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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Why Did Google Stop Supporting The SOAP API?

Earlier this week, Google dropped some support for the SOAP API, finally making a formal announcement about it here. New sign-ups aren’t allowed, but the API calls will continue to be served. Why did they drop sign-ups? Google doesn’t explain, and so others are speculating.

Techdirt feels they did this for business reasons over technical reasons. John Battelle quotes Tim Bray’s thoughts, where Bray explains that without the SOAP API, Google is forcing:

you to hand over part of your web page to Google so that Google can display the search box and show the results the way they want (with a few token user configuration options), just as people do with Google AdSense ads or YouTube videos.

I have been using the API for a long time, it has been plagued with downtime, flaky response rates and not always accurate results, which may explain another reason why Google doesn’t want to invest more money it.

So what are developers left with? Not much, unless they want to go the route of an Evil API, a new scraping tool. Ironically, the SOAP API helped reduce some people feeling they needed to turn to scraping to draw on Google results.

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