Whether you're in the process of evaluating Retool for the first time or you're a current Retool user seeking alternatives due to concerns about functionality, performance, or pricing, you've come to the right place. Our team has conducted extensive research within the internal tools development space and meticulously ranked the top 5 alternatives to Retool in 2023. These rankings are based on various crucial factors, including product functionality, generative AI capabilities, extensibility with code, enterprise readiness, pricing, maintenance costs, security, and customer support.
5 Leading Retool Alternatives & Competitors in 2023
The internal tooling landscape in 2023 has witnessed a significant transformation. It has evolved beyond traditional App Builders to encompass powerful Workflows and Scheduled Jobs capabilities, introduced by several top vendors in the industry.
What is Retool?
Retool is a comprehensive development platform designed for creating custom internal software. The company was established in 2017, making it a well-established player in the field of internal tooling.
Drag & Drop Application Builder: Retool excels in offering a user-friendly drag-and-drop application builder, further enriched by a diverse library of pre-designed UI components.
Integration Library: Retool provides an extensive integration library, simplifying the process of connecting to databases and APIs. This allows businesses to effortlessly access their data sources.
Granular Permissions (RBAC): Retool places a strong emphasis on security through robust role-based access controls (RBAC). This feature allows for finely-tuned access to tools, ensuring data integrity.
Version Control: Retool seamlessly integrates with version control systems through Git syncing, empowering users to create, preview, and manage different versions of their projects with ease.
Enterprise Features: For enterprise-level users, Retool offers a suite of advanced features. This includes Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities, comprehensive audit logging, and the support of a dedicated enterprise team.
Native Mobile Apps: For those interested in mobile app development, Retool Mobile is a dedicated solution. It enables the creation of native iOS and Android apps within the Retool environment.
Limitations of Retool:
Despite its prominence, Retool is not without its limitations. As of July 2023, some key shortcomings are as follows:
Performance Issues: Many Retool applications face performance issues stemming from browser-based code execution, single-step queries, and the absence of global edge caching.
Limited Workflows & Scheduled Jobs: The Workflow feature is still in beta, with limitations in its functionality, particularly for those who prefer to self-host Retool.
SQL-Only Generative AI: While Retool offers generative AI, it's restricted to SQL only. This limits developers who need AI assistance for other languages, integrations, or mock data generation.
Legacy On-Premise Deployment: Retool's on-premise deployment model is complex and resource-intensive. This distracts businesses from leveraging new features and security updates, often necessitating substantial resource allocation.
Pricing and Fees: Retool's pricing model, combined with platform fees and user minimums for self-hosting, can make it prohibitively expensive for many organizations.
Slow Feature Rollouts: The pace of feature development and rollout, especially for on-premise offerings, can slow down businesses seeking to embrace the latest internal tooling technologies.
Closed Source Code: Retool's code is closed source, which means it cannot be audited by security teams. This lack of transparency also affects its extensibility.
US-Cloud Only: The limitation of hosting Retool Cloud in the US can degrade performance for businesses with users or data centers located outside of the US.
To explore each of these limitations further and gain a better understanding of why many companies are exploring alternatives to Retool, read on below.
The Top 5 Alternatives to Retool in 2023
In the landscape of alternatives to Retool in 2023, ILLA Cloud emerges as the frontrunner, surpassing its competitors with its rich feature suite, advanced generative AI capabilities, robust code extensibility, self-hosted agent architecture, and a steadfast focus on enterprise-level security and scalability for mission-critical applications. Additionally, we'll delve into Appsmith, UI Bakery, DronaHQ, and Internal.io as formidable options for those considering alternatives to Retool, particularly catering to the SMB sector. Each of these alternatives boasts its unique strengths and drawbacks, explored in depth within this article.
1. ILLA Cloud
In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud services in 2023, ILLA Cloud emerges as a groundbreaking and transformative solution. ILLA Cloud is not just another cloud service provider; it represents a shift in how organizations harness the power of the cloud to drive innovation, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Of course, ILLA Cloud Viewer is free, after all, Retool’s Viewer is charged and very expensive.
Advantages of ILLA Cloud:
- 1. Cutting-Edge Security: ILLA Cloud prioritizes security, implementing state-of-the-art measures to safeguard your data. With encryption, multi-factor authentication, and advanced threat detection, your information is protected from evolving cyber threats.
