Software development kits have become an essential part of software development. This is because they enable companies to quickly develop apps, for example, and thus respond to a current demand in the market. It is therefore not surprising that a study by mobile measurement and advertising platform Adjust in 2021 found that SDKs are used in over 96 percent of the top apps on the market. Top software development tools include the Facebook SDK, Google Mobile Ads SDK and Google's Firebase SDK.
But how do companies find a suitable software development kit? And what do they have to look out for when using an SDK? We show you the potentials, but also the challenges of the technology and how you can use SDKs step by step to efficiently develop an application.
This article was written in German, automatically translated into other languages and editorially reviewed. We welcome feedback at the end of the article.
Software Development Kit Definition
Software Development Kit simply explained: A Software Development Kit (SDK), also known as a Software Development Management Tool or Software Development Planning Tool, is a set of tools, libraries and documentation that helps developers create software applications for specific platforms, operating systems or frameworks. To do this, an SDK has, among other things, a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers can use to access specific functions or services and integrate them into their apps.
In addition, an SDK often includes compilers, debuggers, and other tools to help develop and test software. It also provides examples, tutorials, and guides to help developers get started with the development environment.
By using an SDK, developers can save time and effort by accessing code and pre-built functionality that has already been created - instead of developing everything from scratch.
SDKs are widely used in various fields, including mobile applications, web development, game development, and IoT (Internet of Things). They are created by enterprises, platform providers, and programmers to promote and support the development of applications on their platforms.
Software Development Kit vs. API
A software development kit and an Application Programming Interface (API) are both tools used in software development. However, they have different functions.
An SDK is a collection of tools, libraries, and documentation that help developers create software applications. It often includes pre-built functions, modules, and examples that facilitate development. An SDK provides programmers with a more comprehensive environment in which to create applications.
An API is an interface that allows applications to communicate with other software components. It defines the methods and protocols that can be used by an application to interact with a particular software or service.
In short, an SDK is a comprehensive application development toolkit, while an API is simply an interface that provides access to specific functions or services.
Components of a Software Development Kit
A software development management tool consists of several components that help developers create applications for a specific platform. Here are the main components of an SDK:
A collection of pre-built code that provides specific functions and features.
A comprehensive Instruction and reference material that helps developers understand and work effectively with the SDK.
Practical examples that show how certain functions of the SDK can be used. Developers can use them as a starting point for their own applications.
Tools and plugins
Various tools such as compilers, debuggers, and build systems that help developers develop, test, and deploy applications.
A software environment that allows developers to test their applications on the development computer without having to access the actual target device.
Application Programming Interfaces provide defined interfaces to access specific functions or services of the SDK. They enable interaction between the application and the SDK.
Types of Software Development Kits
These are the most common types of software development planning tools:
These enable the seamless integration of software components or services into existing applications. They offer ready-made functions and tools to simplify the integration process.
Platform Software Development Kits are specifically designed for developing applications on specific platforms such as mobile devices (e.g. iOS or Android) or web applications. They provide APIs and tools to access platform-specific features and resources.
These provide access to databases and offer data manipulation, query and management functions. They facilitate the integration of databases into applications and provide an interface to interact with the database. Examples of database SDKs include the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) Software Development Kit for Java applications and the Microsoft SQL Server SDK.
Companies use them to interact with specific hardware, such as sensors, printers or cameras. They provide functions and APIs to access the hardware and integrate it into applications.
AI SDKs support the development of applications with artificial intelligence (AI). They offer functions such as machine learning., image recognition or speech processing to integrate AI functions into applications. With an OCR SDK companies can, for example, automatically capture unstructured data from documents.
Konfuzio SDK as integration SDK
The Konfuzio Software Development Kit (SDK) acts as an effective integration SDK that enables the smooth integration of AI-based document processing functions into existing applications.
It provides pre-built features and tools to simplify the process of integrating and customizing AI-based document processing workflows.
In addition, the Konfuzio SDK enables connectivity to Github and Hugging Face, allowing AI engineers and data scientists to refine existing models.
