Thousands petition Google not to kill off Reader

Google is eliminating Reader along with several developer tools as part of its ongoing effort to stay product-focused

More than 126,000 users of Google Reader have signed a new online petition imploring Google not to pull the plug on Google Reader. The company announced just yesterday that it was going to cut several services, including Google Reader, GUI Builder, and Cloud Connect as part of its ongoing effort to focus on products that will yield profit. The newest round of cuts brings the list of abandoned services and features to 70, according to Urs Hölzle, senior VP of technical infrastructure at Google.

"These changes are never easy," wrote Hölzle. "But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help [users] in their lives."

Google may face the most ire for its decision to eliminate its Google Reader effective July 1. First introduced in 2005, Reader enables users to easily subscribe to news feeds. The free Web-based service eventually turned into an Android App that allows users to access their subscriptions on the go while staying synced to their Web-based Reader account.

"While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined," Hölzle wrote. "Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months."

Google Takeout is a "data liberation platform," according to Google's Data Liberation Front engineering team. It's designed to help users transfer their data from various Google products -- including Reader, Google+, YouTube, and Google Docs -- to other services.

A petition has already appeared on, calling on Google to keep Reader running. "A few years ago -- years, wow -- Google Reader was one of my go-to social networks. ... [W]hen you added the amazing (amazing!) share and comment features, Google Reader blossomed into a wonderful experience for many of us, core to our day-to-day consumption of content online," wrote Daniel Lewis, creator of the petition. "Unfortunately, you decided to kill those 'extra' functions. ... But it's still a core part of my Internet use. And of the many, many others who are signed below."

Several of the services on the cut list are aimed at application developers. Among them are a few components of Apps Script, Google's cloud-based scripting language for lightweight application. Specifically, Google is eliminating the GUI Builder as well as five UiApp widgets -- Hyperlink, InlineHyperlink, LayoutPanel, RichTextArea, and SuggestBox -- effective Sept. 16. From then on, developers will not be able to create or manage GUI Builder components, though existing components will still function. The five widgets will cease to function entirely.

According to Saurabh Gupta, product manager for Google Apps Script, the move will enable the company to focus on Html Service, which Google launched last year to help developers build applications with familiar libraries such as jQuery and jQuery UI.

Additionally, Google is shutting down its CalDAV API to all but a select group of whitelisted developers, effective Sept. 16. "Most developers' use cases are handled well by Google Calendar API, which we recommend using instead," wrote Hölzle

Developers who find that the Calendar API doesn't meet their needs are invited to plead their case to Google and request access to the CalDAV API.

Google Cloud Connect will disappear on April 30. The plug-in was designed to enable users to automatically save Microsoft Office files to Google Drive from Windows PC. Now Google is pushing users to install Google Drive, which according to Hölzle "achieves the same thing more effectively" while working with not only Windows but also Mac, Android, and iOS hardware.

Also on the chopping block: Google Building Maker, designed to let users create 3D building models for Google Earth and Maps. The service will be retired on June 1, after which users will still be able to access and export models from the 3D Warehouse. "We'll continue to expand the availability of comprehensive and accurate new 3D imagery on Google Earth, and people can still use Google Map Maker to add building information such as outlines and heights to Google Maps," according to Hölzle.

Other casualties in this round of spring cleaning include Search API for Shopping, effective Sept. 16. The API was designed to let developers create shopping apps based on Google' Product Search data. Google is killing the API as it shifts it focus to Google Shopping, which represents "a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads."

Google is also ending sales and support of Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows. The company will continue to offer the photo-editing app on iOS and Android.

Finally, Google Voice App for Blackberry will fade away next week. Blackberry users can use the Google Voice HTML5 app as an alternative, according to Hölzle.

This story, "Thousands petition Google not to kill off Reader," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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