What is the Difference Between an API and an SDK? 

Understanding the difference between an API (Application Programming Interface) and an SDK (Software Development Kit), and knowing when to provide each, is incredibly important for fostering a developer ecosystem. In the modern development landscape, these two tools and the synchronicity between them are the driving force behind web communication and the implementation of third party APIs.Accordingly, it helps to know what exactly we mean when we talk about APIs and SDKs. In this piece, we will attempt to create an inclusive definition of both concepts. We will give an example of each, explain how they interact with one another, and find how an API provider can effectively implement one or both of these tools to improve their offering and end developer usability.Define: APIAn API is simply an interface that allows software to interact with other software. This is part of its name — API, Application Programming Interface — and is core to its functionality. Think of an API as a rosetta stone, a tablet by which two vastly different languages, two different instruction sets, can be translated and transferred for mutual understanding.APIs come in many shapes and sizes. The browser that a reader would likely use to peruse the Nordic APIs website uses a variety of API sets in order to convert user commands into usable functions, request data from servers, render that data into a viewable format for the user, and validate the performance of their requests.Even something as simple as copying and pasting on a computer utilizes an API. Copying text converts a keystroke into a command, data is stored into RAM on the clipboard utilizing an API, the data is then carried from one application to another using that same API, and finally, data is rendered when pasting using yet another API.On the world wide web, the API takes on a slightly different function. Web APIs allow for interaction between disparate systems, often for specific use cases. For instance, when a user interacts on Twitter, they’re utilizing an API to comment, to store their data, to follow a user, to delete tweets, and so forth. Ultimately, a web API is simply a set of instructions, just like the personal computer API, but based in the web space.Perhaps most important is the fact that APIs allow for consistency. In the early years of programming, the computer was a wild west of commands and instructions, loosely coded and rarely documented. With the advent of modern computing, APIs have allowed for consistent coding in stable environments, allowing for replicable functions to be delivered the same every time the request is submitted with reliability and predictability.

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