- 2. Global Reach: In an interconnected world, ILLA Cloud offers a global network of data centers. This means your applications and data are closer to your users, reducing latency and ensuring a seamless user experience, no matter where they are located.
- 3. Scalability on Demand: ILLA Cloud's infrastructure is designed to grow with you. Whether your needs expand gradually or rapidly, our services can scale to meet demand, ensuring your operations continue to run smoothly.
- 4. Cost-Efficiency: We understand the importance of cost-effectiveness. ILLA Cloud offers flexible pricing models, allowing you to pay only for the resources you use. This ensures you get the most value from your cloud investment.
- 5. Robust Ecosystem: ILLA Cloud provides a wide array of interconnected services. From hosting to data management, artificial intelligence, and more, our ecosystem offers a comprehensive suite of tools to support your business needs.
Disadvantages of ILLA Cloud:
- 1. Limited Legacy System Integration: While ILLA Cloud excels in providing cutting-edge cloud solutions, it may face challenges when integrating with older legacy systems. Compatibility issues could arise when trying to connect with legacy software.
- 2. Learning Curve: Transitioning to a new cloud service can be complex. Your team may require time to adapt to ILLA Cloud's unique features and ecosystem. Training and onboarding could be needed for a smooth transition.
- Service Outages: Like any cloud service provider, ILLA Cloud is not immune to occasional service outages or disruptions. While redundancy measures are in place, these interruptions can impact your operations.
- 3. Dependency on Internet Connectivity: Cloud services depend on internet connectivity. In regions with unreliable or slow internet connections, using ILLA Cloud might lead to performance and accessibility issues.
- 4. Data Transfer Costs: If your data transfer requirements are substantial, data transfer costs can accumulate. You should carefully consider these costs, especially if you're dealing with large data volumes.
ILLA Cloud presents a compelling option for businesses looking to harness the power of the cloud. With its strong focus on security, scalability, and global reach, it offers numerous advantages. However, challenges related to legacy system integration, a learning curve, potential service outages, and data transfer costs should also be carefully considered before making the transition. Ultimately, the suitability of ILLA Cloud for your organization depends on your specific needs and priorities.
Appsmith is a dynamic and open-source internal tooling platform designed to empower users to build custom internal applications, dashboards, and workflows with ease. Here's a closer look at its advantages and disadvantages:
Open-Source Flexibility: Appsmith is an open-source platform, which means it's free to use and offers extensive flexibility for customization. Developers can adapt and expand its capabilities according to their unique requirements.
Rapid Application Development: Appsmith provides a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and a variety of pre-built UI components. This accelerates the application development process, reducing the time and effort needed to create internal tools.
Diverse Data Integration: Appsmith offers robust integration capabilities, allowing users to connect with various data sources, including databases and APIs. This versatility ensures that you can work with your existing data systems seamlessly.
Community Support: Appsmith has a growing developer community on platforms like GitHub. This community-driven approach fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing, and continuous improvement, making it an engaging environment for users and developers.
Flexible Deployment Options: Appsmith supports both cloud-based and fully on-premise deployments, making it adaptable to different organizational needs. This flexibility is particularly valuable for businesses with specific security or compliance requirements.
Limited Workflow Support: Unlike some alternatives, Appsmith currently lacks support for automated workflows and scheduled jobs. This could be a drawback for organizations heavily reliant on these features for their internal processes.
Growing Pains: While Appsmith's community is growing, it's still a relatively newer player in the internal tooling market. As a result, it may not offer the same level of maturity, documentation, and third-party integrations as more established platforms.
Learning Curve: Despite its user-friendly features, there may still be a learning curve, particularly for users who are new to the platform or internal tool development in general. It might take time to become proficient in utilizing all of its features effectively.
Limited Mobile App Support: Appsmith primarily focuses on web applications. It doesn't offer native support for building mobile apps for iOS or Android. However, it does enable the creation of mobile-responsive web applications.
In conclusion, Appsmith is a powerful open-source platform for developing internal tools and applications. Its flexibility, rapid development capabilities, and community support make it an attractive option. However, the absence of workflow support, the platform's relative newness, and the limited support for mobile apps may influence your decision, depending on your specific needs and preferences.
3. UI Bakery
UI Bakery is a user-friendly internal tooling platform that simplifies the process of creating custom internal applications, dashboards, and interfaces. Below, we'll delve into its advantages and disadvantages:
- Low-Code Development: UI Bakery adopts a low-code approach, making it accessible to users with varying technical backgrounds. You can design and build internal tools with minimal coding, reducing the need for extensive programming skills.
