Google lets SOAP slip away

Support for the API for web services and other tasks is quietly axed in favour of Ajax, believed by many to be inferior

Google quietly axed support for the SOAP API this week, despite its popularity with users. From now on, the company says, programmers will be encouraged to continue using the Ajax API.

The announcement of the axing was leaked out with no fanfare on Google's website. "As of 5 December, 2006, we are no longer issuing API keys for the SOAP Search API," the notice said. "Developers with existing SOAP keys will not be affected."

Existing users are now being pointed towards the Ajax API. "Depending on your application, the Ajax Search API may be a better choice for you instead."

Its demise was obviously delayed by Google, as the official announcement was dated 5 December, yet users and Google insiders only became aware of it at the weekend.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) was a popular choice for programmers as it acted as their gateway into using Google and other search tools for developing applications. Crucially for programmers, using a Google tool such as SOAP did not mean that they also had to incorporate any of Google's services that incorporated some kind of payment, such as advertising.

The newsletter O'Reilly Radar noted that Ajax "does not provide the flexibility of the SOAP API... not only will it be bad for Google developers, but it is bad for people trying to learn web services."