Articles

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

By

Eugenia Evtushenko

In 2021, low-code and no-code platforms are still continuing their 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 the 2 popular internal tool builders – Retool and UI Bakery.

We’ll cover each platform separately, define how they differ from each other, and what similarities they have. Looking for a perfect internal tool builder for your business? Continue reading.

Retool

Retool internal tools builder
Retool: building interface

Retool is a low-code internal tool. It’s meant to help startups, SMBs and enterprises automate their internal processes. They mostly focus on such industries as retail, media, finances.

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

  • Tables
  • Lists
  • Charts
  • Forms
  • Wizards
  • Maps
  • Modals
  • Calendars
  • Videos, etc.

In Retool, you can create an internal tool in 3 steps:

  1. Connect your data source. 
  2. Build an app using ready-made building blocks or templates. 
  3. Publish it and invite users. Manage user groups and access controls in Settings.

Retool offers you about 40 ready-made templates not to 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, Athena, 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 totally non-tech people. 

To ensure stronger data security, you can download Retool and host it behind your own VPN.

Retool’s pros

  • Rather intuitive UI (however, not without issues).
  • 40+ ready-made dashboards and templates.
  • Wide range of third-party integrations with databases and APIs.
  • Comprehensive documentation, YouTube channel with educational videos, support forum.
  • A free plan allowing you to edit your internal tool.
  • Live demo right on the website.
  • Staging and production environments: you can test your app before publishing it.

Retool’s cons

  • The UI building interface isn’t understandable for some users.
  • Low-code: basic coding skills required to squeeze as much as possible from Retool.
  • A limited free plan: you can’t share your internal tool or publish it.
  • Reliability issues.
  • Malfunctioning responsive design.
  • Slow speed: some users report on the need to work in several tabs at a time to speed up their workflows.
  • The internal tools created in Retool are not friendly to iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

Pricing plans

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

Retool: pricing plans
Retool: pricing plans

Free plan

Connecting to data sources (except Salesforce), app editing, adding queries – all this is possible. In simple words, you can only create and test your internal tool.

Startup plan

You can switch from Editor to User mode. It allows you to look at your internal tool with the user’s eyes. Version history is available to enable you to restore the previous app versions if needed. Salesforce, Oracle, MS SQL Server integrations are also included.

Pro plan

Granular access controls are included in this option. Also, you can keep track of every time you read or write data from your data sources. If in-built components are not enough, you can add the custom ones on your own. 

Enterprise plan

Using Docker, you can install Retool to your computer and use it behind your VPN. Identity management through Okta integration is possible. 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 internal tools builder
UI Bakery: building interface

UI Bakery is a visual internal tool builder meant to save your development time. Built with a convention over configuration paradigm in mind, UI Bakery relieves you from the need to carry out default configuration.

UI Bakery have the following key features: 

  • Autogenerate and automatically configure UI components.
  • Natively connect your internal tool to your data sources via SQL queries, HTTP requests.
  • Add complex business logic, workflows, sequences, conditions.
  • Write custom JavaScript code and connect JavaScript libraries where needed.
  • Build new components using React or jQuery.
  • Debug and test your internal tool, handle errors, 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 use CSS.
  • Bother about npm modules and JavaScript libraries updates.
  • Manually build pipelines and deploy your app.
  • Wrestle with access controls and data privacy.

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

Components you can operate with in UI Bakery: 

  • Tables
  • Forms
  • Details
  • Charts
  • Metrics
  • Button
  • Inputs
  • Trees
  • Images, etc.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Assemble your internal tool UI by drag-and-dropping any of the prebuilt Components. Connect the created Actions to the added Components.
  4. When your app UI and the business logic are ready – publish your internal tool, invite users. Set the user permissions in UI Bakery as you need.

UI Bakery pros

  • Predefined layouts and components like Tables, Maps, Charts, Buttons, Dropdowns, Images, and many more.
  • Pleasant, intuitive and understandable UI building interface.
  • Fair pricing: an unlimited number of developers and users/end-users you can have within one account.
  • Automatic responsive design.
  • Clear data and API connection and configuration workflows.
  • Integration with a range of data sources – databases and APIs (MySQL, Google Sheets, PostgreSQL, HubSpot, Airtable, Stripe, and more).
  • Unlimited number of pages you can add to your internal tool regardless of the plan.
  • 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

  • No free plan, only a free trial.
  • 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 offers free training and onboarding to anyone interested from the very start.

Now, let’s review all the pricing options.

UI Bakery: pricing plans
UI Bakery: pricing plans

Free

It's a forever free plan allowing you to build a multipage 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.

Essentials

Here, you can develop your app and view it in the end-user mode. Different user roles are available. You can also add business logic and workflows.

Business

This plan is suitable for small and midsized businesses. It allows you to develop your internal tool, connect your database to it, control the access to your app by configuring user permissions. You can also add custom components if the out-of-the-box functionality isn't enough. App branding (colors and styles) is available.

Enterprise

Have a specific case you need help with? This plan is for you. The UI Bakery team will show your around, train, and onboard to help you kick off faster. A dedicated support engineer will support you at every step of the app development process. You'll also be able to deploy your app to a custom domain if you need, integrate with SSO providers. Apps white-labelling is included in the plan.

Additionally, UI Bakery has a special offer for startups. It's aimed to help growing businesses focus on their core activities without distracting on building internal tools.

Key differences between Retool and UI Bakery. Summing up

Retool vs UI Bakery
Retool vs UI Bakery: comparison

As you can see, Retool and UI Bakery are very much alike in the set of features they offer for building your internal tool. 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 for integration with a number of databases and third-party APIs.

It’s all about similarities. What about the differences?

  • The templates library of Retool is larger than the one UI Bakery has for now.
  • UI Bakery is affordable than Retool.
  • The UI Bakery building interface is more comfortable, intuitive and understandable based on the users’ feedback.
  • UI Bakery is more reliable and better performing than Retool.
  • Automatic responsive design works better in UI Bakery than in Retool.

As we see, Retool and UI Bakery have a lot in common. Both Retool and UI Bakery can help you automate your internal processes. However, due to higher reliability and performance, UI Bakery might be a more comfortable option to choose.


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

August 25, 2021

Latest articles