Konfuzio SDK as platform SDK
Although the Konfuzio SDK was not developed specifically for a particular platform such as mobile or web, it can be considered as a platform SDK designed specifically for developing applications in the field of document processing and extraction. It provides APIs and tools for accessing platform-specific functions such as document processing, data extraction and data categorization. By using the Konfuzio SDK, users can develop customized solutions for specific document processing needs.
Konfuzio SDK as database SDK
The Konfuzio SDK can also serve as a database SDK, as it provides functions for accessing and manipulating data from documents. It facilitates the integration of data extraction and manipulation into applications and provides an interface for interacting with the extracted data.
In addition, the Konfuzio SDK supports human interactions in the learning process by implementing technologies for human-in-the-loop learning approaches.
This allows models to be refined and continuously improved by incorporating human expertise and feedback into the training process.
Possible applications of a software development kit
Companies can use SDKs for a wide range of areas:
Platform and operating system development
SDKs enable developers to create applications that run on specific, digital platforms or operating systems. For example, Android and iOS software development kits provide developers with the necessary resources to create mobile apps for these platforms.
SDKs are essential for video game development. They provide special tools for creating graphics, physics simulation, collision detection, and audio processing. Popular game SDKs include, for example, the Unity Engine and the Unreal Engine.
SDKs enable developers to access and use cloud services. These SDKs provide APIs and tools to connect to cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud.
Internet of Things (IoT)
SDKs play an important role in the development of IoT applications. They provide APIs and libraries to connect devices, collect and process data, and create applications for the IoT. A well-known IoT SDK is the Arduino SDK for programming microcontrollers.
Software Development Kit Benefits
Software development planning tools offer a variety of benefits for developers. Here are some of the most important benefits:
An SDK provides developers with pre-built tools, features, and code samples to help them develop applications faster and easier.
With an SDK, developers can create applications for different platforms without having to rewrite the code each time. This saves time and resources.
An SDK often contains special functions and libraries that give developers access to advanced features. This allows them to add functionality to their applications and improve the user experience.
Updates and maintenance
Developers benefit from regular updates and maintenance services provided as part of the SDK. This allows them to keep their applications up to date and fix any bugs or security vulnerabilities.
Documentation and support
An SDK usually comes with detailed documentation and support materials. Developers can use these resources to learn about the SDK's functionality and usage, and to get support when needed.
With an SDK, developers can seamlessly integrate their applications with other software components or third-party services. This improves interoperability and opens up new opportunities for functional enhancements.
Community and ecosystem
Many SDKs have an active developer community and a strong ecosystem. This gives developers the opportunity to share ideas, learn best practices, and network with other software engineers.
Challenges of Software Development Kits
SDKs can bring these challenges and issues:
An SDK can be very complex and requires extensive technical understanding to use it effectively. Developers therefore often need to invest a lot of time to understand the functionality and structure of the SDK.
It is true that SDKs come with detailed documentation. However, some documentation is concise or confusingly worded. Developers need clear instructions, examples, and reference documents to successfully use the SDK. Missing or inaccurate information can lead to frustration and wasted time.
An SDK may be dependent on other libraries or frameworks. It can be difficult to manage these dependencies and ensure that they are compatible with other parts of the application. Conflicts between different versions of dependencies can occur and must be handled.
The SDK needs to be updated regularly to fix bugs, introduce new features, and keep pace with other technologies. However, these updates can cause incompatibilities with older versions and require careful planning and migration.
A poorly optimized SDK can affect the performance of the application. It can cause delays, resource bottlenecks, or undesirable behavior. Developers need to ensure that the SDK is efficient and well aligned with the specific requirements of the application. For example, a 2019 study by Purdue University showed that SDK integration can lead to an increase in mobile app crashes.
A 2020 study by the International Computer Science Institute found that many SDKs collect sensitive information from users without adequately informing them. It is therefore important to review the privacy policies of SDK providers and consider the privacy implications for users.
What makes a good Software Development Kit
A good software development kit brings these components with it:
Clear and comprehensive documentation
A good SDK provides well-structured and easy-to-understand documentation that contains all the necessary information. Developers should be able to quickly and easily find the functions and application examples they need.
The SDK should be easy to integrate into existing software projects. A clear and uniform interface enables developers to use and implement the SDK quickly.
