Why Use an SDK Instead of an API?

May 17, 2023

In software development, it’s essential to understand when to use a software development kit (SDK) and application programming interface (API) based on the program’s complexity.

Any software development project has two primary goals – to improve the end-user experience (UX) and the software development cycles. These objectives can only be achieved using the right tools, whether SDK or API. Read along to learn more about the primary differences between SDKs like Android SDK and API and their relevant applications.

Everything About SDK

SDK, aka devkit, comprises a set of essential software-building tools for a particular software platform, including the following:

  • Building blocks
  • Debuggers
  • Framework
  • Code libraries, such as routines

Generally speaking, an SDK comprises the following resources to make the lives of software developers easy:

  • Compiler – It’s responsible for translating one programming language to the one where the user will develop program codes for a software project.
  • Code libraries – The framework offers a shortcut along with the code sequences that programmers can repeatedly call and use
  • Code samples – You can find examples of web pages or applications from code samples.
  • Testing and analytical tools – The programmers can better understand how a digital product or an application will perform during testing.
  • Documentation – The developers can consult the documentation for the instructions.
  • Debuggers – The teams can pinpoint code errors and make them more efficient.

Interestingly, an SDK includes at least one API, as the applications can’t relay information without an API.

Once you know the main components of SDK, let’s briefly overview how an SDK works to build applications faster methodically. The programmers can use the SDK for specific platforms or programming languages like kotlin or swift.

For instance, if you want to create an app and later include maps in it. You can build the added map functionality from scratch; however, it takes more time, budget, and experience.

On the other hand, you can simply use Google’s Map SDK, which automatically handles the map display, user venture response, and access to Google map servers. It means the developers can simplify the entire application development process using a particular platform, whether the operating system is Android or Apple.

Benefits of Using SDK

You can use the SDK to include different software features in your application. One of the most significant advantages of using the SDK is simplifying the standard development processes by offering readily available information, as the developers don’t need to reinvent the wheel and code from scratch.

As a result, the development cycles are relatively shorter, allowing the companies to deliver software products quickly. Also, the programmers don’t need to look for the answers because of built-in support. Finally, the companies can remain within the budget using the readily available SDKs.

Google Android SDKs, Microsoft .NET SDKs, OpenAI SDKs, and Amazon Web services are the most commonly used SDKs globally.

Understanding API

As the name suggests, an API is essentially a software-to-software interface that is usually secure. The primary purpose of an API is to offer a standardized interface so different software applications can talk to one another and exchange functionality and information without any human interaction.

In simple words, the API is an agreement in which the two parties or platforms communicate and exchange essential information. AN API comprises the following two components:

  • Interface – You can use a separate interface or access it from the keyword using web API.
  • Technical documentation and specification – You can use the information to integrate the API for effective use.

Some of the most popular APIs are web APIs for web services and browsers, SOAP APIs for security, Open APIs, JSON-RPC, and other custom APIs.

The programmers use APIs for seamless integration between different applications. For instance, if you currently have a real estate application and you want to integrate a search to lookup for addresses in the real estate inventory.

In such a case, you can use a geolocation API to integrate a particular area’s real estate inventory, allowing the two different applications to talk to one another.

Benefits of API

An API effectively improves the end-user experience by connecting and integrating two application features so they can exchange information. Similar to SDK, API also shortens the development cycle thanks to automation. Other benefits of APIs include easy analytics, better productivity, and distributed architectures for internal communication.

Software companies can improve their brand name by offering and integrating new services to meet the end-user demand. The most commonly used APIs are Google Maps APIs, OpenWeatherMap APIs, OpenStreetMap APIs, and Open Science Framework APIs.

Challenges Using SDK and API

The software developers leverage APIs and SDKs to improve the software development cycle. Both of them make the software project cost-effective and easier without requiring human resources.

On the other hand, certain challenges are associated with using APIs and SDKs, such as security breaches. It’s because patchwork software development can lead to loopholes that can go unnoticed, leading to data breaches and exposure of confidential information of the users and customers.

Besides cyber security, another challenge is frequent updates. The technology is updated on a daily basis; hence, the SDKs and APIs have frequent updates. As a result of the updates, synchronization becomes an issue while using the SDKs and APIs.

Final Thoughts

As companies move towards an Agile mindset, whether you are a software developer, a product owner, or a project manager, you should know when to use an SDK instead of an API and vice versa.

An API offers an application interface, while the SDK provides a complete development kit. This way, the API defines how apps talk and work together, while the SDK offers a complete in-house solution to build apps.

The excellent news is that the SDK contains different APIs as a part of the kit. On the other hand, you can’t use an API to build an altogether new application. Using an SDK is wise since it’s a complete kit to create new applications and software.



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