Top 5 Retool Alternatives

Gayatri on February 03, 2022

This is NOT your average ‘Top Retool Alternatives’ or ‘Best Low Code platforms’ post. This space is continuously evolving. The platforms are continuously evolving. New platforms are entering the market. Old platforms are changing strategies and offerings. So my objective is to bring out the finer details by collaborating with low code developers and understanding why and how they choose which platform to use to accelerate internal tool development. Please follow this link to share your inputs or change suggestions or get on a discussion call with me. 

Without a question, many platforms that we talk about in this article offer excellent solutions to building internal tools that are both easy to use and provide a great variety of potential applications. We seek to highlight the capabilities that are unique to the platform or lacking as compared to others. We believe this list most resembles the features and possibilities available on Retool, with a significant number of additional features and use cases you might want to consider.

Let’s get started. 

DronaHQInternalRetoolAppsmithUI BakeryJetAdmin
Basic
Web, Mobile, Responsive AppsMobile + WebWeb, not ResponsiveWebWebWebWeb
Platform is Open SourceNoNoNoYesNoNo
Visual drag drop builder
Pre built / Native UI component libraryBothBothBothBothBothBoth
Visibility Rules & Validation RulesBoth w/o codingVisibility Rules w/ codingBoth w/ codingBoth w/ codingBoth w/ and w/o  codingNA
Build Custom UI ComponentsYesNoYesNoYesNo
Create offline-enabled appsYesNoNoNoNoNo
Frontend Actions/Events
Logic builderVisualVisualCodingCodingCodingCoding
Event listeners on own controlsYesNoYesNoYesNo
Branding
Custom Domain and WhitelabelBothCustom DomainBothBothBothCustom Domain
Developer Productivity & Tooling
Extend functionality with JavaScriptYesYesYesYesYesYes
Support Out of box excel -like formulaYesNoNoNoNoNo
Audit logsYesYesYesNoYesNo
Debugging of appsYesNoYesYesYesNo
Import JavaScript librariesYesNoYesYesYesNo
BPM Workflows
Visual point-and-click workflow builderYesYesYesYesYesYes
Call an API, Write to Database, Call another WorkflowYesYesYesYesYesYes
Automation Capabilities
Configure Time based triggersYesNoYesNoYesNo
Configure Webhook based triggersYesYesYesNoYesNo
Built-in Database
Service giving its own databaseYesNoNoNoNoNo
Integration Capabilities
Database Connectors (PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MySQL, Firebase, etc.)YesYesYesYesYesYes
3rd Party API Connectors (Stripe, Shopify, Slack, Twilio, etc.)YesYesYesYesYesYes
Configure and consume APIs (REST, GraphQL)YesYesYesYesYesYes
Integrate gRPC, Redis, OpenAPI 3.0YesNoYesNoNoNo
Failure ResponseYesNoYesNoYesNo
SSH TunnelingYesYesYesNoYesNo
Deployment
One-click deploymentYesYesYesYesYesNo
Deploy Public Cloud or Self Host/ On-PremYesYesYesYesYesYes
Sharing
Ability to grant Public access to apps YesNoNoYesYesYes
EmbedYesNoYesYesYesNo
User Management
User/Role-based Access (End User)YesYesYesNoYesYes
AD Integration/SSO YesYesYesYesYesYes
Admin permissions (Editor, Admin)YesNoYesYesYesYes
Security
CertificationsISO 27001, SOC-II, GDPRISO 27001, SOC-IIISO 27001, SOC-IISOC-II
API Access RestrictionsNoNoYesNoNoNo
Pricing Flexibility
User based or Usage basedUsage, Unlimited UsersUser basedUser basedUsage, Unlimited UsersUser based, Unlimited Users w/ restrictions User based
Free Forever PlansYesYesYesYesYesYes
App Lifecycle Support
Multiple Environments (Dev, Beta and Prod)YesYesYesYesYesYes
Version Control + Publish Notes (Roll-back)YesNoYesYesYesYes
Analytics
Workflow and Automation Analytics YesNoNoNoYesNo
App and User Analytics YesYesYesNoYesNo
Support + Community
Documentation + Tutorials + Live ChatYesYesYesYesYesYes
CommunityYesNoYesYesYesNo
Customer OnboardingYesYesNoNoYesNo

 

Compare Retool Alternatives in this detailed analysis

Retool – A Web Application Development Platform

Retool is a low code platform for building web based internal tools. Owing to Retool’s developer-centric features, the platform is popular among businesses with sizable developer resources to build internal systems. 

