Unlocking the Power of SDKs: Guide for Product Managers

Rohit Verma
7 min readApr 11, 2024


In the bustling corridors of a tech startup, amidst the hum of keyboards and the glow of monitors, a pivotal interaction unfolds between a developer and a product manager. The developer, tasked with integrating a new feature into the company’s flagship application, faces a roadblock: the need to access a complex functionality beyond the app’s current capabilities. Enter the product manager, armed with a solution — a Software Development Kit (SDK). In this moment, the convergence of technical expertise and strategic vision becomes palpable as the two collaborators embark on a journey to unlock the power of SDKs.For product managers, familiarity with SDKs is crucial because they facilitate the development of features and integrations that can enhance a product’s functionality and appeal to users.

What is an SDK?

An SDK, or Software Development Kit, is a set of software tools and programs provided by hardware and software vendors that developers can use to build applications for specific platforms or devices. An SDK typically includes one or more APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), programming tools, and documentation. Essentially, it serves as a comprehensive “kit” that offers everything needed to develop applications around a specific framework or platform.

The Origin of SDKs

The concept of SDKs dates back to the early days of computer programming, evolving from simple libraries to more complex frameworks designed to support application development on emerging platforms. The origin of SDKs as we know them today can be traced to the rise of personal computing and the internet, where software companies began offering kits to encourage developers to build applications for their operating systems or hardware, thereby enhancing the ecosystem.

Why is SDK Used?

SDKs are used for a multitude of reasons:

  • Simplification: They simplify the development process by providing ready-to-use components, reducing the time and resources needed for app development.
  • Standardization: SDKs help in maintaining a standard across applications developed for a specific platform, ensuring compatibility and reliability.
  • Access to advanced features: Many SDKs provide access to hardware-specific features or sophisticated software capabilities that would be difficult to implement from scratch.
  • Ecosystem growth: By offering SDKs, platform owners can encourage the development of third-party applications, which enriches the platform’s ecosystem.

Why Product Managers Should Know About SDK

For product managers, understanding SDKs is vital for several reasons:

  • Strategic planning: Knowing the capabilities and limitations of relevant SDKs can help in strategic product planning and feature prioritization.
  • Vendor selection: Evaluating different SDKs for functionality, support, and performance can influence the choice of technology partners.
  • Time-to-market: Understanding how an SDK can speed up development can impact launch timelines and go-to-market strategies.
  • Cost implications: SDKs can have licensing costs or terms of use that might affect the project budget.

Questions Product Managers Should Ask Developers

When considering an SDK, product managers should engage developers with specific questions to make informed decisions:

  1. How does the SDK integrate with our current tech stack?
  2. What are the long-term support prospects of the SDK?
  3. Are there any known limitations or issues with the SDK?
  4. How does the SDK impact application performance and size?
  5. What are the security implications of using this SDK?
  6. Is there a vibrant developer community around the SDK?

Pros and Cons of Using SDK


  • Accelerated development time
  • Access to complex functionalities
  • Support and documentation available


  • Potential for increased app size
  • Possible dependency on third-party platforms
  • Security risks if the SDK is not properly vetted

Best Practices for Implementing SDKs

For product managers overseeing projects involving SDKs, the following best practices are essential:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence on the SDK’s performance, security practices, and developer community.
  • Monitor SDK updates and assess their impact on your application.
  • Evaluate the SDK’s compatibility with your app’s requirements and future roadmap.
  • Ensure clear communication with your development team regarding SDK integration and potential issues.

Practical Examples

Example 1: Social Media Integration Many apps integrate with social media platforms for user authentication or content sharing, utilizing SDKs provided by Facebook, Twitter, or Google. These SDKs simplify the integration process, providing ready-to-use authentication mechanisms and APIs to access or post content.

Example 2: Payment Gateways E-commerce apps often incorporate SDKs from payment providers like Stripe or PayPal to process transactions. These SDKs handle the complexities of payment processing, security, and compliance, enabling developers to add payment capabilities without building these systems from scratch.

