As the global pandemic’s impact continues well into 2021, IT leaders will continue to rely on rapid, agile low-code application development platforms to roll out business-critical solutions and expand digital channels. Platforms that integrate holistic multi-experiences and easy enterprise data access will enable organizations to navigate continued economic uncertainty.
During this pandemic, people from all business segments — developers, IT, and business users — have seen what these platforms are capable of, making them a more viable option.
Gartner predicts that by 2023, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will be using low code as a strategic application platform. As business users need a way to transform their manual, office-based processes into ones that could be accomplished online, many turned to low-code to help get that done.
To add to that, 69% of professional IT developers are preferring a low-code development platform to work with. 80% believe that using low code can free developers time to work on higher-level projects.
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This blog will help you evaluate between two low-code platforms which are serving millions of users.
What is Retool?
According to their website, Retool is a low-code platform to build custom internal tools using a drag-and-drop editor with ‘building blocks’ like tables, text boxes, dropdowns and connect them to your databases and APIs.
You are able to connect your apps to databases such as MongoDB, MySQL, Sheets, Excel and Athena, as well as APIs like Twilio, Slack, Salesforce, and Github. Retool also comes with a no. of pre-built app templates such as Customer Support Tools, PR Dashboards, and Firebase Admin Panel.
What is DronaHQ?
DronaHQ low-code platform is the fastest way to build enterprise-ready mobile and web apps and internal tools. The platform includes an intuitive and powerful drag-and-drop front-end designer, and the ability to add enhanced event handlers using Actionflows. Developers and engineering teams and non-technical business users love the platform for the speed and flexibility it provides to create admin panels, CRUD apps, GUI, frontends on top of their Databases or APIs.
You can connect apps to any database or APIs using ready native integrations to Google Sheets, PostgreSQL, Airtable, MongoDB, Twilio, Slack, HubSpot, Zendesk, Stripe and lots more. DronaHQ also comes with a no. of pre-built app templates such as Database GUIs, Custom CRM, and MongoDB Admin Panel.
Difference between DronaHQ and Retool
|UI builder and apps|
|Editor||2 editors – Simple and Advanced (CSS friendly)||1 editor – simple only|
|Screens||Multi screen experience||Single screen apps|
|Screen types||Header, Screen, Pop up, Menu, Drawer/Tray||Screens and modals|
|Components/Controls||120+ components||100 components|
|Templates||Ready templates for different screen types||No templates|
|Mobile||Same apps can be for mobile and web||Different apps needed to be built for mobile and web|
|Form repeats – self repeating forms||Available||Not available|
|Tab index||Available||Not available|
|Visual actionflows||Available||Not available|
|Step by step debugging of actionflows||Available||Not available|
|Advanced keywords like screen width||Available||Not available|
|Unified rule and validation engine||Available||Each component individually|
|Unique screen URLs and routing||Available||Not available|
|Localization – same app multiple languages||Available||Not available|
|Assistive AI in queries and JS||Available||Not available|
|Allow setting environment at runtime||Available – user when environments used for multitenant||Not available|
|Secure embed for logged in users with SSO||Apps can be embedded in login walled portals||only iframes without SSO|
|Parent – App message passing||Realtime message passing in embedded apps||Not available|
|Data environments||Unlimited||Dev, staging, prod|
|App environments||Same app can be released in beta for subset of users||Not available|
|Auto generate CRUD and forms||Available on SQL databases||Not available|
|JS objects||Common JS functions – can be used across the app||Not available|
|Control designer – custom controls||Figma type control builder for designers||Not available|
|Control editor – custom controls||Control builder web based IDE for custom controls||Not available|
|Action editor – custom actions blocks||Web based IDE for custom action blocks||Not available|
|Databases||Standard + IAM role (self hsoted) + existing SSH keys.||Standard|
|REST, SOAP, GraphQL||Standard||Standard|
|API auth methods||Standard + JWT, NTLM, Hawk, oAuth 1.0a, Digest, PKCE etc.||Standard|
|Multi step auth||All above auth + JS code||Custom auth|
|Ready APIs||Slack, Google sheets, Airtable, Salesforce, Twilio, AWS etc.||Limited options.|
|Protocols||Grpc, sftp, smtp, shell script||Limited and only on self hosted.|
|Import from open api 3.0||Single click import||Not available|
|User management and ecosystem|