- Drag-and-Drop Interface: The platform offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to create UI elements and layouts effortlessly. This accelerates the application development process and ensures a smooth user experience.
- Integration Capabilities: UI Bakery supports seamless integration with popular databases, APIs, and external services. This feature enables you to connect your applications to various data sources, streamlining data management.
- Pre-Built Templates: The platform provides a collection of pre-designed templates and widgets that you can use as a foundation for your internal applications. These templates help save time and maintain a consistent design across projects.
- Data Visualization: UI Bakery includes data visualization components, enabling you to represent and analyze data effectively. This is especially useful for creating dashboards and reports.
- Limited Customization: While UI Bakery offers a straightforward development process, it might not accommodate highly customized or complex applications. Users with advanced development requirements may find it restrictive.
- Not Open Source: Unlike some alternatives, UI Bakery is not open-source. This means that its codebase is not accessible for extensive customization or self-hosting, which could be a concern for organizations with specific security or compliance needs.
- Pricing Model: The platform's pricing model may not be suitable for all businesses. Depending on your usage and project requirements, the costs could add up. It's essential to carefully assess the pricing structure to ensure it aligns with your budget.
- Learning Curve: While UI Bakery is designed to be user-friendly, there can still be a learning curve, especially for users new to low-code development. It might take time to become proficient in utilizing all the features effectively.
- Mobile App Limitations: UI Bakery primarily focuses on web applications and may not provide extensive support for building native mobile applications. If your organization heavily relies on mobile interfaces, this limitation could be a drawback.
In summary, UI Bakery offers a convenient and low-code approach to internal tool development. Its user-friendly interface, integration capabilities, and pre-built templates make it a compelling choice. However, its limitations in terms of customization, being a closed-source platform, pricing, and the focus on web applications should be considered when evaluating it for your specific use case and organizational needs.
DronaHQ is a comprehensive internal tooling platform tailored for enterprises. Below, we'll explore its advantages and disadvantages to help you understand its capabilities and limitations:
- Low-Code Development: DronaHQ adopts a low-code approach, allowing users with varying levels of technical expertise to design and create internal applications. This promotes collaboration between business users and IT teams.
- Multi-Channel Deployment: DronaHQ supports multi-channel deployment, meaning you can build applications that work seamlessly on web browsers, mobile devices (iOS and Android), and as progressive web apps (PWAs). This flexibility ensures your applications can reach a wide audience.
- Integration Capabilities: The platform offers a robust set of integration tools, including connectors for popular databases and APIs. This simplifies the process of connecting your applications to various data sources and third-party services.
- Customization: DronaHQ provides extensive customization options, allowing you to tailor applications to your organization's specific needs. This includes creating custom workflows, business logic, and user interfaces.
- Security Features: DronaHQ places a strong emphasis on security. It includes features like user authentication, data encryption, and role-based access control to ensure that your applications and data are protected.
- Learning Curve: While DronaHQ is designed for ease of use, there may still be a learning curve, especially for those new to low-code development. Training and onboarding might be necessary to utilize the platform effectively.
- Cost: DronaHQ's pricing structure may not be suitable for smaller businesses or startups. The costs can add up, and you should carefully evaluate your budget and usage requirements.
- Limited Offline Access: DronaHQ primarily operates online, which means applications might have limitations when working offline. If your organization relies heavily on offline functionality, this could be a drawback.
- Complex Use Cases: While DronaHQ can handle many internal application needs, extremely complex use cases might require additional development effort and customization, potentially extending the time required to deploy applications.
- Support and Documentation: Some users have reported that DronaHQ's support and documentation could be more comprehensive. Improved support resources and documentation would be beneficial, especially for users encountering technical challenges.
In summary, DronaHQ is a powerful platform for enterprise-focused internal tool development. Its strengths in low-code development, multi-channel deployment, and robust integration capabilities make it a suitable choice for businesses with diverse internal application requirements. However, potential challenges include a learning curve, pricing considerations, limited offline functionality, and the need for robust support and documentation for users. Careful evaluation based on your specific enterprise needs is recommended when considering DronaHQ.
ToolJet provides custom open-source solutions for developing essential internal tools that are integral to your business processes. With ToolJet, you can create complex front-end interfaces without the need for extensive knowledge of CSS, React, or even HTML.
