Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between API and SDK


Both Application Programming Interface (API) and Software Development Kit (SDK) play an important role in the software development process. As the name suggests, API acts as an interface among different applications or platforms and helps different software programs to interact with each other. An API generally consists of specifications that can be used to interface between different software programs. On the other hand, SDK, also known as devkit, consists of a set of development tools and prewritten codes that can be used by the developers to develop applications. SDKs generally help to reduce the amount of effort and time needed by the developers to write their own unique code to develop software applications.

API may contain specifications for routines, data structures, protocols, and object classes in order to facilitate interaction between different programs. SDKs usually consists of API in the form of files or complex hardware in order to facilitate interaction with an embedded system.. An SDK often helps to eliminate duplication of work and saves a developer’s time in creating new software applications. The API often includes a set of rules and specifications to be followed by the software programs to facilitate easy interaction. API does not include any written sample codes instead includes a detailed description of the behavior of function calls and function prototypes. SDK includes sample programs, technical notes, utilities, and debugging tools for the programmer to incorporate in developing applications thereby saving a lot of time and effort.

An API may contain a description as to how exactly a particular task can be performed. It may contain a description of function calls or function prototypes providing details about the number and type of parameters to be passed to the functions and the type of value which is returned. Depending on the area in which the API is used, it can be developed as a generic API containing a complete set packaged in the library of a programming language such as a standard template library in C or C++, or can be built as a specific API for a particular type of problem such as Java API for XML web services. Sometimes SDKs are created with attached licenses with an intention of making them incompatible with other software. Most of the SDKs are available for download via the Internet for free. Some of the SDK providers simply interchange the term “software” with a specific term. For example, Microsoft Corporation and Apple, Inc. offer a driver development kit for developing device drivers instead of a Software Development Kit.


1. API includes only specifications and descriptions about the functions whereas an SDK

includes APIs, sample code, technical documentation, tools, and utilities.

2. API serves as an interface for different applications to communicate with each other

whereas an SDK provides a set of tools and utilities needed in developing a software


3. API provides descriptions of the parameter types to be supplied to functions and their

return value types whereas SDK includes libraries that can be used to develop

software applications.

4. The APIs often includes descriptions of class definitions and the behavior of those classes. The SDK includes documentation of the API as well as sample programs and tools.

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