Google Translate API to Go "Kaputt" in December

Adam DuVander
May. 27 2011, 07:37AM EDT

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?"

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.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

Comments

Comments(20)

Couldnt compete with Ortsbo.com 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.

[...] 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 [...]

[...] 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 [...]

Grant

Google grow to big to be manageable by any standards.

Same thing, as I remember, happen with Mastodons. Soon after they died out....

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.

[...] 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. [...]