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Retool vs UI Bakery: comparison of the 2 powerful low-code internal tool builders

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Eugenia Evtushenko

In 2022, low-code and no-code platforms are still on the rise. More and more app development platforms tailored to fit various users’ needs enter the market. There are website builders, web app builders, mobile app builders, backend development platforms, internal tool builders, and more.

We’re going to review 2 popular internal tools builders: Retool and UI Bakery.

We’ll cover each platform separately, define their differences and similarities. Looking for a perfect internal tools builder for your business? Read on!

Retool

Retool internal tools builder
Retool: building interface

Retool is a low-code internal tools building platform. It’s meant to help enterprises, SMBs, and startups automate their operations. Though the platform is industry agnostic, it suits different company profiles, as big organizations usually must process a lot of data.

In Retool, you can create an internal tool in 4 steps:

  • Connect your data source
  • Build an app using ready-made components or templates 
  • Use queries to feed data from data sources to components.
  • Publish your app and invite users

The components you can use to build your internal tool in Retool are:

  • Tables
  • Various inputs for:
  1. Text
  2. Numbers
  3. Selects
  4. Calendars
  5. Other special data types like signature, microphone, files, etc.
  • Buttons and links
  • Charts
  • Presentation components
  • Containers and forms
  • Navigation components
  • Integration and custom components

Retool offers about 40 built-in templates to not start from scratch. You can drag and drop any building block to your app, and connect it to almost anything with REST, GraphQL, gRPC API; databases like MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Google Sheets; APIs like Twilio, Stripe, Jira, Slack, and more.

You can write SQL or POST queries to fetch your data. You need to have some SQL skills and know JavaScript to utilize all the Retool capabilities. Retool is not suitable for entirely non-tech people. 

For additional data security, you can download Retool and host it behind your own firewall.

Retool’s pros

  • Rather intuitive UI (however, not without issues)
  • Large number of pre-built components
  • Large number of native integrations with databases and third-party systems
  • Modules feature with the ability to reuse groups of components and queries
  • Version control with Git
  • Comprehensive documentation, YouTube channel with educational videos, support forum
  • A free plan allowing you to build and use internal tools for up to 5 end-users
  • Staging and production environments: you can test your app before publishing it
  • 40+ ready-made dashboards and templates
  • Live demo right on the website.

Retool’s cons

  • tool’s cons
  • The pricing scales quickly as you add more users
  • The cost of an enterprise license is extremely high
  • Not possible to create apps with multiple pages
  • Multi-step queries are not easy to create
  • Some ‌users report performance issues for large apps
  • The queries in the cloud version could take a long time
  • Retool’s cheapest plan has an edit button for all end-users
  • The UI building interface is not very intuitive for some users
  • Low-code: basic coding skills required to squeeze as much as possible from Retool.

Pricing plans

Let’s review the pricing options implying you’re using the Retool’s domain to host your internal tool.

Retool: pricing plans

Free plan

Includes: connecting to data sources (except Salesforce), app editing and using (up to 5 users in total), adding queries. End-user mode is available, however, all users have an admin role so they all can edit apps and manage users. This means that any user can theoretically modify and break your app or access DB credentials.

Team plan

This plan allows adding more than 5 users, but you will need to pay for every user seat. As in a Free plan, there’s no use-only role, so any user can break your app. The additional features are environments and version history.

Pro plan

Granular access controls are included in this option. You can finally assign use-only roles and create permission groups. Also, you can monitor the important activities and actions with audit logs. Besides, on this plan you can use modules which are groups of reusable components and queries.

Enterprise plan

Using Docker, you can install Retool to your server and have full control over your data. SSO is available through Okta, SAML, etc. You can also control your internal tool versions using Git repository. Priority support is guaranteed, and moreover, you get the right to request a custom data source connector.

UI Bakery

UI Bakery: building interface

UI Bakery is a platform for building internal tools using a visual designer and low-code  approach on top of existing data sources. UI Bakery empowers developers with efficiency and helps to save a lot of development time by automating repetitive tasks.

UI Bakery offers the following key features: 

  • Auto-generate common sets of functionalities (like database CRUD) using generators 
  • Natively connect your internal tool to your data sources via SQL queries, HTTP requests
  • Add complex business logic, workflows, sequences, conditions using multi-step actions
  • Run scheduled workflows and integrate with other systems using automations feature
  • Write custom JavaScript code and connect JavaScript libraries where needed
  • Build new components using React, Angular, Vue, or jQuery
  • Debug and test your internal tool, handle errors, and receive error notifications
  • Automatically publish your internal tool and easily invite end-users.

With UI Bakery, you have no need to:

  • Develop a UI from scratch and fight CSS
  • Bother about npm modules and JavaScript libraries’ updates
  • Manually build deployment pipelines to ship your app
  • Wrestle with access controls and data privacy.

Since UI Bakery is low-code (not no-code), you need to have basic software development understanding (how to make requests to servers, operate with variables, etc.). UI Bakery is more suitable for use by backend developers, database architects, and data engineers. 

