In an item related to my post from last week regarding Google and Greasemonkey (which Jon Udell picked up along with others from Bill de H0ra and Dare Obasanjo in an excellent piece here), Christopher Baus noted that there are reports that Google is actively disabling some Greasemonkey scripts and in one case, temporarily suspending access. While my own Gmail account has not been suspended, I can confirm that my Greasemonkey enabled Delete button has mysteriously vanished in approximately the same timeframe, while my Gmail Notifier Firefox extension is unaffected. While Christopher didn’t comment on it, given our exchanges here I’m sure he – along with the majority of other commenters on the original post – are thinking if not writing “I told you so’s.” Though such commentary might be slightly premature, as it seems from the original link that decision was prompted by a rogue overzealous script as opposed to a general aversion to GM, the folks criticizing my expectations that Google might find a way to place nicely with developers will undoubtedly feel validated by the news. Despite today’s news, my original position is mainly unchanged; I think Google had every right to disable an account that was misbehaving (I’m similarly non-supportive of extensions that turn Gmail into a virtual file system), but don’t agree to the takedown on my harmless delete script (assuming, of course, the two events are related). I still think Google needs to think long and hard about their relationships with developers that build on an extend their services, because if they don’t someone else will.
Fortunately, we have today fresh evidence that they are doing just that. The Official Google Maps API seems like an excellent start at providing developers with a predefined and consistent mechanism for accessing one of the cooler services out there. Even better are the little touches; rather than using the standard “non-commercial” terms on the front page, Google says “The Maps API is a free beta service, available for any web site that is free to consumers.” This eliminates some potential ambiguity in determining what is and is not a commercial service.
So the net net: Google get kudos for the Maps announcement, and a TBD on the GM script issue pending further information.