Software Development Kit (SDK)

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Last updated 17 Nov 09:26


Software Development Kit is a set of toolchains that allow a developer to write applications for a given platform or to use a specific framework to do so. SDK has the necessary tools to get the job done. But what you include in your kit toolbox varies from platform to platform.

What Is SDK

A Software Development Kit (SDK) is an organized collection of software development tools that make it easier to create applications for a specific software or hardware platform.

You can also think of it as a wrapper library or framework developed by a service provider that provides an abstraction around the services or capabilities that the platform has or supports.

Source: CleverTap: What is an SDK? Everything You Need to Know

What Is the Difference between SDK and API

There are notable differences between an API and an SDK. An API is an interface to a service that you provide to developers who want to build applications revolving around your product. Developers create APIs to communicate between various applications. You ideally have an API for each service and relevant documentation.

The SDK serves as a structured package that provides an abstraction for the APIs. With SDK, the developer can create applications with APIs that are consistent on a particular platform. An API does not include an SDK. On the other hand, an SDK can contain various APIs.

Why You Might Want SDK

If you want to improve DX around your product, you should consider creating an SDK for devs. With SDK, you provide them with relevant software libraries, technical documentation, code-snippets, specialized application software, such as compilers, interpreters, debuggers, and tools that can be used to build applications.

An SDK is designed to create or extend applications built on a specific platform or programming language. Developers appreciate having a standardized way to interact with your services that they can pick up and reuse.

Problems SDK Helps to Solve

How to Implement SDK

Keep it Simple and Intuitive

Keep the codebase simple and straightforward will allow more users to adopt the SDK. Intuitive method signatures and abstractions help the users in utilizing the SDK effectively.

If a user is familiar with the language and the platform, they should be able to start using the SDK within a short period. Classes and methods accessible to the user should have intuitive parameters relevant to the function they want to perform.

The SDK should follow the standard design patterns for selected platforms and languages. Non-standard patterns and complex abstractions can make it confusing to the user, and they might end up not using the SDK.

Keep it Up-to-date

Use a consistent code style to avoid confusion for future developers and users. You should update your documentation and changelog after every change to the codebase. Use Semantic Versioning to maintain and track releases.

As you add features or remove them, consider cleaning your codebase. Remove deprecated code and address security vulnerabilities regularly. If the SDK has dependencies or prerequisites, update them as well.

Have Good Documentation

Proper documentation of the various parts of the SDK is essential for the users to use the SDK. The documentation should explain the usage of the included libraries, classes, and it could contain sample code to familiarize developers with the SDK. Document all edge cases, and there should be no scope of guesswork on the user's part.

When your SDK uses an API, document, and provide insight into how the API calls work and how your processes run. The documentation should keep all levels of the audience in mind and don't over-use technical jargon.

Make the SDK Accessible

Make your SDK available for users by using an accessible repository for supported languaged, have file storage, or distribution facility in place. The documentation should also be available. If the SDK is open-source, host the source code at places that encourage collaboration and community contribution.

Common Pitfalls of an SDK

  • Missing proper documentation makes tracing bugs and errors difficult for developers
  • Developers don't maintain SDK for each supported functionality or service
  • Desired programming languages are not supported in your SDK
  • Third-party libraries in SDKs can have different permissions
  • There can be licensing issues if the licensing terms for your application and the SDK differ.

Resources for SDK

Sudipto Ghosh

Sudipto Ghosh

CS Undergrad Student

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Prokop Simek
CEO at DX Heroes | DX Engineer ⚙️ | Developer Portals & SDKs 💻