You can build your internal tool in UI Bakery in 4 steps:

  • Connect your data source. It can be a database (PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, MS SQL Server, and more), a business app (Stripe, Hubspot, Airtable, Salesforce, Twilio, etc.), or a custom HTTP API.
  • Load and send your data, add navigations, conditions, business logic, make API calls using Actions. Add the custom pieces of code where you need to modify your app.
  • Assemble your internal tool UI by drag-and-dropping any of the pre-built components. Connect the created Actions to the added components.
  • When your app UI and the business logic are ready, publish your internal tool and invite users. Set the user permissions in UI Bakery as you need.

Components you can operate with in UI Bakery: 

  • Tables
  • Detail cards and forms
  • Charts
  • Metrics
  • Button and links
  • Various kinds of inputs
  • Trees
  • Images, etc.

UI Bakery pros

  • Fair pricing: an unlimited number of end-users you can invite within a fixed fee plan
  • Great performance of the builder and published apps
  • Enterprise self-hosted plan is not as expensive as Retool’s
  • Built-in convention over configuration approach where the platform tries to understand data provided and auto-generate functionality to reduce the number of actions a developer needs to execute
  • Scheduling back-end jobs and creating webhooks using automations
  • Multi-step actions using workflows
  • Ability to create multi-page apps regardless of the plan
  • High-order components like tables, maps, charts, buttons, dropdowns, images, and many more
  • Pleasant, intuitive and understandable UI building interface
  • Integration with a range of data sources – databases and APIs (MySQL, Google Sheets, PostgreSQL, HubSpot, Airtable, Stripe, and more)
  • Regularly updated tutorials, guides, videos, and platform documentation
  • Growing library of ready-made templates and dashboards
  • Caring and quickly responding customer support team
  • Dark theme (with concern for your eyes).

UI Bakery cons

  • Free plan only for app building
  • No self-checkout for the self-hosted plan
  • No version control in Git (planned feature)
  • Not as many pre-built components as Retool has
  • Not as many native data source connections as Retool has
  • The need to have basic web development understanding and JavaScript skills to use all the UI Bakery functionality
  • No ability to build mobile apps with UI Bakery.

Pricing plans

Firstly, it's important to mention that UI Bakery has amazing tech support that simplifies onboarding and makes it easier to start with the platform.

Now, let’s review all the pricing options.

UI Bakery: pricing plans

Free

It's a forever free plan allowing you to build a multi-page application in the app development mode. You can connect as many data sources as you need and use actions to send queries to your database.

Individual

In this plan, you get the ability to invite as many end-users as you want to the app that you’ve built. There’s no per-user fee and these users will not have access to the app building mode, hence will not be able to break your app. This plan also includes access to the Workflow automations feature.

Plus

This plan is suitable for small teams that are scaling. You can build 3 apps for your unlimited end users (with unlimited pages). You have 3 workspace users, meaning you can add 3 developers to the platform. Moreover, this plan comes with version control and custom components.

Team

Team plan comes into play when you need to build lots of apps using UI Bakery and have no limitations to their number. Your included workspace user quota is 10, but you can buy additional ones for $19/month. Additionally, you get access to app and data-source environments and audit logs. Besides, you can create custom roles for your workspace users, which can be either developers of your apps or, for instance, managers that need restricted access to some specific apps or pages.

Enterprise

This plan is mainly used when you need to self-host UI Bakery in your own dedicated environment. However, UI Bakery can do that for you using their managed service offering. In case you self-host the product, you get full control over your data, can use the custom domain, white-label the app, integrate with SSO providers, and so on. A dedicated support engineer will support you at every step of the app development process. 

Key differences between Retool and UI Bakery. Summing up

Retool vs UI Bakery: comparison

Obviously, Retool and UI Bakery are very much alike in the set of features they offer for building your internal tool. But what about their differences?

Key differences Retool vs UI Bakery:

  • At the time of writing, Retool has a larger data source and component library. UI Bakery has the ones that are most commonly used.
  • UI Bakery is more affordable than Retool, especially if you plan to self-host the platform.
  • UI Bakery has a better developer experience and builder performance
  • Retool is more suitable for large enterprises with their reusability and testing features
  • UI Bakery allows to create scheduled workflows and webhooks which Retool doesn’t have at the time of writing

As we see, Retool and UI Bakery have a lot in common. Both platforms require some tech expertise and JavaScript knowledge. Both provide you with a range of ready-made building blocks to simplify your work. Retool and UI Bakery allow integrations with multiple databases and third-party APIs. Both of the tools can help you automate your internal processes. However, because of its pricing, Retool might not be the best option for organizations that do not require all the large enterprise features but still want to speed up their internal tools development with a low-code platform. 

 

If you still need some help to make a choice, don’t hesitate to schedule a call to see how UI Bakery works.

Created:
August 25, 2021
Updated:
August 2, 2022

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