What is a Software Development Kit (SDK)? A Complete Guide

  • Don’t have the time to develop every new functionality from scratch?
  • Want to significantly reduce the software development timeline and the costs needed to maintain and update your code?
  • Want to develop a custom app and create a truly personalized user experience?
  • Want to make sure your app is robust with no errors or bugs?

If yes, this blog is for you.

A software developer is constantly struggling to balance quality and timelines. The software development kit can help meet tight deadlines while maintaining quality and offering greater agility. According to Global Newswire, the software development tools market size is set to reach $9.9 billion by 2027.

Read on if you want to learn about

  • What is a software development kit?
  • What does an SDK include?
  • What problem does the SDK solve?
  • Why do developers need an SDK?

Let’s get started.

What is an SDK?

A software development kit is a toolkit that comprises different software development tools that can help developers build a software solution.

An SDK includes documentation, a compiler, a debugger, development aids, and a software framework for the specific hardware, operating system, or programming language. It is a one-installable package offering hardware-level access to the users.

The SDK is the building block for software applications, from gaming to healthcare. These include web and mobile software development toolkits. Some popular SDKS include Java SDK, Android SDK, and Windows 10 SDK.

For instance, the SDK for Java Platform will also give you access to controllers and sensors so that they function well when on the system.

How Does an SDK Work?

As discussed, the software development kit provides tools to help create apps and software programs faster and more standardized.

The SDK for enterprise software development will differ from the one used for app development. It provides a simplified environment in software development for the developers to carry out their tasks with minimal external interference.

Here is how the SDK works:

  • You need to purchase the kit. Next, download and install the kit to the operating systems or hardware.
  • Start the tool and use the code or the API to build software solutions. The SDK also includes the integrated development environment needed for application development. Using the coding and compiler tools, you can create applications in a controlled environment.
  • Lastly, use the documentation provided along with the testing tools to debug, test, and launch a healthy, error-free, and quality software app.

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What Does an SDK Include?

As mentioned earlier, the SDK is a devkit that helps developers build software. This kit can test and deploy them, too, using the SDK. It comprises all the tools needed to develop software programs, conduct basic test projects and access the hardware platform to enhance usability. An SDK includes the following resources for the specific platform or language.

  1. Extensive Documentation: This is to provide the software developers with instructions on how they can use the SDK to build applications.
  2. Code Samples: Offer examples of other applications and web pages to help the developers with coding.
  3. Libraries: Access to pre-built codes that can accelerate development and enhance the productivity of the developers.
  4. Compiler: Most SDKs offer this tool that allows you to translate the software application from another programming language to the one you are currently working on.
  5. Testing Tools: Helps debug the software app in testing and production environments.
  6. Debuggers: The debugging facilities ensure that the application launched is free of bugs and errors.

The SDK might also include an API that helps relay information and improve collaboration.

Let’s be good at the characteristics of a good SDK.

  • The developers can easily learn and use it.
  • An SDK helps you with the documentation needed to understand how it works.
  • Offers the functionality required to build value.
  • Integrates and works with other SDKs.

Let’s even understand what problems the SDK solves.

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What Problem Does the SDK Solve?

Being a leading software development company in Canada, we have identified some of the problems that SDK helps to solve. Here are some of the problems:

  • SDK helps access low-level APIs that aren’t available elsewhere or cannot be accessed otherwise.
  • You can easily port the game or application from another operating system to the current one.
  • SDK helps fix errors at the early stage so that you don’t delay the app testing or deployment.
  • SDK launches high-quality applications thus mitigating risks.

Now let’s further understand the reasons to use SDK for your software development.

4 Reasons to Use SDK for Software Development

It is hard to carry out normal procedures and accelerate development without SDKs. The pre-built codes, parts of the app, and instructions can help accelerate several aspects of development.

  1. Faster Integration to Improve Business Process

    Integrating with existing apps that end users use or the tech stack is easier with the devkit. This integration shortens the development cycle and accelerates business processes.

    For example, integrating an SDK with your customer’s existing tech stack for sales and marketing can efficiently reduce the sales cycle.

  2. Provides Interoperability for Better Reach

    An excellent SDK offers interoperability. They can easily integrate with other products and make way for collaboration between the different products. This can improve the reach and visibility of your solution, which in turn improves conversions.

