Software Development Kit or as we all refer to it “SDK” is a set of software tools used to create applications by means of a compiler, a debugger or a framework.
What is an SDK?
An SDK is a set of tools usually provided by the manufacturer of a hardware platform, operating system (OS) or programming language.
These tools help in the programming of applications for a particular technological environment. This means the developed SDK applications are predesigned to some operating system, hardware platform, video game console or special package. SDKs are full of resources.
Details About SDKs
An application programming interface (API)
It can be seen as an abstraction of the inner workings of the environment on which we are going to work. It is a set of functions, routines, data structures, classes and variables that allow us to manipulate the platform mechanism without knowing it internally.
An integrated development environment (IDE)
An editor that helps us to easily write the source code of the program. Generally, it also provides a friendly interface for two fundamental applications:
- Debugger: Allows you to test the program at each step of its execution.
- Compiler: This translates the source code into machine language, thus obtaining an executable program.
Example code and other documentation
This gives you a starting point to begin developing applications.
An Environment Emulator
This means that if you develop a mobile application from a desktop computer, it allows you to know and see how the end user would see it.
Why use SDKs?
A useful SDK includes all the elements that a developer might need when creating new applications for the specific product and its ecosystem. Some SDKs also include an example or basic test project so that developers can get started as soon as possible.
A basic SDK typically includes a compiler, debugger and various application programming interfaces (APIs), but may also include other elements:
- Runtime or development environments
- Testing or analysis tools
- Network protocols
- Debuggers or debuggers
- Examples / test projects
Is an SDK the same as an API?
When we talk about an Application Programming Interface better known as an API , we mean an interface that allows software to interact with other software. SDKs often contain an API so things can get tricky here.
Through this “interface”, the various software components interact and are connected. Therefore, using an API allows you to add specific functionalities to the application
making it less cumbersome, faster and customized for a specific purpose.
SDKs & APIs Serve Different Purposes
- The SDK is a set of tools to develop an application
- The API makes it possible for applications to communicate with one another
- An API does not create an application from scratch, but it is an interface for a service,
- An SDK is the toolbox – the components or codes that we use to create the application
It is not a matter of choosing between one or the other because they serve different purposes and complement each other. All this confusion arises because within a software development kit an API already exists. However, within an API, there is not an SDK.
SDK vs API
Most SDKs as mentioned in the previous paragraph include an API to connect new projects or mobile applications at the source text level in the command line.Generally, they also include code samples for developers to have sample programs and libraries when they want to design basic programs.
With these resources, developers can easily begin to optimize and develop complex applications, as well as debug them and add new features as needed.
Remember, some SDKs include documentation on API usage, tutorials, FAQs and sample graphics.
The SDK Reality
A software development kit can be an excellent opportunity for a company to introduce its products to developers and encourage them to create applications with its platform or operating system immediately and in an integrated environment. For this reason, most SDKs can be used free of charge; developers simply download them and start programming.
Some SDKs may include rules or agreements that must be accepted and submitted before using the kit, especially for new products in alpha or beta stage, as well as for software systems with algorithms that are not publicly available (aka – not open source).
They may also be subject to a license agreement so that the software system being developed is not released under a license that is not compatible.
3 Things You Must Consider when choosing the right SDK
1. If the SDK has a proprietary license, it is not compatible with open source software development
2. SDKs that have a general public license (GPL) cannot be used for the development of applications subject to a proprietary license
3. There are some issues to consider when using a Lesser General Public License (LGPL) for projects with code elements subject to a proprietary license
Benefits of SDK
Ease of integration
If you don’t already have an existing application, or already have one, you can easily create an application or add powerful new tools with just a few lines of code. In many cases, you can customize the look and feel to match your brand. All integration points can be flexible. You will be able to fit seamlessly with the existing structure and navigation.
Faster time to market
Nowadays, the pace of innovation is fast. Therefore, time is crucial to launch products on time. Otherwise, a competitor can win the customers earlier.
SDKs can be integrated in a short time. While they can be customized as much as desired (and this can take more time), basic functionality can be available almost immediately. Reduced development time translates into fewer resources spent, and more time for developers to focus on other things.
3 Great SDK examples
Google Analytics SDK
Used for the purpose of collecting data from mobile applications. With the Measurement Protocol, collect data from other digital devices such as ticketing centers or game consoles.
These SDKs let us know which people to deliver your ads to based on actions they have taken, such as viewing a particular product or adding an item to their cart.
The FROGED SDK allows you to easily track the different events that happen on the platform where it is installed, in order to provide you with a better understanding of the user’s behavior. Brands are empowered with this knowledge allowing them to launch personalized auto-messages, emails campaigns and/or product flows based on user interaction with the product. In this instance an SDK can help create meaningful calls to action at every touchpoint of the customer journey solely based on the customer’s needs.
Final Thoughts about SDK and API
An API delivers your application’s request to another software and then returns the response to another application.
A simple example: The API is what enables communication between Google Maps and Uber. Allowing users to see the trip route directly in the Uber app, without Uber having developed the maps.
An SDK can contain everything needed to communicate with other software (i.e. one or more APIs), as well as materials that can be used to build a completely new application ( code libraries, debugging facilities, technical notes, tutorials and documentation).
Consequently, the SDK may contain one or more APIs and more essential utilities. The API is only one part of an SDK. Think of the SDK as a larger “container” for a full range of SDK tools.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to long-term vision of the software itself and how the developer envisions its growth and use. A tricky scenario, but with an SDK perhaps a few more options for scalability down the road.
Want more info on why SDK is important and how you can monetize it? Watch this video