Compare Retool vs DronaHQ vs Appsmith

Gayatri on September 27, 2021

Retool alternatives DronaHQ and Appsmith – A deep technical tear down

 

Low code/No code platforms have ushered in the last few years. If you go by best-fit use cases then you will see several niche categories of these tools. For instance:

  1. Online DB -> Airtable, Quickbase, Knack
  2. Forms -> Jotform, Typeform
  3. Field force apps -> Workmobile, Fulcrum, Prontoforms
  4. Internal tools -> Retool, Jet Admin, Appsmith, DronaHQ
  5. App development -> Mendix, Outsystems, Zoho Creator
  6. BPM -> Kissflow, Decisions

These categories are ever-expanding and new age tools in areas like automation testing, website development, etc are coming along.

On similar lines even in the internal tools category – we see hyper niche categories emerging and tools are specialising and narrowing their focus on Frontend Development. This blog is an attempt to zoom into this new emerging niche category and see how different players are shaping up based on the current tool & their publicly available roadmap.

 

Comparing Top Internal Tool Builders 

Here is a quick introduction to Low code/No code platforms for building internal tools:  They empower makers to create tools or custom business apps for internal teams, say HR, Ops, Finance, Engineering, etc at speed using visual drag-drop interfaces, pre-built UI components, and easy integrations to most databases and APIs. Technically they are frontend app builders for web or mobile or both.

Retool, one of the prominent players in the category is known for its developer-friendly platform to build internal tools fast. However, it is not for everyone or for every use case. According to their needs, customers need a platform that is easier for their developers, professional as well as citizen to use, that supports the development of their unique needs, and is flexible and fits their budget. 

In this article, we will compare in-depth these tools to understand the subtle differences between the platforms.

The tools that we will be comparing are:

  1. Retool
  2. DronaHQ
  3. Appsmith

Disclaimer: Information on tool capabilities are derived from public websites, community and other reliable sources.

At a broad level, we will be comparing the tools against the below capabilities

  1. Basic & Advance Ui building capability
  2. Components
  3. Connectors
  4. Actionflows
  5. Extensibility

 

1. Basic UI Building Capability:

 

Retool DronaHQ Appsmith
Grid division 12 24 12
Collision detection Yes Yes Yes
Resizing & Moving Yes Yes Yes
Build your own control Only via iframes Yes No
Event listeners on own controls No Yes No
Action flows Yes Yes Yes
Visual action builder No Yes No
Responsive Designing No Yes No

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Advance UI Builder Capability:

Retool DronaHQ Appsmith
Form Repeat No Yes No
Automatic Hidden

elements readjustment

No Yes No
Dynamic Tab Creation No Yes No
Multi-Level Side Menu No Yes No
Sub Apps No Yes No
Visual Rule Engine No Yes No

 

 

 

Advanced UI capability enables teams to build responsive web apps or mobile apps and also handle higher-order complexity to create UI and associated CSS logic. For instance, let’s say you have a few components vertically aligned in your UI and you need one of the components in the middle to be hidden. In this case, an advanced UI builder would handle not showing white space but rather move the remaining components up.

3. Advance Front end Components

 

Retool DronaHQ Appsmith
Local Datastore No Yes No
Document viewer No Yes No
Dynamic image grid No Yes No
Signature pad No Yes No
Recaptcha No Yes Yes

 

 

 

 

Advance components or controls (different platforms call them differently) are also an indicator of how these platforms are architected. For instance – DronaHQ provides a control builder tool to let developers build not just the component but set up its data binding, events and properties. However, at the same time Retool & Appsmith lets you bring in a new component in an iframe. This fundamentally means that you as a platform user cant extend the platform intrinsically.

4. Connectors

 

Retool DronaHQ Appsmith
Auth type Support
AWS Yes Yes Yes
oAUTH 2.0 Yes Yes Yes
oAuth 1.0 Yes No No
Basic Yes Yes Yes
DBs Yes Yes Yes
APIs
REST Yes Yes Yes
SOAP Yes Yes Yes
GraphQL Yes Yes No
Ready APIs Limited Exhaustive No
GrPC Limited No No

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these tools provide a varying list of DB connectors and support a variety of auth types. However, DronaHQ provides an exhaustive and growing list of ready 3rd party APIs like Zendesk, Quickbooks, Stripe, WhatsApp, Jira, Trello and many more.

5. Action Flows/ Event handlers

 

 

Retool DronaHQ Appsmith
On-Screen Actions
Popups No Yes No
Toasts No Yes No
Confirm No Yes No
Branch-based logic builder No Yes No
Custom Javascript Yes Yes Yes
Add to calendar No Yes No
Share via WhatsApp No Yes No
Server Side actions
Call DB resource No Yes No
Call API No Yes No
Bind Data from API call to another control No Yes No
Build variables from API responses No Yes No

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: In Retool and Appsmith,  to achieve any specific set of things with a click of a button or any event, the only option is to write Javascript. Whereas DronaHQ provides visual components to create an event call workflow.

 

Summing up

You now have more clarity on how Retool, DronaHQ and Appsmith stand against one another and which one is the right fit for your team’s needs. 

Now, let the fun work begin. Start building your internal tools, check out our guides on how to get started with your Database GUIs, Admin Panels, or Custom Apps, or this ready template marketplace to find inspiration for internal tools in your business.