Google sets up Code Labs for developers

API policies key to effort to allow Google engineering teams opportunities to explore ideas in their early stages, while also involving development community

Looking to offer assistance on APIs, Google on Tuesday announced Code Labs for early-stage developer products.

The goal of Code Labs is to give Google engineering teams an opportunity to explore ideas, as well as let the development community get involved with products early and participate in exploration, according to Google. Code Labs also is intended to provide clarity about policies and support services as well as offer information about APIs.

"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 the invaluable feedback and insights we receive from you about each product as it evolves," said Tom Stocky, director of Google developer products, in a blog post.

"Reflecting this culture, we're pleased to introduce Google Code Labs today as a home for developer products still in the 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," Stocky said.

Google also announced a list of several Google Code Lab "graduates," featuring best-known APIs and tools. Among those on the list are App Engine, Google Web Toolkit, AJAX Search API, Maps API, Earth API, Calendar Data API, and YouTube APIs. The full list can be found on the Google Code Labs page.

For graduate APIs, the company is publishing "deprecation policies," pertaining to provision of services, Stocky said. Examples of "transparent" deprecation policies are featured, including API terms for Visualization, Contract Data, and Picasa Web Albums Data. "They state that we'll support each version for at least three years from when it's deprecated or a newer version is introduced," Stocky said. Time periods may vary from product to product.

Some products, Stocky said, have features labeled "experimental," which could change or be removed at any time while the rest of the API is covered by a deprecation policy with long-term support.

The company is bidding farewell to its SOAP Search API, Stocky said, noting, "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 31."

The SOAP Search API has been steadily declining in usage during the last couple of years, and Google believes the majority of use cases are sufficiently handled by AJAX Search API, he said.

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