SDK vs API: A Detailed Review Of Two Popular Software Solutions


September 28, 2022


March 22nd, 2023

As the world of software development modernizes in an exponential form, two important software development tools that are indispensable are SDK and API. SDK stands for Software Development Kit and API stands for Application Programming Interface.

Implementation of API and SDK is necessary now in all software projects. Constant comparison of SDK vs API is inevitable. They exhibit similar characteristics and hence getting confused in understanding them is natural.

API and SDK enhance the competencies of the software with which you are working. But both have separate use cases and methodologies of working. It is vital to perceive how SDK and API work, their benefits, features, and way of contributing to the application development procedure.

Before we go into details about evaluating SDK vs API, let us understand them individually.

What Is SDK?

A software development kit (SDK) is a collection of software development tools in one installable package. As a set of software building tools, it is a collection of libraries, tools, and programs for creating applications on a specified platform.

SDK empowers developers in creating platform-specific software attached to a particular programming language.

An SDK consists of code libraries, code samples, testing tools, compilers, debuggers, APIs, drivers, network protocols, editors, and documentation. Whenever the developer downloads and installs an SDK, it becomes quite simple to develop using their platform through their IDE (Integrated Development Environment).

All popular technologies have their own SDK. Some common examples of SDK are Google’s Android SDK, Apple’s iOS SDK, AWS SDK, Google Cloud SDK, JSON, JDK, and so on. Each of these is attached to their parent technology and serves the purpose of enhancing the experience of their parent tool.

Key Benefits Of SDK:

  • Competence to use the features in the application
  • Seamless integration with quick development
  • Direct availability of features, parts, and functionalities
  • Reusable components and functions
  • Lessens development time since no need to create functions from the start
  • Effective management of resources and budget
  • Ideal for developers and their comfort level
  • Detailed documentation and support
  • Inbuilt support and proficiency in the written code
  • Controlled development and post-implementation budget

How Does An SDK Work?

One must buy, download, and install the software development kit that suits the requirements and matches the software. After which the API is opened with accompanying development tools for creating a new application, with the IDE.

The main coding portion starts here with the compiler being present. There are different instructions, code samples, and testing tools that will help in creating the needed software application.

What Is An API?

An application programming interface (API) is a way for two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. It is an effective interface that makes communication easier for different platforms, with each other. Some routine APIs that help is mapping APIs, Payment APIs, Scientific APIs, Weather APIs, etc.

It standardizes the approach through which third parties interact with other software components. It empowers comprehensive utilization of services offered by the software applications. An API can decide the functionalities and information that can be shared between services and software.

API consists of two components – the API interface that eases data sharing, communication, and documentation that highlights the information of implementing the API. Some common types of APIs are REST API, Web API, SOAP API, etc.

Good Read: A Comprehensive Guide To APIs – A Rage In Software Development

Benefits Of An API:

  • Quick integration between services and software
  • Enhanced productivity with high-end reusability
  • Effective security mechanisms for platform sharing
  • Lesser costs are involved since no custom development efforts are needed
  • Facilitates distributed architecture
  • Platform independence with any device, platform, service
  • Straightforward analytics and reporting via data obtained through APIs
  • Reducing development routines and resources via automating processes
  • Improved brand recognition and trust
  • Offering effective services with utmost efficacy

How Does An API Work?

An API works to increase effective communication between assorted services and platforms. It acts as an interface by receiving different queries from users, processing them, and returning the results by offering needed information.

The user can initiate the task by creating a request. The API then makes a call to the server, sending the request to the URL of the server. The task is accomplished by the database or application, as needed and it returns with the answer to the request.


API vs SDK: The Similarities

Even though there are certain similarities between the two interconnected and overlapping tools, their target areas and way of working are different.

The similarities are:

  • Shortening the development cycle of an application
  • A method for your package to interface with and regulate resources provided by another software component
  • Indispensable tools in the world of software development
  • Improving the functionalities and performance of your application
  • Integrating key features like security and communications into web and mobile applications
  • Faster time-to-market, easy adoption, saving on time and efforts
  • Offer robustness, detailed documentation, and strong community support
  • Efficient app development

SDK vs API: Difference Between API And SDK

Parameters SDK API
Acronym Software Development Kit Application Programming Interface
Overview A comprehensive software development kit and building block for creating applications for different services, languages, and platforms An effective interface to facilitate the functioning of applications and accelerate the interaction between different platforms defining how apps work together
Objective Offer a variety of development tools required for creating an application for a specified language or platform Offer relevant procedures and explanations for letting components collaborate with each other, connects and integrate software
When to Use While creating a new application or adding multiple functionalities within a package While enhancing an application or adding specified functions to an application
Characteristics Robust, having multiple utilities Specialized, light-weighted, fast
Architecture Executes on the same environment and has no interdependency. Uses the processing power of the existing app environment Executes on separate servers with a continual dependency on the services for reliability and effective processing of applications
Installation Needs installation and hence is bulky in size No installation is needed for using it
Error Handling Manages through the language’s error handling mechanism Manages error handling through the application and its server
Examples Android SDK, Java SDK, Facebook SDK etc. Payment APIs, Map APIs, Weather APIs, etc.
Languages Support Support for languages such as Java, Python, Go, PHP, Node.js, etc. Support for communication protocols such as REST, SOAP, GraphQL, etc.
Included Components Comprises of experiment programs, utility programs, technical descriptions, and debugging tools Comprises of protocols, routines, data structures, and object class specifications to facilitate interaction

Good Read: Microservices vs API: How Do They Differ?

SDK vs API: The Wrap Up

Uplift your applications by using SDK and API. The comparison between API vs SDK continues to date, with users getting confused about what to use and when. As we study the difference between API and SDK, we see that both are important and crucial to software development.

As the development scenarios progress and the cloud-driven services tend to get popular, applications tend to get complex and that is where the role of API and SDK comes into the picture.

It depends upon the requirements of your projects and applications that can help in ascertaining the output of comparing SDK Versus API and what to use. In fact, there could be many projects where they work in coordination with each other and offer optimal results. APIs can be found in SDKs, but SDKs cannot be found in APIs.

Usually, SDKs are like a toolbox containing different elements that developers need and hence they contain APIs but vice versa is not true. Hence, though there is a difference between SDK and API, implementation of the same depends upon the needs of the project and both carry equal weightage in terms of importance.


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