ToolsPublished January 23, 2024

Why Glide is the Retool Alternative You Need to Build Business Software Faster Without Coding Limitations

Help everyone on your team create custom software to power your most important workflows

Wren Noble

Wren Noble

Head of Content

Why Glide is the Retool Alternative You Need to Build Business Software Faster Without Coding Limitations

Your business software development platform should remove bottlenecks for your team, not create them.

When you build custom software strategically, it can increase your team’s productivity, streamline your workflows, and free you from development delays and bloated off-the-shelf solutions. However, if you have a platform that’s a poor fit for your team’s needs, you can end up with slower processes and more maintenance than necessary.

In a skilled developer’s hands, Retool can be a great platform for building mission-critical business applications. However, those without coding experience won’t be able to build even basic tools on the platform.

Retool is a great product, especially if you already know languages like Javascript. But there are more flexible tools available that will give you the same level of power while truly enabling your team as citizen developers.

Glide is the fastest way to build remarkable interfaces on top of your business data without development or design skills. Both developers and non-developers can use it to build powerful web apps. You can create portals, dashboards, and CRMs that improve your business processes and enable workflow automations.

By getting into the details, we can see how Glide empowers you to create more effective solutions for your team and your business.

Create beautiful apps yourself, no coding needed

Glide gives you the power to design and customize your own internal tools, regardless of your level of experience with software development. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface, prebuilt UI components, and extensive library of templates enable you to create a polished and effective app without having to write a single line of code. 

Retool is a powerful internal tool builder primarily intended for developers building stand-alone CRUD apps, admin panels, database GUIs, and React components. You have to be a decently experienced developer to succeed with a low code platform like Retool. Even some IT folks with basic coding skills have reported struggling with its steep learning curve and extensive customization options.

Glide is a true no-code platform that enables users to create interconnected web apps on top of a spreadsheet backend like Google Sheets or SQL. Using Glide, you can incorporate features like AI automation to improve your productivity or integrations to connect to the other business software you use at work.

Glide makes it faster to build apps for developers and non-developers alike. Manual coding will always be time-consuming, no matter how experienced you are. Glide’s prebuilt functionality and simple point-and-click interface make it possible to get from design to development in days. 

Adapt to any device without extra work

It’s also important that your business software is accessible across all the devices your team uses at work — computers, smartphones, and tablets. The more flexible your app, the more likely it is to do its job. 

Retool specializes in internal tools, primarily for desktop-based use cases. You will need design resources if you want a modern front-end experience. To create apps for many devices, you have to build and design each version, creating your mobile app and desktop version separately.

Glide web applications are adaptive by default, with self-designing layouts that work seamlessly across devices. You simply build your app once, and it automatically adapts in real-time. The result is a unified user experience with minimal design work required on your end.

Build apps you can count on for reliability, stability, and speed

You have to be able to trust your software when you’re relying on it for essential business functions. Slow apps, or apps that crash your browser, are more likely to be abandoned by users. An app that doesn’t get used can’t help your team. 

Retool’s low code development involves a high level of customization, and its apps can use large datasets, but it isn’t always able to scale performance to power those features. Both Gartner and G2 surveys report consistent problems with speed, bugginess, app performance, and stability. Its browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) can be limiting and slow, although they have made some improvements recently to improve load time. 

Glide is built with scalable performance in mind. Glide Data Grid, which powers Glide's native Data Editor, is a free and open-source project maintained by both our team and a growing community of contributors, including developers from Snowflake and Adobe. As a highly performant React data grid, Glide Data Grid supports millions of rows and hundreds of thousands of updates per second, ensuring enterprise-grade speed, efficiency, and stability for your apps.

Slow, buggy tools cause friction in your workflows and negatively impact the utility of the apps you build. When you build with Glide, users simply pull up your app on their phone, tablet, or computer, quickly perform their intended task, and continue on with their work. The speed and reliability of your Glide app are key to getting you the productivity benefits you need from your internal tools.

