen with Mastodons. Soon after they died out….

September 6th, 2011
at 9:17 am
Comment by: Grant

Pretty sure that at first stocks of the Google will go down and then anyone who involved with this stinky monster will run for cover.

September 6th, 2011
at 10:01 am
Comment by: Google Maps for Flash Among Several Axed Google APIs

[...] spell of “Operation Product Cleanup” at Google. Some of the high profile announcements like shutting down of the Google Translate API and the outrage have seen it reframed as a paid version. Others, like [...]

November 14th, 2011
at 12:33 pm
Comment by: Wordfast is failing to get machine translation from Google

[...] will continue to be available. Read, for example, the "Important" note in this blog: Google Translate API to Go “Kaputt” in December Hope this helps. Cheers. P. Reply With Quote + Reply to Thread [...]

August 20th, 2012
at 1:47 am
Comment by: With the Google Translate API no longer free, Lionbridge pushes realtime, customizable machine translation for online chat. « peallinguistics

[...] Lionbridge also sees a market opportunity now that the best known cloud translation service is no longer free. Google, which has invested heavily in machine translation technology to help it handle multilingual Web content, is shutting down free access to the translation application programming interface it had offered since 2008. Paid access to the Google Translate API was announced in August, after Google at first announced it would simply discontinue support for the Translate API. [...]

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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.