|SSO||OIDC, SAML, Google and Custom in cloud and self hosted.||OIDC, SAML only in Self hosted.|
|User roles||Owner, admin, user||Owner, admin, user|
|Permissions||User and group based including granularity of environments.||Limited permissions.|
|Different creator and user portals||Available||Not available|
|Advanced branding of end user portal||Available||Not available|
|White branded mobile app||Available on respective appstores||Not available|
|Custom domain||Available on cloud and self hosted||Only self hosted|
|App and user analytics||Available||Not available|
|App catalog||Multiple groups – show different apps||Not available|
|Advanced security options||IP whitelisting, device restrictions etc.||Not available|
|PDF creator||Available||Not available|
|Automation||Cloud and self hosted||Only cloud|
|Public apps and Embed||Cloud and self hosted||Limited features|
Retool Embed vs DronaHQ Embed - A Quick Study
User Persona (Target Audience)
DronaHQ is a low-code platform that helps build Mobile & Web frontend applications. It is used by developers and engineering teams as well as citizen developers and business users to build a fully functional app. Unlike Retool, DronaHQ does not require the user to write JS for everything. With support for over 100+ excel-like functions, adding logic to internal apps and tools comes very simple with DronaHQ. On DronaHQ, app makers can instantly share apps with teams, embed them on websites or their custom portals or share via a public link. Custom domain available on cloud plans too.
Retool allows you to build web-based internal tools using their drag-and-drop building blocks and binding that to your databases and APIs. A great deal of emphasis is placed on how hackable Retool is with knowledge of SQL, databases, Excel, and other related tools.
Unlike Retool, all apps built on DronaHQ are by default accessible on the web and mobile where users get a choice of using them on an end-user portal or a mobile app.
DronaHQ is a lot more no-code friendly. DronaHQ provides a huge range of pre-built UI controls, app screens, layouts, and templates that can be used out of the box, customized and launched within minutes.
When it comes to custom UI designing its Control Designer allows you to make custom UI components in a no-code way.
Multiscreen Apps & Screen types
Retool allows users to build single-page applications. If users need to navigate from one screen to another, based on a logical expression or on the click of a button, they can achieve that using different single-page applications and configuring navigation from one app to another, to create that multi-screen app experience.
In contrast to creating multiple one-page applications, DronaHQ supports the development of multiscreen apps. Users can add as many screens to an app as needed. DronaHQ also supports different screen types, like Page, Popup, Menu, Tray – each essential to cater to a certain app experience. For example, a warning or success pop up message or a menu to navigate screens within an app.
Retool enables users to build such popup screens using Modals. Users need to know how to create queries and use scripts to enable these modals in their apps. DronaHQ gives this out of the box with no coding necessary.
Both Retool and DronaHQ support Event Handlers to trigger actions in response to user interactions. Retool supports this configuration for a limited number of events with a limited set of actions.
DronaHQ enables event handling for more complex operations and frontend actions using an actionflow builder. Visually define complex event handlers using conditional branching logic and computations. You can Define the next steps like – open url, set control value, navigate, push notification, and lots more. Users can also configure event handlers to run DB or API calls.
Both Retool and DronaHQ provide a wide range of database and API connectors. Retool places a lot of emphasis on building tools over databases and the same reflects in their database connector repository – they support a wide range of DB connectors and some API connectors. DronaHQ also supports native integration to most popularly used DB and APIs and support for REST APIs to connect to remaining ones.
While Retool provides native integrations, the actions supported are limited. For example, in Retool, while integrating with Google Sheets, you need to write queries to be able to perform actions like update row in sheet, append new row. Whereas in DronaHQ, these services come pre configured so CRUD operations can be implemented in a no-code way.
Understanding how many operations start with a spreadsheet and then evolve to application – DronaHQ also offers a built-in database called ‘sheets’ and supports most excel formula and functions for binding data or writing complex business logic i.e Logical Functions, Date and Time Functions, Text Functions, Math Functions, custom functions. Retool requires you to connect to your existing databases in order to build apps.