Avoid engineering bottlenecks, helping all your teams work faster

If your internal app development platform is inaccessible, your non-technical team members will have to rely on your engineering team every time they need to update their tools. Neither team wants to do that. Engineers have other projects on their plates that they need to be able to focus on. The teams using your business apps don’t want to have to wait for support tickets to go through.

Using a no code platform like Glide means non-technical teams can execute a fix themselves and quickly get back to work. You will get more of a productivity boost from the tools you’ve built when the people using them can keep working without interruption. This also takes a whole category of work off of engineering or IT’s plate, letting them focus on more mission-critical tasks. 

Reduce technical debt

Code will always need to be updated eventually. When it’s time for updating, you’ll need to dedicate engineering resources and sprints to get it done. Retool’s code-based platform leaves you exposed to more technical debt and requires continued maintenance to stay functional.

Glide maintains and updates its platform regularly. When the platform is updated, the design and structure of your apps are automatically updated without you having to put in any work. The design of your Glide apps will always look modern, and you’ll continually get access to expanded features and stability as technology advances.

Building with code in Retool means your apps are only as good as the skill level of the development put into them. Unoptimized code or infrastructure will need ongoing maintenance and bug fixes. Because Glide apps are built without code, you won’t need to troubleshoot messy code or fix bugs.

Build apps on top of the data sources you use

One area where Retool and Glide show parity is in data sources. Both offer a broad range of connectors and integrations with core tools like Google Docs, Airtable, Excel, and SQL databases. Both also have powerful APIs that let you customize your data connections. With both options available, your decision of platform doesn’t have to be based on how you store your data. Instead, you can choose the tool that supports your workflows, and most empowers you to build the tools you need.

Scale your apps within budget

Both Glide and Retool offer scaling usage-based pricing. Retool offers plans that scale by standard user (users who make edits) and end user (users with read-only access). Most businesses will need multiple standard user seats to make an app collaborative, so costs can add up quickly. On top of that, “external users” (anyone outside of your organization) are billed separately, and you have to go through sales to get quoted on cost. 

Glide offers straightforward pricing plans without hidden costs and standalone purchases that make scaling your apps expensive and complicated. Glide plans include a baseline bundle of users and then offer a low per-user cost for any additional users. Users aren’t categorized by activity or internal/external, so you can collaborate with customers, clients, and contractors without added admin headaches.

With Retool, you pay a fixed price per user: $50 per standard user and $15 per end user on an annual Business plan. With Glide, you get twenty active users per month, included with an annual Business plan at$249 a month. Any additional users will only cost you $8. With only two users on your app, Retool may be less costly, but the balance quickly changes as you scale. 

At just five standard users, a Retool app will be as expensive as the baseline Glide Business plan. With just ten standard users, Retool is twice as expensive as Glide at $500. At twenty standard users, you’re spending $1,000 on Retool, while on Glide, you haven’t even exceeded your included users yet.

While the initial sticker price of a Retool app appears smaller, costs balloon quickly. Glide’s pricing is significantly more competitive at scale. 

Free your team up to build and update the apps you need for work

Expanding who can successfully create business software is what is at the heart of empowering citizen developers and democratizing software creation. 

Retool makes coding custom apps faster and easier for people who have a skilled technical background. If you have the engineering skills required and extensive customization needs for your apps, Retool can be the solution for you.

In comparison to Retool, Glide is a true no code app builder that provides you with significant power and a more user-friendly interface. It gives everyone on your team the tools they need to quickly assemble beautiful, powerful applications for all devices. More of your team can be empowered to build apps, enabling you to solve a broader range of business problems. Plus, you save time and money building those apps quickly and making them available on more devices without extra work. 

When you build software with Glide, you empower more of your team to create the tools they need and eliminate engineering bottlenecks. If your focus is on developing efficient workflows supported by reliable custom software that anyone on your team can create, Glide is the ideal platform for you.

If you’re looking for the best Retool alternatives, read our PowerApps comparison.

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