Retool emphasizes connecting with data sources and assumes that you have knowledge of SQL databases. It allows you to connect pre-built drag-and-drop UI components, like tables and charts. Connect with external apps or services using REST APIs, GraphQL, or gRPC API. It also provides ready-made templates of internal tools you may want to build. This makes Retool an ideal platform for IT departments, engineers, developers with a strong understanding of crucial databases such as SQL.

Once the internal engineers/IT team develops the internal tool, they simply launch it and share it with their non-technical colleagues, usually project managers, customer support teams, operations managers, and others, where they use the tool in “user mode.”

It is one of the ‘really good’ internal tool builders out there, however, a lot of users are driven away by its (a) pricing policy tied to the number of end-users, (b) heavy reliance on code, even to perform simple data transformations and writing to database, (c) limited frontend user experience capability, (d) inability to build multi-page apps and mobile based apps. Let’s take a detailed look at its advantages and disadvantage before jumping to top Retool Competitors

Pros: 

  1. Several ready to use templates and reusable UI components like list, charts, form fields. 
  2. Integrates to anything with a REST and GraphQL API. Ready connectors to databases and third-party systems (MySQL, Google Sheets, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Airtable, Slack, etc)
  3. Developers can customize anywhere in Retool using Javascript
  4. Capability to write data with queries without 
  5. Free forever pricing plan (but with limited feature accessibility) 
  6. Have app and data environments – helpful in app lifecycle support
  7. One click deployment to public or private cloud
  8. Active community of users who are supportive and offer help and suggestions

Cons: 

  1. Deployment is limited to single screen web apps. Also, it is possible only via Docker or Kubernetes
  2. Does not connect to platform like Zapier 
  3. Not fit to build comprehensive, responsive frontend web apps
  4. It is not HIPAA and GDPR compliant
  5. Functionalities like visibility rules, form validation, on-screen events and binding the data from APIs/DB to front-end require coding unline in other tools where you can configure these visually
  6. App sharing is a challenge as you can’t make public facing apps. The free plan doesn’t permit you to share apps. you have to pay for every app viewer
  7. They don’t have separate interface for users to define automations (think Zapier)

Use Cases: 

Single page internal ’employee-facing’ web apps, Database GUIs like SQL GUI, Firebase Admin Panel, Operational Database Apps like CRM, Inventory Management, Email Tool

Pricing: 

Plans start at $10/user, be it maker, admin, end-user. Free plans are available for developer teams to explore the tool. Users can build an unlimited number of apps, however, they cannot publish apps in the free plan. 

You can’t make public facing apps. The free plan doesn’t permit you to share apps. You have to pay for every app viewer. 

Jet Admin – Retool Alternative focused on ease of use

Jet Admin is a no code internal tool builder, similar to Retool, with a focus on building front end for distributed data sources. JetAdmin allows the management and visualization of application data with admin panels, dashboards and widgets. It’s simple drag-and-drop interface enables anyone to create the tools they need to manage daily operations, like tracking orders, resolving issues, and monitoring payments. 

Use Cases: 

Build a range of simple employee facing or customer facing tools such as lead management tools or a customer support desk that are powered by your data sources like MongoDB database or Stripe payment system.

