I watched the story about the Google SOAP Search API develop this week with some amusement because it seemed like the discussion instantly turned into one about religion rather than technology. There's plenty of technology being slung around of course, but it's mostly people getting up on their soapbox to shout about why their technology is the best. Basically, if you've ever seen a drive-by blogging argument over whether REST programming cures cancer or kills babies, the same thing is going on here. For their part, Google hasn't talked much about the motives behind the move, although it seems to me like the switch is purely business-driven. If you didn't follow the story, here's what happened.
Back in the beginning of December, Google decided to stop handing out keys to use their SOAP API and instead told everyone to use an AJAX API. The AJAX API lets Google insert advertisements into the results, which you aren't allowed to alter. There's no easy way to put advertisements into the SOAP message because the content coming back was just data without any presentation. You may have heard that Google makes a lot of money selling advertisements.
On Monday, an O'Reilly blogger picked up this story and gave a very brief summary of the reaction. This in turn spawned a story on Slashdot, which is pretty much guaranteed to cause any story to get out hand. The conversation there quickly centered on a few main points.
There may have been comments actually relevant to the story, but I'd have to put the moderation settings much lower to find them. This spilled over until Mark Lucovsky (formerly of Microsoft, now of Google) chimed in to say exactly the same lines that had already been said back when the API was shut down in the first place. Mark's post prompted Robert Scoble to join the fray and present a very confusing position about this being a Google vs. Microsoft battle. In some cases, sanity prevailed, while in other cases, not so much.
I've gotten some questions about the issue, but I don't think this really impacts us, our customers, or SOAP at all. This impacts some of Google's customers, but it mostly seems like Google is favoring the customers that pay them (by showing their advertisements) over the customers that don't.