Google has announced major changes to its deprecation policies and has announced the official deprecation of several more APIs
Some of the tools and services that have been deprecated in Google's latest clearout of APIs will linger for a full 3 years, until April 20th 2015. However in future the deprecation period (the length of time an API will remain functional after Google has decided to close it) will be capped at 1-year and in many cases will be removed altogether.
This may be good for Google but it doesn't provide much confidence any any service they provide. Would you bet you development work on an API that could be removed instantly at Google's whim? Even 1 year isn't much time to implement the changes necessary to replace one API by another.
Google App Engine, Google Maps/Earth APIs and YouTube API, which previously had 3-year deprecation policies, will transition to a 1-year policy, in line with Google Cloud Storage which already had a 1-year policy. The deprecation policy has also been shortened and now simply states that Google "we will strive to provide one year notice before making breaking changes".
More drastically Google is removing the deprecation policy from its other APIs. The list of those affected is:
Accounts API, AdSense Host API, Chart Tools API, Checkout API, Contacts API, Custom Search API, Documents API, Doubleclick for Publishers API, Feed API, Google Apps Admin APIs, Libraries API, Orkut API, Picasa Web Albums API, and Prediction API.
As these changes cannot be introduced retrospectively, there will be in a transition period with the 1-year policy being introduced on April 20th, 2014 and the no-deprecation policy taking full effect on April 20th 2015.
The Google blog post emphasizes that there are no current plans to sweep away any of these services with the words,
"To be very clear, we are not deprecating the APIs themselves" and it also promises, "As always, we will strive to keep changes to a minimum and announce them in a timely manner."
The whole value of an API depends on its stability both in terms of its interface definition and its long term availability. Google may be trying hard not to worry programmers but perhaps we should be concerned. It is also difficult to see what Google gains from these changes apart from minor savings in costs of running servers and some minor maintenance.
Compared to last autumn's "spring cleaning" exercise, the list of APIs included in this spring's deprecation round is fairly modest.
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