Pros:

  1. Intuitive and user friendly interface to build apps
  2. Ready connectors to popular databases and APIs
  3. Jet automatically generates a CRUD app that can be used right away
  4. Flexibility for developers to embed custom components, create HTTP and SQL queries, write JavaScript to make complex transformations
  5. Fast and easy app deployment in a single click. Public or private cloud
  6. Role based and user based permissions to share apps in a controlled fashion
  7. You can build customer/partner/vendor facing tools, however the number of end users you can add is limited

Cons:

  1. Not suitable to build analytics tools as out-of-the-box charts do not cover complex cases
  2. App branding and custom domain is available within the pro plan or higher
  3. The platform does not support frontend business logic (neither with nor without code)
  4. You cannot create offline enabled applications yet
  5. Does not support versioning of apps
  6. You can only create one page or Space. It’s impossible to add a custom logic behind it. No support for mobile apps
  7. Does not have a ready MongoDB connector
  8. Platform currently does not support embedding of apps 

Pricing:

Free plans are available for individuals to explore the tool. This Retool alternative offers two pricing buckets: one for Internal Tools and one for Client Portals. After the Free plan, there are four plans, starting from $24/user for the Internal Tools category and from $0.1/user for the Client Portal category.

DronaHQ – Retool Alternative to build web + mobile apps and tools

DronaHQ is the ideal Retool alternative when you need to build apps for web as well as mobile. 

The user interfaces are richer and responsive which can be accessed across multiple form factors. It has user-friendly and straightforward drag-and-drop functionality to custom-build applications. 

The platform’s usage-based pricing makes it easier for teams of all sizes to get started and scale as they go.

Use Cases:

Supports development of a broad range of rich UI applications. From progressive data capture forms and CRUD apps to interactive dashboards and CRMs. Internal tools and operational apps, database GUIs for SQL/NoSQL databases, customer engagement apps like survey forms, and order capture forms, MVP Designing.

Pros:

  1. Build for web as well as mobile. Users can generate public links to share apps with anyone
  2. Ability to code and create reusable UI components and functions. Developers can easily extend functionality with JavaScript and import JS libraries.
  3. App and data environments allows for team to thoroughly test apps before going live in production and work with non sensitive copy of data
  4. User access permissions and role based permissions to securely share apps with end users of various roles
  5. Over 50 ready connectors to APIs and databases like MongoDB, Airtable, PostgreSQL along with support for custom API integration in a no-code way
  6. Support to write SQL queries in a no-code way 
  7. Support for complex logical branching and Business rules and validations 
  8. Extensive pre-made templates for different kinds of business requirements that are ready to use or can be customized 
  9. ISO 27001 and SOC-II certified, including GDPR compliant

Cons:

  1. Currently not HIPAA compliant but users can deploy their apps on-premises to meet security compliance
  2. You cannot publish apps in the free plan
  3. Custom domain is not available in all plans
  4. Whitelabelling of apps only available in business plan or higher
  5. Only supports cloud deployment in standard and business plans
  6. The platform is not open source

Pricing:

Usage based pricing that supports unlimited users in all plans. Pricing starts at $100 per month for unlimited users. Free developer plan is available but users will have to upgrade to publish their apps.

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

 

UI Bakery – Retool Alternative to build rich UI internal tools

UI Bakery is a low-code platform that allows building internal tools on top of existing data sources. The visual drag’n’drop designer contains a large number of rich components that work out of the box with the data that developers fetch from most well-known SQL databases, HTTP APIs and third-party systems. Predefined event handlers can be used to emit data updates. Developers are able to use certain pre-defined action types to perform CRUD operations, or use custom code to perform data-transformations and other more sophisticated business logic.

Use Cases

The platform is suitable to build simple to moderately complex internal tools on top of data sources like SQL databases, HTTP APIs and Google Sheets. The platform has ready connectors to Salesforce, HubSpot (that many of the Retool Competitors in our list are yet to add). It gives the tool the advantage of building tools around customer support and operations use cases.

  1. Ready Integration with SQL databases, REST APIs, and 3-rd party systems
  2. Ability to write JavaScript code and SQL in actions
  3. A customizable design system allows users to match apps with their branding
  4. Free ready-made internal tools templates for different data sources
  5. Users can deploy and host apps on UI Bakery or custom domains
  6. Automations feature that allows running scheduled jobs or create webhooks
  7. Custom roles and permissions system

Cons:

  1. You can only build web apps for desktop, mobile apps have limited support
  2. You cannot build offline enabled apps
  3. Service does not provide own database
  4. Free plan does not have end-user mode
  5. You need to have basic software development understanding and JavaScript skills to use all the UI Bakery functionality
  6. Branding and custom domain only in enterprise plan
  7. The platform is not open-source

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $49 per 1 developer user, 1 app, and unlimited number of end-users.