Retool is a backend tool for building admin panels, dashboards, customer support tools, Database GUI, CRUD apps, approval workflows.
DronaHQ is used to build admin panel, dashboard, database GUI, CRUD apps as well as embeddable forms, field service apps, data collection apps, approval workflows, automation apps, multilingual apps, learning -training apps.
Taking an example, using DronaHQ you can build dynamic forms that submit data right into your data sources with additional logical branching determining events on form submissions, such as approval, data transformation, API calls, configure email notifications and more.
For data representation apps like admin panels and dashboards, DronaHQ gives a tablegrid component with all capabilities in-built on top of which you can write custom queries for your database.
Plans & Pricing
Retool offers user-based pricing model. Every plan comes with editor mode, which lets you write queries and design UI actions.
– Free Plan: This plan allows you to connect to any database or API, except Salesforce. This plan will enable you to use the query library to build, share, and resume queries for any database or API. Free subscribers receive 10 queries per app.
– Team Plan: It costs $12/standard user + $7/end user per month, with user mode, allowing the app outside of the editor interface. This option also provides versioned releases & revision history features so that you can revert your app.
– Business Plan: In addition to the previous plan, it costs $65/standard user + $18/end user per month, allowing you to create user groups and assign them to specific permissions within the app. It gives an audit logs feature that authorizes you to track every written query, including reading & writing, from API and databases. You can also integrate with Salesforce and other SQL servers. Pro subscribers can work with the Retool team to develop other customized features. While public links are only available from this plan.
– Enterprise plan: This plan provides version control with Git. The Retool team will work together with the subscribers to build custom connectors. Each of these subscribers receives a dedicated success manager from the Retool team and a shared Slack channel.
DronaHQ offers user-based pricing, Starting from as low as $10 per user per month for the starter plan and $25 per user per month for a business plan.
– Developer plan: Designed for developers and early-stage startups, the free plan allows for experimentation and exploration in building full-stack apps. Users can build an unlimited number of web and mobile apps. The plan includes 0 published apps, access to 100+ pre-built UI components, and the ability to connect apps to any database or API.
– Starter plan: Starting at $10 per user per month, this plan caters to individuals and agile startups with straightforward requirements for web and mobile apps, eliminating the need for boilerplate. Users can build and publish an unlimited number of web and mobile apps, with the added benefit of Google SSO integration.
– Business plan: Beginning at $50 per user per month, this offering targets fast-growing scaleups aiming to expand through the development of branded operational apps and internal tools across multiple teams. The plan allows for seamless integration with Okta, AD, and other SAML or openID and OAuth2.0 SSO providers, ensuring secure and efficient user authentication.
– Enterprise plan: This plan caters to large businesses that require enterprise-class apps with advanced security, control, and support, including SSO/AD integration for seamless user authentication.
Workflows, Automation, Embed, Additional Database storage, and PDF generator are some compelling add-ons.
All the plans include features like drag and drop UI builder, actionflow builder, sheets database, query builder, database and API connectors, and analytics. Additionally, custom functions, code blocks, control designer, and customized controls are supported by the Business plan. Enterprise plan gives all the features mentioned above along with a few more options like SSO, environments, Cloud & on-prem deployment etc.
Alternatives for Retool
If you’re looking for a low-code solution for building internal apps that is no-code first and opens up the code word only when you absolutely need it, or in other words, that can help you build your custom internal apps in minutes, then Try DronaHQ, a more flexible alternative for mobile and web output.
If you’re a developer and you want to build your internal tools by using some open-source library, then UI Bakery is the right choice for you.
Comparing Retool vs Internal.io?
Evaluating any software is always a difficult task. There are so many options available with a ton of features. If you’re looking for an affordable no-code, low-code solution to create simple, automated business applications like database GUI, Admin panels, dashboards, custom internal tools, data collection apps, automation apps, Try Evaluation Tool by DronaHQ, which will consider various parameters important to you according to your requirement and resources. It will provide you with a clear picture and a way forward to choose the perfect platform for you.