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What is SDK or Software Development Kit?

f you are into programming or talk and work with programmers, you have probably heard the word “SDK.” If you have ever wondered what is an SDK, then this article is for you.

What is an SDK (Software Development Kit)?

A Software Development Kit, often just called an SDK or devkit, is a collection of tools and information that developers need to create software for a specific platform or language.

An SDK conveniently gathers all the necessary tools and resources in one package that a software developer needs to install before he/she can easily develop software for a target platform.

An SDK is like a plumber’s or electrician’s toolbox that supplies each professional with the correct tools for their job. An electrician’s toolbox holds insulation tape, pliers, multimeter, manual, etc. However, an SDK contains software tools, information resources, and guides instead of physical tools like pliers.

There are a lot of SDKs out there as each system/language/platform creator often publishes their custom SDK for their product.

What is in an SDK?

An SDK can include various items; there is no set standard limit for what an SDK should include. However, most SDKs include the following:

  • Software Tools
  • Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  • Libraries
  • Drivers
  • Relevant Documentation
  • Code Samples
  • Processes
  • Instructional Manuals

What Are SDKs Used For?

An SDK contains various tools and information that simplify the software development process for a targeted platform.

Additionally, an SDK is a great way for a company to build awareness and teach developers about their product. Furthermore, a good SDK encourages developers to adopt their product as a platform to create their own apps.

What Makes a Good SDK?

A good SDK must be:

  1. Lightweight

A good SDK must have the least amount of code needed for the SDK to work. Bloatware or unnecessary functions reduce SDK performance.

  1. Have Great Documentation

An SDK with more thorough and easy to follow documentation is liked more than a similar one with lacking documentation. With great documentation, developers can quickly learn how to use an SDK.

  1. Secure

An SDK that is trustworthy and conforms to legal codes is a must for any developer. A shady SDK might maliciously inject viral or unwanted code into your app. Using untrustworthy SDKs is never recommended as they might breach data privacy laws and land you in legal troubles.

  1. Easy to Use

A good SDK must have understandable documentation and instructions so that other developers can easily use them. An active and reliable developer community or forum around the SDK is a plus.

  1. Customizable

Some SDKs block developers from modifying their source code. This becomes a problem when a company or developer needs to insert custom branding or adjust certain functions into the app.

Types of SDK

Open-Source SDKs

An open-source SDK is free to use and developers can view and modify the SDK’s internal code. Open Source SDKs are highly customizable which sometimes leads to security vulnerabilities and instability.

Proprietary SDKs

Proprietary SDKs require a license to use. It does not allow developers to view or modify the SDK’s code. Proprietary SDKs are usually more stable than customizable SDKs.

Operating System SDKs

To develop software for a specific operating system like Android, you need an SDK that supports software development for that system. For example, to develop Android applications, you use an Android SDK.

Programming Language SDKs

Sometimes, when developers are creating software in a specific language, they need an SDK that fully supports the programming language of their choice.

Hardware Programming SDKs

If you purchase programmable hardware, the manufacturer might include an SDK to enable developers to program the hardware.

What Are SDKs and APIs – SDK vs API?

A lot of Software Development Kits (SDKs) contain Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to work well. On the other hand, APIs can work independently without an SDK.

Sometimes, developers have to choose between using an API or SDK, this is because an API is much smaller and more purpose-oriented than an SDK which might be large and clunky.

APIs let two different software communicate, whereas an SDK is used to build software. An API is a lot like a cake recipe that directs where something goes. While an SDK is similar to a cake mix that comes loaded with all the ingredients pre-mixed and ready for use.

In short, an API is part of an SDK that can sometimes be used independently.

Popular SDKs

Java Development Kit (JDK): is an SDK or software development kit for creating Java applications and applets. The JDK comes preloaded with the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) that allows the java applications to run.

Android SDK: Every new version of Android OS comes with a matching Android SDK. If you want to build Android apps, you need to have an Android SDK.

Windows 10 SDK: Windows 10 SDK is a set of tools, documentation, libraries, etc. used to build Windows apps and software.

What is SDK – Conclusion

To summarize what an SDK is: It is a package of tools, libraries, and knowledge resources you need to install before you can begin developing software.

In android app development, you use different SDKs to help your app perform certain functions and interact with certain hardware. On average, each android application contains over 17 third-party SDKs.



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