Appsmith – Open source retool alternative

Appsmith is a popular open source framework to build admin panels, crud interfaces and workflows and host them in your own domain. While this tool is not as feature heavy as other competitors, it makes for an attractive alternative if you are looking for an open source solution. It is currently free to use. It connects easily to REST APIs, popular databases, and third party apps. Citizen developers and no-coders will find the platform slightly complex to use as it requires coding experience.

Appsmith Pros

  1. A drag-and-drop building interface with predefined widgets: Charts, Checkboxes, Images, Modals, Tables, and more
  2. REST or GraphQL API integration (PostgreSQL, DynamoDB, MongoDB, Firebase, etc.) with an ability to embed JavaScript in a database query
  3. Lodash, Moment, and other JS library connections
  4. Open Source, Currently free 
  5. User roles management directly upon their invitation to your app
  6. 1-click app deployment on Azure, GCP, or Digital Ocean, and the integration with the existing CI/CD pipeline
  7. Real-time in-built team collaboration.
  8. An unlimited number of internal applications you can build and data sources you can connect

Appsmith Cons

  1. You can only design web apps. Apps are not responsive
  2. As with any open source solution, Support is mostly provided by the community only
  3. Requires development experience to use
  4. The interface is not very intuitive and easy to use
  5. No provision to define User-based and Role-based access to apps (End-user of app)
  6. Front end events and action logic can be defined but with code
  7. Currently, there is no option to move apps from a cloud-hosted version to a self-hosted version
  8. You cannot create your own UI components 

Pricing

It is currently free and supports an unlimited number of users. They are yet to announce paid plans for commercial and enterprise use that will unlock more features like granular permissions, custom domain, and app environments.

Internal.io – Retool Alternative to create database GUIs

Internal.io is a no code platform with the core focus on visualizing and making sense of your databases. It allows teams to build internal tools without involving much of the engineering/development team. It makes it easy to create and update internal tools without code or SQL. It has inbuilt CRUD capabilities which link everything in one interface.

It unites everything in a single, powerful interface with built-in CRUD capabilities.

Pros:

  1. Intuitive and user friendly interface to build apps
  2. Ready connectors to popular databases and APIs Create reusable UI components with HTML/CSS, React, Javascript, Angular, Vue
  3. Fast and easy app deployment in a single click. Public or private cloud
  4. In-built team collaboration on tasks and approval workflows
  5. Role based and user based permissions to share apps in a controlled fashion
  6. ISO 27001 and SOC Type 2 certified platform to build secure applications and tools
  7. You can build customer facing tools, however the number of end users you can add is limited

Cons:

  1. App branding and customer domain is available within the pro plan or higher
  2. The platform does not support frontend business logic (neither with nor without code)
  3. You cannot create offline enabled applications yet
  4. You can only create one page or Space. It’s impossible to add a custom logic behind it. No support for mobile apps
  5. You can’t create your own custom components, like in Retool or DronaHQ, for example
  6. It requires knowledge of Javascript to build API and SQL queries
  7. Platform currently does not support embedding of apps 

Pricing

Paid plans start from $25/month per end-user. Free plan is available with limited features and can support upto 5 users and only google sheets can be used as external data source for apps. 

Conclusion – Best Retool Alternatives

There is a whole plethora of tools and platforms that we are yet to cover – Budibase, Forest Admin, AppGyver, Stacker, etc. that help teams and companies build internal tools using a visual drag and drop interface.

All tools excel in certain domains while fall short in other. If you have lots of related data from multiple data sources, and want to churn out comprehensive use cases, start out with Retool trial. If you want to take that up a notch and also build for mobile, explore DronaHQ with the free plan. For simple UI designing that you would like to export, check UI Bakery. To enable semi-technical people build frontend apps, try JetAdmin. Explore Appsmith in the open-source category. There is no one for all. In the end, the best platform will be the one that fits your unique requirements.

Not sure where to start? Get on a call with us and we’ll help you find the optimum solution for your internal tool development.