Steps to Create an SDK

Creating an SDK involves several technical steps, each crucial for ensuring the SDK’s functionality, reliability, and ease of integration. Here are the key technical steps involved in SDK creation:

1. Choose the Right Technology Stack:

Select the appropriate programming languages, frameworks, and tools based on the target platforms and the SDK’s requirements. For example, if developing a mobile SDK, you might use Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android. Consider factors such as performance, compatibility, and developer familiarity.

2. Design the Architecture:

Design the architecture of the SDK, including the overall structure, component interactions, and APIs exposed to developers. Ensure that the architecture is modular, extensible, and well-suited to the SDK’s intended use cases. Consider using design patterns such as MVC (Model-View-Controller) or MVP (Model-View-Presenter) to promote separation of concerns and maintainability.

3. Implement Core Functionality:

Develop the core functionality of the SDK, focusing on features that fulfill the SDK’s primary purpose. This may include data collection, processing, storage, and communication with external systems. Write clean, maintainable code that adheres to coding standards and best practices.

4. Create APIs:

Define APIs that developers will use to interact with the SDK. Design APIs that are intuitive, consistent, and well-documented to facilitate integration and usage. Consider providing both high-level APIs for common tasks and low-level APIs for advanced customization.

5. Handle Errors and Edge Cases:

Implement error handling mechanisms to gracefully handle unexpected situations and edge cases. This includes validating inputs, handling network failures, and providing meaningful error messages to developers. Ensure that the SDK behaves predictably and recovers gracefully from errors.

6. Implement Security Measures:

Incorporate security measures to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access or tampering. Use encryption for data transmission and storage, implement authentication mechanisms to verify user identity, and follow security best practices to mitigate common vulnerabilities such as injection attacks and XSS (Cross-Site Scripting).

7. Optimize Performance:

Optimize the SDK for performance to minimize resource usage and ensure responsiveness. This may involve optimizing algorithms, reducing memory footprint, and implementing caching mechanisms. Test the SDK under various conditions to identify and address performance bottlenecks.

8. Test Thoroughly:

Conduct comprehensive testing of the SDK to ensure its reliability, functionality, and compatibility. This includes unit testing to verify individual components, integration testing to validate interactions with external systems, and regression testing to ensure that changes do not introduce new issues. Test the SDK on different platforms, devices, and environments to ensure compatibility.

9. Document Extensively:

Create clear and comprehensive documentation for the SDK, including installation instructions, usage guidelines, API reference documentation, and troubleshooting tips. Provide code examples and tutorials to help developers understand how to integrate and use the SDK effectively. Documentation plays a crucial role in facilitating adoption and reducing the learning curve for developers.

10. Package and Distribute:

Package the SDK for distribution in a format suitable for the target platforms. This may involve creating libraries or packages for different programming languages, setting up repositories or package managers for distribution, and providing download links or installation instructions. Consider integrating with popular package managers such as npm, CocoaPods, or Maven for easier installation and updates.

11. Provide Support and Maintenance:

Offer ongoing support and maintenance for the SDK to address issues, provide assistance to developers, and release updates with new features or bug fixes. Establish communication channels such as forums, email support, or ticketing systems to receive feedback and respond to inquiries promptly. Continuously monitor the SDK’s performance and stability and release updates as necessary to ensure its continued reliability and relevance.

Final Thoughts!

SDKs are powerful tools that can significantly enhance the development process, offering a blend of speed, efficiency, and access to advanced functionalities. For product managers, understanding the strategic importance of SDKs, the right questions to ask, and the best practices for implementation can make the difference between a good product and a great one. By leveraging SDKs effectively, product managers can drive innovation, improve user experiences, and accelerate the success of their projects.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got ideas to contribute to this conversation please comment. If you like what you read and want to see more, clap me some love! Follow me here, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Thanks for reading! If you’ve got ideas to contribute to this conversation please comment. If you like what you read and want to see more, clap me some love! Follow me here, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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