End of Google’s Translate API.

June 1st, 2011 by Slav

Last week Adam Feldman Google’s APIs Product manager announced on the official Google Code blog that they are announcing some new apis but more importantly shutting down some old ones.
Among them a very popular Translate API.

This decision came as a big surprise to many developers, myself included. I have used this api in an CMS Flex App caled SiteManager.  SiteManager has a copy module and it’s used as a copy source for multilingual flash campaign websites. I used it to quickly generate non english copy for other versions of the site, to have a good idea how the multilingual labels and text would sit within the website whether there are any space or alignment problems etc.. It was just a great way to preview site in other languages before the officialy translated copy arrived from the client.

Now this is gone and while there are other alternatives (I recommend checking out the Microsoft Translator V2 ) this decision raises some questions about Google as a company and their relationship to developers.

I personally like(d) Google a lot, they were an example of a great open and innovative company, with a real love for developers. This love wasn’t just proclaimed but proved by many free APIs they provided for us developers.

But after this how can you trust Google API ever again ? What if this project I am working on and my customers will depend on it will be no longer working in half a year when Google decides to shut down a particular API the project uses? How am I supposed to explain that to my customers. What am I to do if they all demand their money back?

And what about their motto : “DO NO EVIL” ? Shutting down translate is clearly hurting many developers and many project, some of them non profit and designed to help other people from different countries. How is that NOT evil ?

And what’s next.. Google Maps ?!

The sad thing is , they have other alternatives like limiting the amount of queries per couple hundred a day for a free version and licencing projects that need more traffic.  Or to simply find a way to prevent an abuse. Shutting down this API is simply uncharacteristic of Google, very sudden and unkind decision. I’d expect it from Facebook but not from them. What’s going on with Google?

Posted in AS3, flash, Flex, Personal

7 Responses

  1. Neil Crookes

    Translate API was only in labs, it never “graduated” to an official released API. Maps is, so no worries there.

  2. Slavomir Durej

    Neil: I am not actually suggesting that the google maps will (in any near future) suffer the same fate as Translate API.

    The point is here : Google uncharacteristically, drastically and all of a sudden , takes away the service (being still on labs or not) which was already used and embraced by developers community.

  3. WiseImpact

    there are alternatives like WhiteSmoke translator ( http://www.WhiteSmoke.com ) and their usage spreads like a virus

  4. MT

    I wonder whether this paper from Google about watermarking MT output is related: http://aclweb.org/anthology-new/D/D11/D11-1126.pdf

  5. Slavomir

    looks like I had a prophetic / psychic moment when I jokingly said, “what’s next : Google Maps ?” :


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