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Software Development Kit - What is SDK?

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Team Storyly
May 22, 2023
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What is SDK?

SDK stands for Software Development Kit. It is a collection of tools, libraries, and documentation that software developers use to create software applications for a particular platform or operating system.

Why are SDKs important?

SDKs are important because they allow app developers to create complex, multifunctional apps that meet the needs and expectations of their audience without wasting time and effort developing aspects of the app’s function from scratch. 

For example, if an app would benefit from mapping capability, its creators may choose to utilize an SDK from a third party to enable mapping on their app so that their developers can focus on developing the features that provide the unique value of the app.

JDK vs. SDK

JDK stands for Java Development Kit, which is a specific type of SDK designed specifically for developing Java applications. The JDK includes the tools necessary to compile, debug, and run Java code, as well as libraries and APIs specific to the Java language. So, the JDK is a subset of the larger concept of SDK, which can encompass a broader range of development tools and resources beyond just Java. In other words, all JDKs are SDKs, but not all SDKs are JDKs.

What Does an SDK Contain?

SDKs should contain interfaces to connect software and also the tools needed in the development process. These components are:

  • APIs (application programming interfaces)
  • Documentation
  • Editors
  • Libraries
  • Run-times and development environments
  • Compilers
  • Debuggers
  • Drivers
  • Network protocols
  • Examples and test projects

All these are very important for an SDK to have useful features. However, it will be more than enough to examine two of the most confusing components for the sake of providing a general understanding.

What are advantages of using an SDK?

Using an SDK can provide several advantages to software developers, such as:

  1. Efficiency: An SDK can provide pre-written code and libraries that can save developers time and effort in building an application from scratch.
  2. Consistency: An SDK can provide a standard set of tools and resources that ensure consistency across different applications and platforms.
  3. Compatibility: An SDK can be designed specifically for a particular operating system or platform, ensuring compatibility with that system.
  4. Support: An SDK often comes with documentation and support resources, making it easier for developers to troubleshoot issues and get help when needed.
  5. Functionality: An SDK can provide access to additional functionality, such as APIs or debugging tools, that can enhance the capabilities of an application.

Difference between SDK and API

A SDK is a complete software development kit that includes tools, libraries, and documentation for building applications, whereas an API is a part of an SDK that defines how software components should interact with each other.

For example, if an app developer needs to include to include payments as a function within the app, they may utilize an SDK to enable the collection of credit card information. An API may also be employed to help the app communicate with third-party payment services such as PayPal, and is likely already included in the SDK. (An SDK may include an API but an API will never include an SDK.)

What is SDK Integration?

SDK integration refers to the process of embedding a Software Development Kit into an application, enabling the app to use the services, features, and functionalities provided by the SDK. Integration is typically done by adding code, usually in the form of pre-compiled libraries or APIs, into the codebase of your software application. The SDK acts as a bridge between the application and the services it aims to utilize, whether it's analytics, payment gateways, social media sharing capabilities, or more.

The Importance of SDK Integration

The ease of integration often serves as one of the primary considerations when choosing an SDK. This is because integrating an SDK can significantly speed up development time, saving both money and effort. It allows developers to access pre-built functions, which may be intricate and time-consuming to develop from scratch.

Common Steps for SDK Integration

  1. Download and Install: The first step is usually downloading the SDK package and installing it in your development environment.
  2. Read the Documentation: This is crucial. Understanding the documentation will give you insights into how to properly integrate the SDK into your application.
  3. Initialization: Some SDKs require initial setup, like setting API keys or initializing some services, before they can be used.
  4. Coding: This involves importing the SDK’s libraries and writing code to utilize the features you need.
  5. Testing: Once integrated, thorough testing is essential to ensure that the SDK performs as expected without causing any conflicts or issues.
  6. Deployment: After successful testing, the next step is deploying your application with the integrated SDK.

Considerations for SDK Integration

  • Compatibility: Make sure the SDK is compatible with your application's programming language and architecture.
  • Performance: Keep an eye out for how the SDK impacts the performance of your application.
  • Security: Security is paramount. Always ensure that the SDK comes from a reputable source and does not introduce vulnerabilities into your application.
  • Maintainability: Ensure that the SDK is actively maintained and updated by its developers. An outdated SDK can become a liability.

Is Integrating an SDK Good for Your App?

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Apart from the value that comes from the core functionality that an SDK provides, it is also important how an SDK brings that value. In other words, integrating an SDK into your mobile app should not constitute a risk for the overall operation of the app.

In order to guarantee the credibility and value of an SDK for your app, there are several points that you can check beforehand.

  • Integration: The integration process of an SDK to an app should be painless to the app developers.  
  • Documentation: An SDK should include clear documentation of codes and sample examples to help developers.
  • Uniformity: An SDK’s features and methods should be uniform to work on different platforms. Having such consistency would help developers use the SDK on cross platforms.
  • Use of Resources: Obviously, the SDK shouldn’t affect your app’s performance negatively. Maximum functionality and minimum resource usage should be ideal for an SDK. The integration might cause a drained battery if the efficiency is not ensured because of intensive background processing or unnecessary network polls deriving from large network usage and huge size.
  • Transparency: An SDK should be transparent to your users with what it is doing and also with permissions.
  • Updates: SDKs should be compatible with the latest OS versions and architectures by bearing in mind the older versions. When new features are added, they should be explained to the users.
  • Security: SDKs can be unsafe since they run different codes than your apps’. It is possible for malicious SDKs to violate user rights, and harm your app’s performance and cause your app to get banned from application stores.
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Meet a Lightweight SDK: Storyly

Storyly is an SDK helping mobile apps maximize their in-app engagement and grow their businesses by simply integrating stories into the mobile apps.

It is lightweight and intuitive. Developers can integrate the SDK into their mobile apps instantly and with no coding on their side. In addition to practicality, clear documentation and dedicated customer success service guide the process.

Check out the advanced features that Storyly SDK can bring to your app. You can always contact us in case of further questions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Team Storyly

Group of experts from Storyly's team who writes about their proficiency.