What is SDK?

A software development kit (SDK) is a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar development platform. 

To put it simply, an SDK is a toolbox that often includes APIs, pieces of code, or other rules for developing software. Companies make their SDKs available to developers in order to help them easily integrate with their services. 

SDK stands for the software development kit. Also known as a devkit, the SDK is a set of software-building tools for a specific platform, including the building blocks, debuggers, and, often, a framework or group of code libraries such as a set of routines specific to an operating system (OS). 

Often, at least one API is also included in the SDK because without the API, applications can’t relay information and work together. 

A typical SDK might include some or all of these resources in its set of tools: 

Compiler: Translates from one programming language to the one in which you will work. 

Code samples: Give a concrete example of an application or web page. 

Code libraries (framework): Provide a shortcut with code sequences that programmers will use repeatedly. 

Testing and analytics tools: Provide insight into how the application or product performs in testing and production environments. 

Documentation: Gives developers instructions they can refer to as they go. 

Debuggers: Help teams spot errors in their code so they can push out code that works as expected. 

SDK Use Cases

SDKs are part and parcel of mobile app development. They have many use cases: 

  • Programming language-specific SDKs like the JSON and Java Developer Kit (JDK) are used to develop programs in those languages in a streamlined, standardized way. 
  • Analytics SDKs from Google and others provide data about user behaviors, paths, and actions. 
  • Monetization SDKs like Google, Facebook, and others make it easy for developers to roll advertising out in their existing apps, with the goal of generating revenue. 

SDK Benefits

  • Access to constituent parts and instructions for software development: A retail SDK, for example, that pulls in all the things you’d want in your app (e.g., favorites, cart, save for later, checkout, etc.). 
  • Faster and smoother integrations: SDKs simplify the standard processes needed and provide ready access to information needed. 
  • Shorter development cycle, getting products deployed and into the market more efficiently: Because an SDK is built to inform, equip and provide shortcuts to development, developers can focus on developing the product they’ve planned. 
  • Built-in support and expertise: No need to search for answers or hire out to augment your team; SDKs come pre-loaded with expertise in the code already written and the support documentation included. 
  • Cost control: All of the above enable you to better adhere to an established budget during development and post-deployment. 

Why SDKs are important?

Without an SDK, a lot of this pre-built functionality would have to be made from scratch. SDKs let you create new tools efficiently and make the process easier for anyone to integrate them as everything is pre-built.