Choosing the right platform for building internal tools is essential for your business's efficiency and productivity. With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which tool best fits your requirements. In this article, we will compare low-code platform Retool and no-code platform Noloco, two popular platforms for building internal tools, to help you make an informed decision for your business.
Retool is primarily aimed at proficient software developers and technical teams, focusing on low-code app development. Typical app types built on Retool include CRUD apps, admin panels, database GUIs, and React components. Retool is well-suited for building internal tools but requires a higher degree of technical know-how. It may not be the best choice for users building internal apps intended for non-technical users. For instance, Retool requires you to construct separate, non-connected tools, as opposed to complete apps - which may lead to a potentially confusing and disjointed user interface.
Noloco, on the other hand, is designed for non-developers and offers a no-code environment for building internal tools. It is perfect for creating custom CRMs, project management tools, CRUD apps, admin panels, and simple database GUIs. Noloco features a professional-looking UI and familiar app navigation sidebar, resulting in a more seamless, application-like interface and experience within your internal tool.
Unlike Retool, Noloco includes the necessary features (such as user roles & permissions) and a refined front-end, which supports the development of external-facing tools also. This allows Noloco's customers to tap into a broader range of app use cases, such as create external-facing apps on top of their existing internal tool. A common use case we see among our Noloco customers include internal project management tools with a client portal add-on whereby clients can log in to view their personal project information and easily communicate with their project manager.
Retool offers users with an absolutely positioned canvas featuring a drag-and-drop interface. With an impressive 22 database connectors, a built-in database option, and more than 100 components, Retool enables it's users to build a wide variety of internal tool use cases. Retool Users are also permitted to create custom components using code, deploy on-premises, integrate with Git for version control, and audit access to enhance security. Many of these features have been carefully designed to meet the needs of software developers looking to reduce the amount of time it takes to develop apps and internal tools.
At Noloco, we provide you with a vertically stacked drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create dynamic, data-driven app pages effortlessly, without writing any code. We offer six database connectors and a built-in database option. While custom component development isn’t something we plan on providing as a no-code product, we do offer a wide range of out-of-the-box features to help you create highly functional and professional-looking apps. These include over 13 data display options, an app-like navigation sidebar, pre-built forms, and an array of custom action buttons that can be placed anywhere within your app. Although the self-hosted option is not available right now, we aim to support it in the near future. For app version control, Noloco provides this feature on their Business and Enterprise plans.
When comparing the ease of use between the two platforms, it's crucial to consider that Retool is a low-code tool, while Noloco is a no-code tool. This difference means that the ease of use will vary significantly depending on whether you have a strong technical background or you are a non-technical user exploring a no-code tool for the first time. It's essential to evaluate the skill sets available on your team and the type of applications you need to build when making your decision.
Noloco is designed for users that do not have any experience with code, making it accessible for Founders, CXOs, D-level executives, and heads of business to build powerful internal apps. While you don't need to know how to code to use Noloco, having a basic understanding of at least one relational or no-code database can be helpful. In fact, If you're new to no-code or relational databases databases and/or you don't have a background in code, don't worry, we've got you covered! We've written a whole blog series on the topic to help you get started with the basics.
Last but not least, because Noloco is a no-code tool, it's accessible to everyone. This means that all members on your team can contribute to the internal tool building tasks at your business - taking the pressure off your software engineer who would otherwise be responsible for the majority of these tasks. In fact, we've found that many software engineers love this aspect of Noloco, as it promotes collaboration and shared responsibility across teams.
Retool has a per-user per-month pricing model, not based on monthly active usage. It requires payment for every seat, even if users don't log in during a billing month. The enterprise self-hosted version has a high base cost, and cloud instances may experience performance issues.
Noloco offers competitive pricing for small and medium-sized businesses, especially those requiring enterprise-grade features on a budget. For Internal Tool-only use cases offer a per-user per-month pricing model. Unlike Retool, our pricing is based on active users, which means you'll only be charged for users who login during a billing month, not for all registered internal users in your app.
In addition to our standard internal tool pricing, we currently offer a competitively priced add-on product for external-facing use cases such as client and partner portals. This is set to launch as a standard opt-in pricing model in early May 2023. However, if you're interested in leveraging our tool for apps with higher volumes of external usage before our pricing launches, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll take care of everything. With this offering, Noloco is an excellent choice for businesses developing both internal tools and external-facing apps, including client and partner portals.
Choosing between Retool and Noloco depends on the specific needs and technical expertise of your team. Retool is an excellent choice for proficient software developers and technical teams who require a low-code platform with a large number of features, extensive database connectors, and the ability to build custom components. It is well-suited for large enterprises that need to scale their internal tool development and have the budget for Retool's enterprise version and per seat pricing.
On the other hand, Noloco is a more suitable option for small and medium-sized businesses that require enterprise-grade features, such as advanced roles and permissions. Noloco is designed for non-developers and offers a user-friendly, no-code app building experience. It is an ideal choice for businesses that need to build internal tools that may also have external-facing components, such as a client or partner portal add-on.
Ultimately, the right platform for your business depends on the technical skills of your team, your budget, and the specific functionality you require from your internal tools. By understanding the strengths and limitations of each platform, you can make an informed decision and select the tool that best aligns with your business needs.