What You Can Achieve with ToolJet:
- HR Management Systems
- E-commerce Refund Applications
- Coupon Code Managers
- Personal Job Application Trackers
- CRMs (Customer Relationship Management)
- Bug Tracker Applications
Top 5 Features of ToolJet:
- Over 35 Pre-built UI Components: Design your front-end through a simple drag-and-drop interface with access to a wide range of UI components.
- Redux-like State Inspector: Assemble your application quickly with a state inspector that simplifies the process.
- Import Custom Components: Expand your options by importing custom components to tailor your solutions.
- Integration with 100+ Tools: Seamlessly connect with over 100 different tools and services to enhance your applications.
- Collaborate with Your Team: Work together with your team to build powerful internal tools that meet your specific needs.
Limitations of ToolJet:
- Paid Support: Note that support services come at a cost.
- Free Plan Limits: The free plan is limited to two users and a set number of applications.
Please note that the details provided are based on information available up to September 2021. For the most current information on ToolJet's offerings and features, please visit their official website or refer to the latest available resources.
Exploring the Reasons to Seek Alternatives to Retool
In your search for alternatives to Retool, you might encounter a range of reasons motivating individuals and organizations to explore other options. Below, we outline some of the key shortcomings and limitations of Retool, shedding light on why some users seek alternative solutions:
- Limited Extensibility with Code:
- Limited Support for Custom Components: While Retool offers Custom Components, they come with constraints. Styles are confined to iframes, making it challenging to build custom UI elements like modals and slideouts. Each custom component operates within a separate sandbox, hampering shared code and complicating state management.
- Poor Developer Experience: The development of custom components in Retool is confined to a single HTML file, which can lead to a less-than-optimal developer experience, particularly when compared to more flexible approaches.
- Poor Performance:
- Single-Step Queries: Retool executes application queries as single steps, necessitating data transfer for subsequent processing. This results in additional network requests and data traffic.
- Lack of Global Edge Caching: The absence of global edge caching in Retool can increase loading times and hinder overall application performance.
- Limited Workflows & Scheduled Jobs:
- Retool offers workflow capabilities, but as of July 2023, this feature is still in beta. Its functionality is limited and is exclusively available for Retool Cloud users, excluding self-hosted deployments. Workflow endpoints follow a "fire-and-forget" model, making them less suitable for replacing REST APIs. The flowchart canvas used for workflow design may present usability challenges.
- SQL-Only Generative AI:
- Retool's AI capabilities are primarily focused on SQL generation. This narrows its usefulness for developers who rely on generative AI for various languages and functionalities.
- Burdens of Legacy On-Premise Deployments:
- Self-hosting Retool often involves resource-intensive on-premise deployments, adding complexity to maintaining and upgrading the platform. Multi-region or multi-cloud requirements may further amplify these challenges.
- Expensive Software & Platform Fees:
- Retool's pricing model may be cost-prohibitive for many organizations, particularly those with a substantial user base. The absence of key features in the free tier and additional fees for self-hosted deployments can add to the expenses.
- Slow Feature Rollout for On-Premise:
- Retool has been criticized for slow feature rollout, especially for on-premise customers. This can lead to delays in accessing new features and essential bug fixes.
- Closed Source Code:
- Retool operates as a closed-source platform, which raises concerns about code audits and extensibility. Users are dependent on Retool for implementing new features and updates.
- US-Cloud Only:
- Retool Cloud is exclusively hosted in the US, which can degrade performance for users and data centers located outside of the US due to multiple roundtrips for data and application retrieval.
These limitations collectively contribute to organizations and individuals seeking alternatives to Retool, hoping to find solutions that better align with their specific development needs and operational requirements.
ILLA Cloud - The #1 Retool Alternative
In your quest to discover the ideal alternative to Retool, ILLA Cloud emerges as the number one contender. ILLA Cloud excels in various aspects, positioning it as a robust choice for users in search of a comprehensive internal tooling platform.
ILLA Cloud stands out as the primary alternative to Retool, offering a rich set of features and advantages that cater to the diverse needs of developers and enterprises. Its strong focus on code extensibility, enterprise-ready architecture, and generative AI capabilities sets it apart as a powerful choice for building custom internal applications and tools. While it has a few limitations, its rapid growth and flexibility in pricing make it a compelling option for organizations seeking a reliable and scalable internal tooling platform.
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