Lesson: What is an SDK?

Explore the programming term SDK (Software Development Kit).

Understand what an SDK is and how it is used.


An SDK, or Software Development Kit, is a package of all of the software tools needed to develop programs for a particular computer or hardware platform. To write programs for specific computers or robotics platforms you need an API library (as described in the previous lesson), deployment scripts (which help compilation on certain platforms), possibly compilers (to allow for the compilation of the code) or IDE plug-ins (similar to extensions to a web browser). All of these items are needed to produce programs for a specific platform. Software vendors or providers (such as FIRST) typically gather all of the components you need to program the target platform into an easily installable package called an SDK.

To develop Java programs, you will need to install the Java SDK. We will cover that in detail later.

For robotics, each hardware (and software) platform has its own SDK. We will explore the details of these SDKs later. For now, just know that for whatever platform you are working with, you will need to download the specific required SDK and install it on your programming computer to get started programming robots.

Here is the Wikipedia discussion of an SDK.

An SDK is typically used in conjunction with an IDE or Interactive Development Environment. An IDE is a software tool used to write programs. Think of it as Windows NotePad on steroids. An IDE has many features and capabilities to make developing programs easier and faster. You will write your robot programs using an IDE. The IDE used with the EV3 and FRC robots is called Eclipse. There are two IDEs available for Tetrix robots, OnBot Java or Android Studio. Will will discuss these IDEs in detail in a later lesson.