Google Sheets API V3 Deprecation Highlights Importance of Dev Alignment With API Roadmaps

Google announced in September of 2019 that they plan on ending support for V3 of the Google Sheets APITrack this API, a decision that has drawn the ire of some developers. Version 4 of the API was announced at Google I/O 2016, almost 4 years before the seemingly inevitable deprecation of its predecessor. 

CBR recently published coverage of the drama, highlighting several complaints from developers that outline advantages of version 3 of the API over its replacement. CBR quoted Ajay Goel, who founded a mass email system for Gmail, as saying that:

“The concept of ‘structured queries’ disappears in v4, and if you want rows matching certain criteria, the only option is to return ALL ROWS and ALL COLUMNS of a Sheet and then filter the data in code on the client’s end.”

GMass, the company founded by Goel, clearly benefits from the structured queries feature included in V3. However, the company didn’t simply remove this feature from version 3 and call it a day, the company made significant advancements that serve what they view as the future of the product. The announcement of the deprecation of V3 highlighted additions to V4 that include “critical features like filters, conditional formatting, charts, and pivot tables.” Google also says that V4 enables batch methods for better performance and includes an easier to use interface.

So where does this all land us? Should Google be doing a better job of listening to the end-users of its products, or is it simply impossible to please everyone? Regardless of who is right or wrong in this situation, it is clear that developers that fall out of alignment with the roadmaps of their API providers are likely to find themselves and their applications in precarious situations at some point. The responsibility rests with both parties (providers and developers) to stay engaged with each other to ensure that applications don't break (due to breaking changes in the API) and that the concerns of the developer community are monitored and addressed as best as possible given whatever constraints there are for the API provider.

Although Google declined to comment directly on the issue, a representative did note that developers are encouraged to reach out with questions regarding feature changes via the developer help center. Google has provided developers with a migration guide that the company hopes will help developers with the transition. The company will be officially retiring the Sheets v3 API on March 3, 2020. 

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