Have you ever thought about the number one leverage of coding? Interestingly, this most precious edge is primarily invisible. Our regular usage hides this edge from us. Here, we will first discuss the concept of code leverage. Then we will answer many questions like an SDK, its purpose, API vs. SDK, the Windows software development kit, etc.
Moreover, we will see how modern tools like Delphi, C++ Builder, and RAD Studio make life easier. These tools handle many intricacies of setting up different SDKs. If you are into Windows development, you will find this information handier. But these concepts are also helpful on other platforms.
Table of Contents
What is a code leverage?
Surely, each of us wants an easier and successful life, especially when it comes to our work. Leverage can be a boon when striving for success when there is a resource shortage and competition is vigorous. There can be many types of leverage, like leverage of labor, exposure, money, but coding leverage excites me the most.
Just imagine for a moment taking several years to code a solution which finds traction among an army of developers. And then someone emerges who provides all that functionality to other coders for free (or monetized in a way you can’t match) through some form of APIs or code reuse techniques. Compare it with writing as an author. You can not write a 1000-page novel by copying 990 pages written by someone else. Even if it is permissible, no one will be interested in it because it is not offering any additional benefit.
On the other hand, coding is often standing on the shoulders of giants in a form of legal plagiarism if you legally use the available free code of others to solve a problem or add functionality. Then, combined with your own uniqueness and work it emerges again as your product. This kind of code reuse is the number one leverage of software development. It’s not always the final solution which is the pivotal element but the means to get to that point, the bricks and mortar of the house, not the finished home.
One of the many ways we reuse code, the metaphorical bricks and mortar, is the concept of a software development kit (SDK). Just like using good quality bricks and well-mixed cement RAD Studio with Delphi and Windows SDK can be the foundations of your success when you’re looking for the best IDE tools for Windows 10 and beyond.
What is a software development kit (SDK)?
A software developer needs many tools to develop an application. An SDK is a collection of such tools. For example, an SDK may include a compiler, debugger, framework, and software libraries. It also often contains documentation and sample code to guide the proper usage of the SDK and manage expectations for its capabilities. Also, an SDK generally targets specific hardware capabilities and operating systems.
Many SDKs are available for very specific platforms. For example, developers might use the Java Development Kit (JDK) for JAVA development. People wanting to work with Apple devices use the iOS SDK for iOS development. For Android development, we need an Android SDK. We also use Windows SDK for Windows development. SDKs might have license limitations. These limits dictate how a developer can use them. Also, SDKs have different versions. These versions often have limited backward compatibility. Thus, to use new features of a platform, you may need a more recent SDK. Also, there’s no precise definition of an SDK and for some the exact elements might vary.
Why do we need an SDK?
Although it is possible to develop some software without using an SDK, it is neither easy nor economical. Using an SDK makes our job as a programmer much more effortless since it typically reduces the work to interface with the operating system or hardware supported by the SDK. It also often brings to the table benefits of large amounts of research and best practices commonly with the benefit of very specific information from a hardware or software vendor which might not be readily accessible elsewhere. Using the SDK can help ensure our application behaves according to user expectations.
Generally with a platform-specific SDK for developing applications to work with that platform it’s an easier path to a working application. Creating software without an SDK for some systems is challenging, if not impossible, especially for heavily vertical single-vendor hardware solutions such as an iPhone.
What is the difference between a library and an SDK?
A library in the context of software development is a collection of reusable code you can call in your application. Chunks of code in a library are usually closely related to one another. For example a math function library. You can use this library instead of writing your own math functions. An SDK contains many libraries, among other things.
What is the difference between an API and SDK?
Although often confused, an API and an SDK are two different things. They are overlapped and interrelated but quite different in other ways. The term API stands for an Application Programming Interface. An API allows communication between two applications or software systems. Thus an API is an interface that provides service to other software. Thus:
- An API is usually a subset of an SDK.
- An SDK contains not only many APIs but also includes several other tools.
- An SDK may have many APIs, but an API cannot incorporate SDK.
- An API lays out in code definitions of how something should happen and the parameters and methods available.
- The SDK typically enables and facilitates the APIs to be accessible and function (in a general sense).
- APIs operate on a request and response model from one app or subsystem to another.
- API allows communication between apps, and SDK allows building apps.
- Not all APIs have an SDK companion.
What is the difference between an SDK, and a framework?
Sometimes there is a clear boundary between an SDK and a Framework. Other times it is a gray area. Many times they are used interchangeably, like .NET Framework SDK. Though both complement each other, there are essential differences that mostly hold. For example:
- An SDK is needed for application developers only, and application users do not directly need it.
- A Framework becomes part of the application. It is there to make the job of software developer easier.
- An SDK typically targets a particular OS/CPU type. A Framework can be multiplatform. For example, FireMonkey is a cross-platform framework for developing native applications.
- A Framework is like a prebuilt template of a software solution or capability.
