Introducing Labs for Google Code

MAR 03, 2009
Tom Stocky, Director, Google Developer Products

As Google's developer program continues to grow -- already over 60 APIs and tools on Google Code today -- we credit much of this growth to a culture of exploration and rapid iteration, and to the invaluable feedback and insights we receive from you about each product as it evolves.

Reflecting this culture, we're pleased to introduce Google Code Labs today as a home for developer products still in their early stages of development. Our hope, of course, is that all of our developer products grow up to be huge successes, but we realize that not every single one will reach that goal. The Labs program offers engineering teams at Google and the developer community a chance to explore ideas and get involved early.

With that background, we're also announcing that several of our best-known and most-used APIs and tools are among the first set of Google Code Labs "graduates" -- including App Engine, Google Web Toolkit, AJAX Search API, Maps API, Earth API, Calendar Data API, YouTube APIs, and more. See the full list of graduates on the Google Code Labs page.

For these graduates, we're increasing our commitment with published deprecation policies and other critical support services. The Visualization API terms, Contacts Data API terms, and Picasa Web Albums Data API terms include good examples of transparent deprecation policies. They state that we'll support each version for at least 3 years from when it's deprecated or a newer version is introduced. We're working to get policies posted for the other graduates as well, though the time period may vary a bit from product to product. It will be 3 years for most, but it might be less for some. The AdWords API, for example, has a policy of supporting old versions for 4 months.

Of course, even established products need a way to experiment with new features. With that in mind, some products will have features labeled "experimental" that could change (or even be removed) at any time, while the rest of the API is covered by a deprecation policy with long-term support.

There are additional hurdles for an API to graduate from Labs. They include requirements like having a dedicated, ongoing engineering team and comprehensive test suite. We also want to do things like the App Engine System Status Dashboard for more products.

Finally, we'd like to bid a fond adieu to one of our first developer products, the venerable SOAP Search API. It has been deprecated since 2006, when we stopped accepting new developers for the API, and it's finally hanging up the gloves and retiring on August 31st. It has been steadily declining in usage over the last couple years and we believe that the majority of use cases are sufficiently handled by the more comprehensive AJAX Search API (which supports not only web search, but local, news, images, video, and more). For those interested in migrating, there are more details in the AJAX APIs blog.

Thank you for making the past five-plus years such a success. We look forward to doing great things together with Google Code Labs and we hope you'll join us in congratulating the new graduates.