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Chat Components vs. SDKs: Make your build the best it can be

3 min readPubNub Staff on Mar 28, 2022
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Trying to decide between Chat Components, using an SDK, or both? You’ve come to the right place.

We know it can be daunting.

You’re set on the task of creating a chat application for your company and need to make sure you're not only picking the right starting point (SDK vs Chat Components) that will lead you to a successful build—but also one that is affordable and not time consuming—considering the resources you have available to use.  

With that being said, where do you start?

As we mentioned, there's two main ways to build chat—using an SDK or building using chat components. Which path you choose will be dependent on the criteria(s) you have for your chat application build. Here, we'll explain both and then walk you through a few of the main considerations to keep in mind when deciding which path to choose. 

Here at PubNub, we just released chat components for iOS and Android.

We know that there’s not always the time or the need to build out a chat that is 100% unique. Chat components are pre-built and easy-to-use and provide the building blocks to create iOS, Android and web chat applications. However, just because we have them, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the right way to go for you and your build. You can also build using SDKs. SDKs will give you the tools to build your chat app efficiently and effectively, while allowing the flexibility to make it how you want. The way we see it, there are four different questions to ask when deciding on an SDK or chat components. By answering these questions, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect chat for you. 

Do you already have chat functionality in your existing app and want to migrate it over to a different platform? SDK

If you already have a chat application up and running and you just want to be able to run that on a different platform, SDK is the way to go. This is a great option if you already have a chat application and don’t want to change the way the current user interface already works. Going the SDK route here will make changes to the backend only, which means the change will be invisible to the end user and it's a great way to be able to use PubNub (or any other vendor) more or less white label. 

Do you already have a design in mind? Or a pre-written scope of what needs to be done? SDK

This is another great reason to go the SDK route. If you’ve been tasked with making a chat application and a vision/build design has already been set, you will probably need more flexibility to build out a unique end product. The GUI aspects of chat components are highly customizable, however, they may not be able to fit exactly into your existing design. A good thing to keep in mind if you already have a design is that more resources (designer, coder) will be needed to make your vision a reality. If you’re set with that, then happy building! 

Do you need to support platforms other than React, Android, and iOS? SDK

This is a good check when deciding which way to go, no matter what vendor you choose. For PubNub, we currently support chat components on React, Android, and iOS. In the future, we are planning to expand that list. But for now, it’s better to select SDKs with us if you need support on something other than these three, as our SDKs support a larger set of platforms and programming languages. 

Do you need your chat done yesterday? Chat Components

If your answer is yes, this is where chat components are your golden ticket. Chat components are designed to help you get to market quickly. We use an aggregation of the most common use cases, so the end product should be able to fit the most common needs for chat. It’s as easy as pulling them in and going—and you can be up and running in roughly 10 minutes.

Are you looking for a quick POC or an MVP? Do you have no design requirements in mind so far? Chat Components

This is another great reason to go with chat components. If you don’t yet have an idea of the design flow, chat components are here to help. We have design packs and pre-built templates that will help you design a great end user experience without the necessity for added designer resources. 

In the end, both the chat components and SDK route are a great way to build out your future chat. Which to use will boil down to the timing, requirements, and resources you have for your build. In whatever way you choose to build, PubNub is here to help. 

Explore our Chat Documentation to learn more about how to build chat with PubNub.

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