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SDK vs API. Any Difference?

Updated: Jan 25

Whether you're developing or improving the functionality of a website, mobile app, or other type of application, you have a number of tools at your disposal to help you connect to other software and provide more seamless user experiences.

An Application Programming Interface (API), for example, is a software-to-software interface. This type of interface provides a safe and standardized means of communication. A software-to-software interface, for example, is an Application Programming Interface (API). This interface type provides a secure and standardized means of communication.

What is an SDK?

An SDK, or Software Development Kit, is a set of software-building tools for a specific platform, like Facebook, or programming language, like Java. This kit includes compilers, runtime environments, documentation, debuggers, and a framework or set of code libraries that are specific to the platform or language. It usually includes an API as well.

SDK stands for “Software Development Kit”, which is a great way to think about it — a kit. Think about putting together a model car or plane. When constructing this model, a whole kit of items is needed, including the kit pieces themselves, the tools needed to put them together, assembly instructions, and so forth.

SDKs are the origination sources for almost every program a modern user would interact with. From the web browser you work on all the way to the video games you play at the end of the day, many were first built with an SDK, even before an API was used to communicate with other applications.

Difference between SDK and API

While both SDKs and APIs are intended to shorten an application's development cycle, they differ in important ways.

An SDK is essentially a toolbox containing everything third-party developers require to create applications for a specific platform or programming language. At least one API is usually included in this toolbox.

An API is an interface that allows different applications to communicate with one another. An API is typically used by developers to extract information or functionality from a specific platform and incorporate it into their own application. So, while an API cannot be used to create a completely new application, it can be used to enhance an existing one.

When to Use API vs. SDK

When deciding whether an API or SDK will best meet your needs, keep in mind that it is not always an either-or situation. In fact, an SDK is frequently packaged with an API.

Suppose you want to create a web application that allows users to log in with their Facebook account information. In this case, you can manually create a login flow, but this requires you to create a storage form when someone logs in, confirm their identity, and so on. To automate most processes, you can use the Facebook JavaScript SDK. This SDK will help you create and implement the loginfunction in your application.

An API is included in the kit. This API allows your application and Facebook to communicate with each other so thatyou can log in. For example, to confirm the identity of users who log into Facebook to log in to your application, their access token must be verified. Thanks to Facebook's API Graph, this verification process is automated,itchecks and indicates who the token was generated for and by which application. Without this API, the login process cannot continue.


Zaida M. Velazco

Design Lead, UX/UI / Web Management

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