Support for different platforms
A good SDK provides support for different platforms, such as web, mobile, or desktop. Developers should be able to use the SDK for their specific requirements - regardless of which platform they are working on.
Abstraction of complex tasks
The SDK should provide an abstraction layer to make complex tasks easier for developers. By hiding technical details and providing a simple interface, developers can focus on the actual functionality without having to deal with the complexity of the underlying technology.
A good SDK should provide a wide range of functions and tools to cover different use cases. It should enable developers to solve complex tasks efficiently and effectively without having to write additional code.
Regular updates and support
An SDK should be updated regularly to fix bugs, add new features and keep up with the latest technological developments. In addition, good technical support from the SDK provider is important to get help quickly when problems or questions arise.
A compelling SDK should offer good performance to enable fast and responsive applications. It should work efficiently and be resource-efficient to ensure optimal use of available resources.
Flexibility and adaptability
The SDK should be flexible enough to meet the individual requirements of developers. It should offer various configuration options and be extensible to adapt to different projects and applications.
Software Development Management Tools as Open Source
There are a variety of software development management tools available to developers as open source. These include, for example, these:
The Android Software Development Kit enables the development of Android apps. It provides tools, libraries and APIs to access the functions of the Android operating system.
The iOS Software Development Kit enables the development of apps for iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads. It offers a comprehensive collection of tools, frameworks and APIs specifically for the iOS platform.
TensorFlow is an open source deep learning framework. It provides a collection of tools, libraries and resources for the development of AI software and machine learning applications.
OpenCV is an open source computer vision library. It provides an extensive collection of algorithms and functions for image and video processing, object detection and tracking.
Qt is a C++ framework for developing cross-platform applications. It provides tools, libraries, and APIs for developing desktop and mobile applications.
Software Development Tools Guide
To efficiently develop an application with an SDK, you should follow these 10 steps:
- Download SDK
Visit the official website of the SDK provider and download the SDK. Make sure that you choose the right version for your development environment.
- Follow installation instructions
Open the Software Development Kit installation package and follow the instructions of the installation wizard. Make sure that all the required dependencies are installed.
- Configure project
Create a new project in your development environment. Set up the project environment to use the SDK. This may mean that you need to configure paths, dependencies, or compiler options.
- Integrate SDK into the project
Add the SDK to your project. This may vary depending on your development environment. Typically, you need to add the SDK libraries or files to your project and configure the compiler accordingly.
- Study documentation
Read the SDK documentation thoroughly. Learn what features and APIs the SDK provides and how to use them. Understand the concepts and best practices of the SDK.
- Use sample code
Review the SDK sample codes that are usually included. Study these examples to see how the SDK works in action. Experiment with the sample code to get a better understanding.
- Application Development
Use the SDK to develop your application. Call the SDK functions, set the correct parameters, and handle the return values appropriately. Track the SDK logs and error messages to identify and fix problems.
- Error handling
Implement appropriate error handling in your application. Check if the SDK provides error codes or exceptions and catch them to detect and react to error conditions.
- Check updates
Stay up to date on new SDK versions and updates. Regularly check the vendor's website or subscribe to notifications to ensure you learn about important changes or security patches.
- Give feedback
Provide feedback to the SDK vendor about your experience with the SDK. Share bug reports, improvement suggestions or feature enhancements to contribute to the further development of the SDK.
A software development kit (SDK) is a collection of tools, documentation, and code libraries that developers can use to create applications for a specific software platform or hardware environment. SDKs provide pre-built, simple functions and APIs to simplify development and enable interaction with the platform.
Well-known examples of open source software development management tools are the Software Development Kit for Android, for iOS as well as the Django SDK and the TensorFlow SDK. These kits provide developers with a variety of features and tools to create software efficiently and productively. Open source SDKs are a popular choice for developers because they are flexible, customizable, and supported by a dedicated community.
A Windows Software Development Kit is necessary if developers want to efficiently create Windows applications. It includes tools, libraries, documentation, and analysis tools to facilitate development. The SDK provides access to Windows-specific features and enables the creation of applications for multiple platforms, including desktop, mobile, and web. Developers can use the SDK to write code, compile, debug, and optimize applications for the Windows platform.