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Google Opens Code Labs To Test Developer Products

The search giant's latest labs program is a place to shepherd unfinished or experimental developer products toward maturity and wide adoption.

Google on Tuesday launched Google Code Labs, another of its lab programs designed to shepherd experimental projects along the path toward maturity and wide adoption.

Google already has several labs programs running, including Google Labs, Gmail Labs, and Google Enterprise Labs. Each is designed to serve as a point of distribution and feedback for a particular set of Google software and services.

The labs designation provides a way for Google to test products that it may not be ready to support and that it may want to withdraw if user testing doesn't go well. It represents an interim step for Google products between internal testing and commercial release. It could also be described as a back-end for beta testing.

Microsoft and Yahoo have adopted a similar product release paradigm at Windows Live Betas and the Yahoo Developer Network.

Google Code Labs is a place for unfinished or experimental developer products. Google has more than 60 APIs that programmers can use to make use of Google's data and infrastructure. Some of them are officially recognized and supported while others have been placed in Google Code Labs until they're ready.

"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," said Google developer products director Tom Stocky in a blog post. "The Labs program offers engineering teams at Google and the developer community a chance to explore ideas and get involved early."

Practically speaking, Google APIs in Labs may change or be removed without much notice. When an API graduates from Labs, that means Google has made a long-term commitment to the service. That commitment is reflected by a published deprecation policy offering, in most cases, three years of support following a change, like the introduction of a new version of the API. It also includes a dedicated engineering team and ongoing testing.

Some of the APIs that have graduated from Google Code Labs include App Engine, Google Web Toolkit, Ajax Search API, Maps API, Earth API, Calendar Data API, and YouTube APIs.

Labs APIs include Base Data API, Coupon Feeds, Gears, Safe Browsing APIs, and Social Graph API, to name a few.

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