The low-code approach allows citizen developers to create software applications using ready-made blocks. With low code, teams can launch their projects "remarkably fast," even with a zero budget. One of the most popular low-code editors in the market is Retool.
Retool is a next-generation low-code tool with a plethora of pre-built components. So far, Retool has mainly focused on helping develop internal applications for companies of various sizes. However, the editor is also great for other use cases, such as delivering internal demos, product mock-ups, and powerful data analysis.
In all, Retool frees engineers from trivial tasks so they can concentrate on more important things in their backlog. As guys from Toplyne put it: “Retool: Saving developers from internal tools since 2017”. Jokes aside, it’s not that unusual when development teams have myriad tasks and requests to deal with. For instance, Retool's report indicates that engineers spend 30% of their time building and managing internal tools. No wonder ops teams may wait for ages before their internal tool request goes into production.
In that regard, Retool makes all the difference. Up to date, many big players like Amazon, Pinterest, and Coursera have already tried the platform to create and maintain internal tools.
Retool provides 90+ components that you can use to build different apps for back-office, sales, ops, support, HR and other teams and departments. You can add, delete, or duplicate components, change component properties, change component order, and nest components inside other components using a drag-and-drop editor.
- Retool lets you group components into modules. For instance, you can create a module for various teams and processes within your organization. What's more, you can use these modules in different parts of your app without recreating the component each time you need it.
- Retool allows the creation of custom components. This means you can build any app component you need. However, building custom components means extending Retool to meet your precise needs.
- Connecting databases. Retool has pre-built connectors that make it easy to connect to any database, including MySQL, MongoDB, Postgres, and Amazon Redshift. The platform also allows writing SQL queries.
- Connecting APIs. Besides, Retool provides pre-built connectors for popular APIs, such as Salesforce, Slack, Stripe, Twilio, and Zendesk. If you need to connect to other APIs, you can use Retool's HTTP component to make a custom call to an API. However, you still need some technical knowledge, so don't expect something as simple as Zapier.
Perhaps the main benefit is that Retool eliminates unnecessary low-level engineering. This may not sound like a revelation, but Retool’s a game changer for real. The platform is very customizable and lets you move very fast.
Retool is a cloud-hosted SaaS product. However, if you buy on Prem, you can host it on your infrastructure using Docker.
Retool has a per-user pricing model and four pricing plans.
Depending on hosting, Retool has four pricing plans - Free (up to 5 users), Team, Business, and Enterprise. However, Retool for Startups is free for early-stage startups.
Pros & cons
If you intend to create many internal tools (budget-wise, Retool might not be the best option if you need just one or two apps), automate business processes, or simply test some ideas, give Retool a go.
- Convenient drag-and-drop interface;
- A lot of templates and integrations to choose from;
- Integration with Git;
- Convenient way to install a self-hosted version.
- Retool still requires some coding and technical knowledge;
- Some important features like white labeling are only included in the most expensive plan;
- Due to the single-page app model, big applications are very hard to maintain.
If the budget is an issue, you can try other open-source alternatives to Retool. I recommend choosing from Appsmith, UI Bakery, Budibase, or ToolJet. These solutions are way more cost-effective compared to Retool.
Considering all the ins and outs, Retool is a great tool for building internal business applications really fast. No wonder its popularity is growing: in July this year, Retool raised $45M at a $3.2B valuation.
It is worth mentioning that developers love Retool too. Here are some reviews:
“Building a custom dashboard in-house for your customer support? Have you thought of UI/UX, access control, staging vs. production environment? Yep, thought so. Better use Retool instead. Thank me later”.
“I just built two internal admin dashboards in 45 minutes. For real. All thanks to Retool. Every single indie hacker should be using this. Wow. The free plan is generous too”.
“I actually believe Retool is one of the best products I’ve used for a while. It enables our SaaS team to do so much when we have to begin scaling our processes. Goodbye to the legacy admin tools I never enjoyed maintaining”.
This way, powered by the platform, thousands of developers can spend more time on more challenging (and non-trivial) tasks while internal teams are still getting their tools. It looks like it's a win-win. Thank you, Retool!
Nowadays, application development without coding is synonymous with low code. The development of no-code tools is a significant trend that allows more people to create products, launch online startups, and solve problems of different consumer groups. However, sometimes you need a hand to support these activities.
Do you look for low code/no code development experts? With more than seven years of low-code development experience, we help companies develop robust applications that cater to unique business needs. Our consultant team provides expert advice on low-code platforms for companies willing to innovate and helps to determine your low-code strategy.
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