October 27, 2023

Compare Retool vs Appsmith vs DronaHQ

Research firm Forrester predicted back in 2020 that the market would grow to $12 billion by 2023, which was an underestimate as the market was evaluated as a $13.2 billion market in 2023, giving it a 21% average growth yearly since 2019. Forrester predicts that with this outcome, the low-code market will grow to $30 billion by 2028.

Low-code/no-code platforms have undeniably reshaped the way we approach software development. Over the past few years, a revolutionary wave has swept through the tech landscape, giving rise to a myriad of tools that empower users to build applications with minimal coding effort.

As we delve into the landscape of low code/no code platforms – be it for internal tools, building prototypes for clients, creating dashboards or automation – it becomes evident that these tools cater to a diverse array of use cases. From seamlessly managing online databases to crafting intuitive forms, empowering field force applications, and streamlining internal tools, the possibilities seem boundless. Let’s take a closer look at some of these niches:

  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: 

Low-code and no-code platforms 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-first platform to build internal tools fast. However, it is not for everyone or every use case. According to their needs, customers need a platform that is easier for their developers and one that supports the development of their unique needs, and is flexible and fits their budget. 

In this article, we will run a comparison on the front-end development capabilities of the following: Retool, DronaHQ, and Appsmith. [Disclaimer: Information on tool capabilities is 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 & advanced UI building capability
  2. Components
  3. Connectors
  4. Actionflows
  5. Extensibility

retool vs appsmith vs dronahq

1. Basic UI Building Capability:

Grid division122412
Collision detectionYesYesYes
Resizing & MovingYesYesYes
Build your controlOnly via iframesYesNo
UI control editor
Event listeners
on their own controls
Action flowsYesYesYes
Visual action builderNoYesNo
Responsive DesigningNoYesNo

2. Advance UI Builder Capability:

Form RepeatNoYesNo
Hidden UI auto-adjustNoYesNo
Dynamic Tab CreationNoYesNo
Multi-Level Side MenuNoYesNo
Sub AppsNoYesNo
Visual Rule EngineNoYesNo

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 moving the remaining components up.

3. Advanced front-end components

Local DatastoreNoYesNo
Document viewerNoYesNo
Dynamic image gridNoYesNo
Signature padNoYesNo

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 also 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 can’t extend the platform intrinsically.

Why customers love DronaHQ


4. Connectors

Auth type Support
OAuth 2.0YesYesYes
oAuth 1.0YesNoNo
Ready APIsLimitedExhaustiveNo

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

On-Screen Actions
Branch-based logic builderNoYesNo
Custom JavascriptYesYesYes
Add to calendarNoYesNo
Share via WhatsAppNoYesNo
Server Side actions
Call DB resourceNoYesNo
Call APINoYesNo
Bind Data from API call to another controlNoYesNo
Build variables from API responsesNoYesNo

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.

appsmith vs retool

Schedule a 1:1 session with an expert from our team to learn more

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.

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