What is the Difference Between an API and an SDK?

What is the Difference Between an API and an SDK

Work area of modern developers is filled with different tools and equipment. SDK and API are probably the most central one. However, the problem is that their understanding and purpose is quite difficult to explain, especially if you are far from IT industry or just partially connected with it.

In this article we will deal with both of these notions and try to give the most comprehensive representation of their importance for developers and what can be done to make the whole process of work more convenient for app makers.

Difference between api and sdk: general review

When somebody talks about API, we can consider it as building blocks of a mysterious game a child plays with. Little baby uses them for joining in different forms and create something new.

SDK can be rendered as a kind of workshop equipped not with blocks, but with the tools for development. The tools give you great freedom, so that you are not limited by existing blocks and can create your own ones or manufacture something without tools at all.

Opposition of sdk vs api can be hardly told reasonable. Coding without any of them brings us back to something like the Stone Age of programming, as you will have to make even the tools for work.

What does API mean?

API(Application Programming Interface) is simply an interface that simply helps one software interact with another one.

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We face it even in our daily life when use hotkeys CTRL+ C and then CTRL+ V. Let’s see how it looks for our computer. Pressing the buttons runs the command to copy the text, then the data is saved in the optical memory in the clipboard. Curious, but API is also used at this moment and later, to transfer information from one application to another. One more API is used when you wish to paste the information and see it at another place.

The situation is a bit different when we talk about online ecosystems. Let’s take such popular mobile ad network as Twitter. There are lots of APIs the platform uses for commenting on, tweets deleting, users’ tracking and so on. To say it simply, it is nothing more but a set of instructions.

It is important to mention that API makes all processes coordinated. First computers can show how it all looked like when there were lots of commands and tons of instructions and their writing and keeping was very poor developed. Appearance of modern APIs allowed organization of coordinated coding in a permanent medium. As a result, replicable functions retrieve the same result each time when the request is transferred with safe and predictability.

What does sdk stand for?

SDK (Software Development Kit), where the word kit seems to be determinative. Let’s remember our childhood when almost every boy was trying to recompose a toy airplane. You may remember the sea of things required for this deal: tools, kits of items, user guide and so on.

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In SDK one may find a big scope of similar useful information: libraries, documents, code examples and all that developers stuff to create applications on certain platform.

To understand what is SDK better, let’s remember our comparison of API with building blocks, SDK is like a whole university that makes process of creation quicker, more convenient and far beyond opportunities offered by API.

Some words to sum up

The notions we are discussing today seem to be too confusing as different methodologies can even offer some other explanations or understanding. To remember it perfectly, mind the following ideas:

  • There are no SDK in API, vice versa – SDK contain API;
  • We use SDK to make apps, in the same manner foundation is used for cottages building;
  • SDK sets the parameters for API interfaces to function, think about phone lines to communicate inside and outside the house, while SDK is the house itself.

Write us if you still feel any difficulties in treating api vs sdk.


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