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Top 3 Open Source alternatives to Retool

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Eugenia Evtushenko

There’s a range of low-code and no-code frameworks, backend builders, mobile development platforms, and visual internal tools builders available today. Building an admin panel, a user portal, a customer support dashboard, a sales dashboard, or another tool you need can take hours instead of weeks now. 

Retool is a popular internal apps development platform. It’s definitely one of the key options you’ll consider when you start looking for a perfect internal tools builder. Retool has a rich library of more than 50 UI components (Tables, Wizards, Charts, Maps, and more). It greatly simplifies and speeds up your development process. However, a lot of users are driven away by its pricing policy tied to the number of end-users. You have to pay at least $10/month for each user regardless of their role, be it an Admin, an Editor, or a simple Viewer. 

The best Open Source Retool alternatives

In order to avoid overpaying, you can try an Open Source alternative to Retool. For instance, you can choose from Appsmith, Budibase, and ToolJet. These solutions will definitely be much more cost-effective than Retool. Below, we’ve covered each of these Open Source low-code frameworks individually.

Appsmith

Appsmith internal tools builder
Appsmith Open Source low-code framework

Appsmith is a popular Open Source framework for building internal tools and hosting them on your own domain. It allows you to integrate with a number of databases and APIs to build your app on top of the existing data.

Appsmith pros:

  • A drag-and-drop building interface with predefined widgets: Charts, Checkboxes, Images, Modals, Tables, and more.
  • REST or GraphQL API integration (PostgreSQL, DynamoDB, MongoDB, Firebase, etc.) with an ability to embed JavaScript in a database query.
  • Lodash, Moment, and other libraries connection.
  • User roles management directly upon their invitation to your app.
  • 1-click app deployment on Azure, GCP, or Digital Ocean, and the integration with the existing CI/CD pipeline.
  • Real-time in-built team collaboration.
  • Version control (coming soon).
  • An unlimited number of internal applications you can build and data sources you can connect.

Appsmith cons:

  • Support is mostly provided by the community only.
  • Requires development experience to use.
  • The interface is not very intuitive according to users’ feedback. 

Budibase

Budibase business apps creator
Budibase Open Source low-code platform

Budibase is a low-code platform with a self-hosted Open Source version for building business apps. Budibase allows you to create internal tools, admin panels, user portals, and dashboards.

Budibase pros:

  • The created apps are automatically tailored for mobile, tablet, and desktop devices.
  • Data connection via any rest API, data import as a CSV.
  • Granular access control.
  • An ability to add JavaScript code to enrich your application.
  • 20+ triggers and actions for processes automation.
  • App deployment via Kubernetes, Docker, Digital Ocean. 
  • Budibase Cloud option that allows Budibase to manage everything for you.

Budibase cons:

  • Requires some development experience to squeeze as much as possible from the platform.
  • Support is mostly provided by the community only (like in most Open Source platforms).

ToolJet

ToolJet internal tools builder
ToolJet Open Source internal tool builder

ToolJet is an Open Source low-code tools builder allowing you to deliver internal applications and business apps in minutes. It has a special free offering for Open Source projects, and flexible pricing plans.

ToolJet pros:

  • An intuitive drag-and-drop building interface.
  • 30+ pre-built UI components (Tables, Charts, Buttons, etc.).
  • OAuth2 support.
  • Integration with databases (PostgreSQL, MySQL, Cloud Firestore), services (Google Sheets, Airtable, Slack), cloud storages (AWS S3, Google Cloud Storage), and REST APIs.
  • Custom JavaScript code writing.
  • An in-built team collaboration tool.
  • An ability to switch to a mobile layout on small screens. Widgets are properly displayed.
  • Data sources credentials encryption and secure storage.
  • A self-hosted ToolJet option.

ToolJet cons:

  • Support isn’t provided for free.
  • Only up to 2 users and applications are included in a free plan. 

UI Bakery – fast and affordable Retool alternative

Although UI Bakery is not Open Source, it’s still a powerful internal tools builder offering flexible pricing plans. It’s a key Retool competitor today. UI Bakery allows you to build an unlimited number of apps via an aesthetically pleasing building interface with 25+ ready-made UI components (Tables, Buttons, Charts, Graphs, Maps, etc.). Each newcomer gets free training, and can always turn to the documentation with how-to guides thoroughly prepared by the team.

UI Bakery integrates with REST and GraphQL APIs, most well-known databases and third-party systems (MySQL, Google Sheets, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Airtable, Slack, etc). You can build your app functionality simply by writing SQL queries and sending HTTP requests, and deploy your internal tool in several clicks to the UI Bakery or your own domain. Thus, with UI Bakery you have no need to learn any new frameworks, you can simply apply the skills you already have.

All these and other features makes UI Bakery a good competitor not only to Retool but to the Open Source platforms like Budibase, ToolJet, and Appsmith that we've reviewed in the article. If you have any questions and need to clarify whether UI Bakery is a good internal tools builder for you, contact the team to get a free demo.

November 19, 2021

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