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Fuel Cycle Blog: What does SDK mean?

What does SDK mean?

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If you’ve ever brushed elbows with the world of digital platforms, then you may have heard of the acronym SDK. If you’re a web developer, you probably know all about it. But if you’re a market researcher and are just vaguely familiar with it, this your Intro to SDKs class or SDKs 101. 

SDK goes hand in hand with market research. We’ll dive into what it stands for, how they work, and when they’re used to you have a better understanding of where they may fit into your research activities.

What Is An SDK?

Have you ever heard someone used an acronym and had no idea what the heck they were talking about but felt like you should? That’s not at all the case with SDKs. Only someone well-rehearsed in the creation and development of software apps would know.

SDK (also commonly referred to as a devkit) stands for Software Development Kit.

TechTerms, an online dictionary for computer and technical terms, defines SDKs as “a collection of software used for developing applications for a specific device or operating system […] SDKs typically include an integrated development environment (IDE), which serves as the central programming interface.”

Essentially, it is a collection or suite of various software development tools and resources that can be used to build, program, and develop software applications. 

How Do SDKs Work?

SDKs are self-contained toolkits that provide developers with sample code that aids them in learning how to build basic, and then more complex applications. A typical SDK will contain technical documentation (tutorials and FAQs) or sample graphics (buttons and icons) that developers can use when building the application.

In a nutshell, they offer a developer the resources and bare-bones they need to get started building a software application.

Why Use an SDK

SDKs are incredibly helpful for developers, as they provide them with a wide spectrum of useful tools to help them create ideal user experiences of an app. Because apps tend to have similar features and functions, an SDK will contain most of that code already. 

In today’s digital climate, most companies have developed some sort of app to offer their target audience. While their apps may have varying functions depending on brands, services, etc., they tend to have similar goals in mind when it comes to converting users to customers, creating leads, or simply enhancing a user’s digital experience. Because of this, they’ll provide complimentary SDKs to developers, often downloadable from the company website, that act as a standardized foundation for the development of every new app they unveil.

A market research SDK allows companies to build a market research experience using their pre-packages research tools. You can build campaigns and leverage their different features all through your own user interface.

What Is an API?

Knowing the difference between an SDK and an API is important because an SDK can be completely integrated into your digital property for a more consistent user experience.

API stands for “Application Programming Interface. TechTerms defines it as “a set of commands, functions, protocols, and objects that programmers can use to create software or interact with an external system. It provides developers with standard commands for performing common operations so they do not have to write the code from scratch. APIs are available for both desktop and mobile operating systems.”

In a nutshell, an API is an interface with communication protocols that allow software to communicate effectively with other software. 

SDK Vs. API: What’s The Difference?

While they tend to go hand-in-hand, SDKs and APIs have differing functions.

If an SDK is the application software itself housing everything needed for developers to build the app, APIs are simply the communication channels between that software and others. An SDK, typically, will have API hooks, but APIs cannot be used to create any sort of new software. They’re simply communication channels. 

Let’s look at a simple example. Have you ever logged in to an app and had the option to do so using your Facebook or Google Account? An API is what was used to communicate with Facebook or Google login functions. If the app is the end state of the SDK, the API is the phone line between them.

Bottom Line

Because market researchers are consistently looking for data that will move them closer to their target objectives, it is especially important that they know what development tools and research technology will best benefit their work.

Both SDKs and APIs have their place in your digital properties, but knowing the difference can help you better understand how well your market research technology will function to appease the end-user: your customer.

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