- We solve problems at a more abstract and general level in a Framework than we do in an SDK or even an API.
- A Framework can make code reuse possible or more manageable.
- Some Frameworks might have a runtime component that should be present on the application user’s machine.
We can compare an application with a house. For example, a library will be a chair in a bedroom. We can build a chair ourselves. But buying a chair is better. An SDK will be a furniture set with assembling instructions. Finally, a Framework will be the structure of the whole house. Thus all three are closely related but differ in scope.
What is the Windows software development kit?
The Windows Software Development Kit or Windows SDK is a set of software development tools for Microsoft Windows. Currently, it is the most popular option to develop Windows apps. Windows SDK helps developers to create software solutions for the Windows platform. Windows SDK contains tools like command-line Windows compilers, debugging and performance testing tools, libraries, documentation, APIs, and samples.
Is there a brief history of the Windows Software Development Kit?
There are a lot of different versions of things which get called Windows Software Development Kit and it can be quite hard to unwind all of them especially since they tend to carry quite similar sounding names and offer functionality which crosses the boundaries of one another. Let’s try to unravel some of them for you!
What is the Microsoft Foundation Class library (MFC)?
MFC was the first UI library released in 1992. MFC wrapped the Component Object Model (COM) and Win32 APIs. It was a great success and many developers still regularly use it. Despite this MFC is not suitable for modern applications because it is popularly considered outdated and does not support modern hardware features such as touch input and HD displays.
What is the Microsoft Platform SDK?
The Microsoft Platform SDK contains documentation, header files, libraries, samples, and tools required to develop applications for Microsoft Windows. Platform SDK specialized in supporting development of applications for Windows 2000, XP, and Windows Server 2003.
What is the Microsoft Dot Net SDK?
The Windows SDK also includes .NET SDK to produce .NET applications. .NET Framework implements a Common Language Infrastructure (CLI). With CLI, developers can use many languages to develop applications. It also provides an extensive Framework Class Library (FCL) to make the job easier. .NET applications run on a virtual machine called Common Language Runtime (CLR). CLR provides security, memory management, and exception handling services. CLR makes the job of a developer more accessible.
However, this approach has two drawbacks. Firstly, the size of a .NET application (plus runtime support) can be enormous when compared to a native application. Secondly, the performance and execution speed of a .NET application is frequently less optimal than a native application. Fortunately, the Delphi VCL and FireMonkey frameworks provide the best of both worlds. You can write in your applications in the easy to learn and super-fast-to-compile Delphi or the equally powerful C++ languages. The rapid optimizing compiler then produces native applications which harness the full power of the Windows APs and libraries. These features make RAD Studio with Delphi the best Windows apps studio.
What is the Windows Software Development Kit?
The Windows Software Development Kit is currently the most popular SDK version. It contains many Windows tools for developers. It supports Windows program development for Windows XP and up to Windows 10. That means it supports Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. The current stable version release date is May 12, 2020. It also supports DOT NET framework 3.0 and up.
What Is next for the Windows SDK?
Microsoft have announced the Windows App SDK which is the next Windows SDK. Previously its name was Project Reunion. It supports Windows 10 app development (Version 1809 and up) and Windows 11. Released in November 2021, it is a relatively new entrant. It is an evolving project. It will take some time to catch on. If you don’t need the latest features of Windows App SDK, you can probably stick with the Windows Software Development Kit for several years to come.
How does Delphi help you manage SDKs?
You will need different SDKs for deploying to various operating system platforms. Also, you will need different versions of an SDK for some app development projects. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to manually install and manage support for them. Fortunately, Delphi Windows IDE has a specific tool called Delphi SDK Manager. With this tool, you can manage all of the needed platform SDKs in one place. For example, you can manage macOS, iOS, and Android SDKs.
Why is Delphi the best companion for the Windows SDK?
Delphi was always at the forefront of rapid application development for Windows. It was the one of the first Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools yet it continues to actively evolve and embrace new development techniques, Windows SDK improvements, new platforms and multi-device targets. RAD Studio with Delphi helps programmers to develop applications fast. It has a lovely windows VCL (Visual Component Library) framework which is the supreme Windows UI toolkit and a hallmark of productive development on Windows. Also, its FireMonkey framework is at the leading edge of cross-platform development allowing developers to create apps which work on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Linux all from one single codebase. Delphi’s features, performance, and productivity make it the best Windows software maker for anything Windows and beyond. With the current popularity of Windows 10 development (and Windows 11 too), Delphi can be your best companion for Windows apps development.
Start developing with the Windows Software Development Kit now
Delphi is the most straightforward native Windows development software. Since its inception in 1995, every new version supported all new features and enhancements in the Windows platform on time. Now is your turn to use Delphi to develop Windows software. So to jumpstart your Windows software development journey by using the latest Windows SDK, download the best Windows development IDE now.