API vs SDK and which is better for you?

Discover the difference between them ... Finally!

Making sense of API and SDK

Is it better to use an API or an SDK? The distinction should be obvious, but it isn't. Tech newbies, veteran developers, and everyone in between use the two terms interchangeably.

Fortunately for you, I'm going to make the distinction perfectly clear today. So, if that's what you're looking for, join me as I dissect the SDK vs API debate in such a way that you'll know which to use when by the end.

SDK stands for Software Development Kit and API is for Application Programmable Interface. You probably already knew that, but I promised to be completely transparent. In that vein, let me add this: APIs are the gateways that allow apps to communicate with one another. They're similar to the screen on your smartphone that offers you access to everything on the device. SDKs, on the other hand, are a more comprehensive collection of tools for a platform that may contain an API, documentation, examples, and anything else you'll need to create something. Interfacing with another program and expanding on it is possible with both an API and an SDK.


Handbook vs Folder

Let's take a look at it from a different angle if that wasn't obvious enough. Remember the components of an effective cover letter: a greeting, an opening, a hook, abilities, and a closing. It's a straightforward but effective structure for effective writing. Consider a folder on your computer that contains papers with 10 samples of each of the previously listed categories.

The first is a handbook that explains how to properly compose a cover letter. It's similar to an API. Our job application kit, which consists of a folder containing dozens of documents, is similar to an SDK.

A Good API's Characteristics

  • Intuitive
  • A naming convention for resources and endpoints that is straightforward, consistent, and precise.
  • Minimalistic
  • Clear and straightforward semantics
  • All necessary features are included.

A Good SDK's Characteristics

  • Easy to use and expand upon 
  • Well-defined functionality that is well arranged
  • Documentation of how the code works in its entirety.
  • Compatibility with other software development kits (SDKs)
  • Doesn't use a lot of CPU, battery, or data.

“SDK Is Tooling; API Is Specification.”

Which to use when?

In any software development cycle, design and code implementation choices are critical. That's probably why you're here, looking for solutions on the Internet—which, believe me, you'll find. We'll compare the following aspects to keep things as simple as possible: flexibility, convenience of use, time, integration, and robustness. These will ensure that you have a firm grasp on the fundamentals in order to fully comprehend APIs and SDKs.


An API works in a similar way to a cover letter outline in that it allows for some creativity. Because of its bare-bones nature, you have the freedom to experiment and create highly customized functions to meet your needs. SDKs are inadequate in this aspect, especially since each one must be tailored to a certain language.

Ease of Use

SDKs are meant to make using the platform for which they were created as simple as possible. This is why they cater to a specific market. Kitcod's SDK is available in Python, PHP, Ruby, Java, Node, Go, and.NET, for example. This implies that, unlike a comprehensive API, even teams of developers with average to low platform knowledge may quickly learn to utilize an extensive SDK.

Quick Go-to-Market

As a result of their simplicity of use, SDKs allow for faster development timelines. It may be pretty straightforward to get the ball rolling sooner with components like authentication and security addressed to some extent in the SDK.

SDK vs API Integration

Integrating an SDK is often easier since the platform developer handles all of the grunt work for you. Because the SDK is likely to contain standard coding techniques, this typically implies that the quality of your project code improves. If your application is sensitive to third-party packages and their size, you may still want to use an API.


All SDKs are APIs, but not all APIs are SDKs. As a result, platforms with a SDK are inherently more resilient, simply because the API was developed twice. When it comes to making a decision, this suggests that the SDK is more likely to be reliable because more hours have been invested in it. You won't have to be concerned as much about minor changes that may need regular upgrades or corrections.

Keep in mind that APIs provide more flexibility and customization, whilst SDKs provide a more integrated approach that can help you get started faster and save time and money.

Summing up

An SDK is a collection of APIs that enable you to perform the majority, if not all, of the tasks required to build your application. An SDK may also include other tools for developing on the platform for which it was created. An API, on the other hand, is nothing more than a set of specifications.

There is clearly a connection between APIs and SDKs. However, based on your application's goal, qualities, and use cases, you may prefer one over the other.

Now that you're more aware of the distinctions, I'm confident that you'll make better decisions that will move your project along in the proper path. Keep in mind that APIs provide more flexibility and customization, whilst SDKs provide a more integrated approach that can help you get started faster and save time and money.