January 9, 2024

What is an SDK (Software Development Kit)?

Written by: Amanda Lind


“SDK” stands for Software Development Kit. It’s an installable package of software development tools that enable programmers and engineers to create applications and extensions. In other words, software developers use SDKs like car mechanics use car parts. Mechanics don’t reinvent the brakes, axle, or transmission when they build a car. They buy the parts and put the car together.

When software developers want to add a certain functionality to their application, they don’t necessarily need to build everything from scratch. Instead, they might be able to use an SDK that offers the functionality they need. To make development easier and faster, SDKs are often packaged as part of development software for translating code, testing, and debugging.

Typically, the implementation of an SDK in the software development process can take two forms: the required components can be directly plugged into the underlying code to provide needed functionalities for the development of a standalone application, or the SDK can be used to customize the standard installation of the original desktop software, such as Global Mapper, to add custom tools and features. In the former case, the use of the SDK is not apparent to the user of the software; it is simply compiled with the rest of the application and runs like any other.

Blue Marble Geographics offers SDKs that include the functionality of most of its GIS and geodetics applications to assist developers with their projects. The SDKs are updated with each Blue Marble software release, allowing developers to integrate cutting-edge features and tools into their software.

Global Mapper SDKs

Global Mapper and Global Mapper Pro are Blue Marble’s all-in-one GIS software. It is designed for analyzing spatial data, making maps, visualizing 3D data, processing point cloud data, generating and editing digital terrain models, and managing other geographic information. It’s used in a broad range of industries — ranging from oil and gas to UAV — for countless purposes. 

The Global Mapper SDK gives developers the ability to develop custom applications,  allowing much of the functionality of the Global Mapper desktop application to be used within their own applications. It comes as a set of standard Windows DLLs and is available in many programming languages on a Windows platform, including Visual C++, C#, and Python.

An alternative approach for developers interested in applying Global Mapper’s geospatial processing engine to a customized workflow is to build new tools or add functionality directly into the current interface by creating extensions. The standard Global Mapper installation includes a couple of preconfigured extensions that offer developers an opportunity to see how this process works. The COAST (Coastal Adaptation to Sea Level Rise Tool) extension was developed to analyze the effects of flooding or sea level rise on coastal communities, and the Bridge extension offers a concise set of vector tools for creating and editing bridge features. Extensions are added and activated within the License Manager dialog box, which is accessed from the Help menu in the desktop software. The Global Mapper SDK also comes packaged with a few simple extension projects that can be used as examples for developing your own.

Geographic Calculator 

Blue Marble’s Geographic Calculator, renowned for its reliability and accuracy, is the world’s leading coordinate conversion tool. The core technology behind the Geographic Calculator is available through the GeoCalc Software Development Kit, allowing developers to embed coordinate conversion and geodetic calculation support into their own systems and programs.

The GeoCalc Class Library (GeoCalc) is a fully object-oriented class library designed for GIS professionals and software developers. Often used with GPS, surveying, engineering, and mapping systems GeoCalc Class Library provides users with high accuracy, dependable coordinate conversions, transformations, and geodetic calculations. GeoCalc employs a high-level parametric database model to efficiently store and retrieve coordinate reference systems, Area of Use statistics, ellipsoids, geodetic datum transformations, unit parameters, and everything else that is needed for advanced geodetic software applications.

As Blue Marble Geographics’ products grow more sophisticated with every release, so do the possibilities for its development customers who are working on geospatial technology.

To learn more about the GIS and geodetics SDKs that Blue Marble Geographics offers, visit bluemarblegeo.com.

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