Retool Review: Features, Pricing, Comparison and Alternatives

Ambar on February 26, 2021
We are review Retool, a low-code application development platform based on features & functionalities, pricing, and its alternatives.


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 

User Persona (Target Audience)

Retool is a good choice for IT departments, developers, and engineers with a strong grasp of important database tools such as MongoDB, SQL, or React and Javascript. Here, the IT team launches an internal tool using Retool, and non-technical team members such as marketing, operations, and customer support can access the tool in “user-mode.” 

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.

[Blog] Best Retool Alternatives to build Internal Tools – a deep technical teardown >

Frontend Builder

Builder features

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. 

While the platform takes care of pulling data and UI development, you have to write the code for your internal tool, like SQL queries or POST requests. In Retool, you can extend with JavaScript or build custom react components,  write SQL queries, POST requests, or data transformers.  

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. 

For complicated operations, DronaHQ support all excel formulas and only when users need greater flexibility to build apps, such as bringing in server-side filter capabilities for databases or encrypting API payloads – DronaHQ makes it possible with tools like a query builder to query your SQL database without code and ability to import JavaScript libraries respectively. 

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.

Event Handlers

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.


Retool Review - Event Handlers

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.


DronaHQ Event Handlers



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.


Ready Database

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.


Use Cases

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. 

– Startup Plan: It costs $10/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. 

– Pro Plan: In addition to the previous plan, it costs $50/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 unlimited users in all pricing plans. With usage-based pricing based on the number of tasks per month, DronaHQ provides three plans – 

  – Starter Plan: It prices at $100 per month, provides 25000 tasks, 10 published applications, 5,000 records, 20GB storage, 2 admins, and 5 connectors. Users can create and share public apps in this plan.

  – Business Plan: It gives 1,25,000 tasks, 20 published applications, 50,000 records, 40GB storage, 10 admins, and 25 connectors for $500 per month. 

  – Enterprise Plan: If you need SSO or other custom needs, you have to go for an enterprise plan. contact sales for detailed information

Workflows, Automations, Additional Database storage, 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.

Forest Admin is a good alternative for engineers and developers who have a strong grasp of important scripting and database languages such as JavaScript and SQL.

If you’re a development team looking for the Retool alternative for building admin panel apps that are not very complex, then JetAdmin is the tool you should look at.

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.


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.

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