Much confusion exists around the difference between a software development kit (SDK) and an API. Part of the confusion is that an SDK contains an API. Both tools are the driving force behind implementation of third-party API and web communication. But both tools are different, and they serve different purposes.
Review the following four pieces of information that developers need to know about SDKs.
What Is an SDK?
Image via Flickr by Christiaan Colen
SDK, software development kit, is a tool used to create and develop applications. Think about it in terms of assembling a model airplane. When you buy the kit, you have all the materials you need, such as the assembly pieces and instructions. An SDK is a full-suite software module that provides the tools, code samples, libraries, and guides that developers need. With those tools, developers can create certain software packages, software framework, operating systems, and video game consoles.
Agora, for example, is a real-time communications provider that has a variety of SDKs available to enable one-to-one group voice and video calls, real-time interactions between the host and the audience, and other functions for web and native applications. SDK downloads are also available for interactive gaming.
In the Agora Quick Start Guide, you can download an SDK to get started with the building blocks needed to deliver powerful real-time communications.
How Is an API Different From an SDK?
An API is basically an interface that allows software programs to communicate and interact with each other. An API is not a user interface, but rather a software-to-software interface. User interfaces are items such as your keyboard and menus on the computer. Software-to-software interfaces use codes and languages to communicate with each other and the hardware.
For example, when you use Twitter, you’re using an API to follow other users, make comments, and delete tweets. An SDK usually contain APIs, but APIs don’t contain SDKs. The SDK is the building block, and the API is the language.
Benefits of an SDK
Developers can easily identify a problem and write software as the solution. Developers that surround themselves with the best SDK can become more like innovators in integration. SDKs make life easier for software developers since the developers don’t need to look for compatible tools.
An SDK allows you to have different features in your application, a capability which is especially important in business. Think about what is the core development work for your business. An SDK allows developers to focus on core productivity to develop the best solutions.
For example, if you have a level-two trauma center that has telemedicine, an SDK such as those offered by Agora have tools that support real-time video conferencing and communication.
How to Choose the Best SDK
You can find thousands of SDKs that cover all aspects of development. An SDK should directly support business needs and enable business users to see long-term benefits. You want to choose an SDK that protects your information but also keeps your users’ data secure.
When you have a good SDK, you can ensure a secure and pleasant user experience.