  3. Transparency Throughout Development

    Most of the SDKs are openly available. Therefore, you gain full insights into the code and identify any wanted or unwanted behavior. By providing an open and collaborative environment to the developers, they are able to fix any bugs quickly and efficiently to ensure a smooth and trouble-free ad experience.

  4. Accelerated Development

    The SDK offers all the tools to develop the software application. developers simply don’t have the time to develop every new functionality. With SDK, the developers can integrate precoded features efficiently reducing the time-to-market. As a result, you can push the code faster and deploy the new applications earlier into the market.

    Since you have understood the reasons to use SDK, let’s understand the important SDKs that every developer needs to use for software development.

3 Important SDKs Every Developer Must Use

Below table describes the crucial SDK that developers can use during software development.

SDK NameDescriptionUse Case
Facebook LoginHelps grant permissions to users to use their Facebook account to log inUsed for social sign-up for a particular application
XamarinTools for mobile app development for all platformsCross-platform app development and testing
UnityReady to use tools and services for game app developmentUseful for 2D and 3D game app development.

Here, you may think about using an API for software development. Let’s check how an SDK is different from an API.

What is the Difference Between an SDK and an API?

Software Development Kit (SDK)Application Programming Interface (API)
SDK is a set of all the software tools, components, parts, and software development frameworks that help the developer create an application.API connects two different platforms for easy communication and data exchange. The developers can access the proprietary apps of the API to use the services they provide.
This is used to build an entire application.The APIs are a subset of the SDK used to integrate features/functionality.
For example, by using the Java devkit, you can build Java apps faster. You already have the code and template. Put them together and sprinkle your special code to personalize it.APIs that are more functionality oriented. For example, the Freshworks marketing API can integrate with your app to share detailed analytics reports and recommendations. This will save your marketing team a lot of their time.
This helps develop a feature that the app owns.This introduces a feature from a third-party application into your app. They can only communicate; it will not be a part of your application.
Multiple APIs are present in the application that can be used to access certain functionality.APIs have software with a proprietary license that is accessed by third-party apps to include the feature. The functionality will not work in the particular system if it is an incompatible license.

Let’s further understand the types of SDK that you can use on various platforms.

6 Types SDKs to Use for Various Platforms

SDK NameDescription of the SDK
Android NDK
  • Developed by Google, it is written in C and C++ programming languages.
  • It uses the Clang compiler and can access native libraries using Java code with Android Runtime.
iOS SDK
  • Developed by Apple, it includes Apple’s IDE that helps build unique apps for desktops, iPhones, and iPads.
  • You can write applications in both Swift and Objective-C using this SDK.
Java Development Kit
  • It implements JLS (Java Language Specification) and JVM (Java Virtual Machine)along with Standard Edition and API to improve Java app development.
  • Few tools include Appletviewer, Java, Java, etc.
Microsoft Windows SDK
  • Developed by Microsoft, it is complete with libraries, header files, and documentation.
  • It helps build apps for Windows and .Net framework
Xbox Development Kit
  • Developed by Microsoft, this kit supports game app development extensively.
  • This SDK can integrate with Microsoft Visual Studio 2002 and 2003.
Java Web Services Development Pack
  • Open source software devkit to build web applications and services.
  • Components and APIs allow you to build Java-specific applications that are interoperable.

Still have queries about software development kits. Get all your answers to frequently asked questions.

FAQ About Software Development Kit

  1. What are the different examples of software development kits?

    The Java development kit, macOS SDK, and Windows 7 SDK are a few examples of software development kits.

  2. What is the main difference between an API and an SDK?

    The SDK comprises tools and components that can help developers create applications. The API comprises functions connecting with third-party applications using the license agreement. API facilitates communication between apps, while SDK facilitates development.

  3. What are the tips for using an SDK for development?

    • Determine the SDK after outlining the purpose of the application
    • Check how dependent your app development is on SDK
    • Ensure the security within the SDK is high for tight development
    • The SDK output should depend on the UX design and not the other way around
    • Ensure to read the documentation before proceeding.

Choose the Right SDK for Your Software Development

We discussed the importance of SDK in this article. From understanding the SDK and defining the difference between API and SDK, we identified how the toolkits play a pivotal role in development.

Whether you want to add graphical elements or features like push notifications, you don’t need to develop the code from scratch. As a result, you can launch the apps faster into the market.

If you want to leverage the brilliance of SDKs, you need a partner with a vision. Space-O Technologies has been developing key software solutions with SDKs. Connect with our team for quality development and faster deployment.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.