SDK vs IDE: Difference and Comparison

In this contemporary world, the continuous rise of technology is opening several doors of opportunities in the IT sector. So, if you want to try your hand at programming, you’ll probably need a few things first. An SDK and an IDE are examples of these items. 

Key Takeaways

  1. SDKs provide developers with tools, libraries, and documentation to build applications, while IDEs offer a comprehensive environment for writing, editing, and debugging code.
  2. SDKs are platform-specific and help developers integrate specific features, whereas IDEs support multiple programming languages and platforms.
  3. IDEs include SDKs as part of their framework, allowing developers to access SDK features within the same environment where they write code.


A software development kit (SDK) is a set of programs and tools to develop applications for use on a system or programming language. The tools include documentation, libraries, code samples and guides. An integrated development environment is a software that facilitates the development of applications with comprehensive facilities. It consists of a compiler, a code editor and a debugger.


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SDK is an abbreviation for a software development kit, known as a devkit. It is a collection of software tools and programs that developers use to create apps for specific platforms.

SDK tools will contain libraries, documentation, code examples, procedures, and instructions for developers to utilize and incorporate into their own projects.  

On the contrary, an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) helps programmers to streamline the process of creating a computer program.

IDEs boost programmer productivity by integrating typical software development tasks such as editing source code, generating executables, and debugging into a single application. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison SDK IDE 
Full-Form Software development kit Integrated Development Environment 
Uses It adds functionality to applications and programs. It is used to write and test codes. 
Purpose  It provides programming tools. It provides an interface. 
Tools It comprises documentation, processes, libraries, code samples, and guides. Ide consists of auto-documentation, build automation, libraries debugger and translator. 
Types Platform SDKs, Extension SDKs, Structure SDKs Cloud-based, Mobile applications, HTML, Apple or Microsoft development. 

What is SDK? 

SDKs are software development kits that are intended to be utilized with specific platforms or programming languages.

They are software tools and programs developers can utilize to create various applications for specific platforms. SDKs have documentation that explains the working of each code with examples to make it more comprehensible.  

To use an SDK successfully, a developer must have an iOS SDK to create iOS apps, an Android toolkit to create Android apps, a Nordic SDK to create Bluetooth or wireless apps, and a VMware SDK to integrate with the VMware platform.  

A software development kit consists of application programming interfaces (APIs), documentation, libraries and processes, code samples, and guides that can be used and integrated into the developer’s apps.

An SDK uses an application programming interface to communicate with other software or applications. 

It enables developers to make their applications more functional and helps make it faster and easier to design the standard components of their apps. SDKs can be used for simple features such as location services, logging in, mobile payments, etc.  

There are specific software development kits that can assist developers in developing more advanced app features, like virtual reality, augmented reality, etc. 


What is IDE? 

IDE stands for an integrated development environment. It’s a software package that combines all the essential tools required for writing and testing software.

It consists of a compiler or interpreter, a code editor, and a debugger that is accessed through a GUI (graphical user interface).  

The user is supposed to write and edit their source code using the code editor, after which the compiler or interpreter translates it into a readable and executable language. The debugger tends to test the software for any bugs or issues. 

It also contains helpful features like programmable editors, unit testing, a source code library, object and data modelling, and build automation tools.

An integrated development environment’s toolbar resembles a word processor’s toolbar, which facilitates source code formatting, error diagnostics and reporting, colour-based organization, and intelligent code completion. 

Developers can use an IDE to write, compile, and execute code and manage changes to their source code. It can also support model-driven development and is designed to assimilate with third-party version control libraries. 

There are several different types of IDEs with different purposes. These include cloud-based IDEs, IDEs that are customized for mobile applications, HTML, and for Apple or Microsoft development.

intellij ide

Main Differences Between SDK and IDE 

  1. The difference between an SDK and an IDE is that An IDE is used to write and test codes and to help debug a developer’s code. An SDK is used to add functionality to the codes written. A developer uses an SDK to create programs in specific programming languages. 
  2. SDK stands for Software Development Kits, and IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. 
  3. The purpose of a software development kit is to provide a set of programming tools and software. In contrast, the purpose of an integrated development environment is to provide an interface for writing and debugging codes. 
  4. An SDK comprises various tools and software, including documentation, processes, libraries, guides, and code samples. An IDE consists of build automation, auto-documentation, a translator or interpreter, source codes, a code editor, and a debugger. 
  5. Another difference between SDK and IDE is in their types. The various types of software development kits are platform SDKs, Structure SDKs, and Extension SDKs. The different types of IDEs available are in the form of cloud-based IDEs, IDEs specifically meant for apple or Microsoft development, and IDEs customized for mobile applications and for HTML. 

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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