Retool expands its low-code platform for creating internal apps to support external apps, too

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Retool Expands Beyond Internal Apps, Empowering Businesses to Build Secure External Apps with Ease

Since its launch in 2017, Retool has become a leading player in the low-code landscape, enabling businesses of all sizes to build sophisticated internal line-of-business applications with unprecedented speed and efficiency. The platform, used by thousands of companies including giants like Amazon, OpenAI, Pinterest, Plaid, Snowflake, Taco Bell, and Volvo, has earned a reputation for its user-friendly interface and powerful features. Now, Retool is taking its offering to the next level by extending its reach beyond internal apps to empower businesses to create secure and performant applications for external audiences.

The new "Retool for External Apps" service, now generally available, aims to simplify the process of building external business applications, offering businesses the same ease of use and robust functionality they’ve come to expect from Retool’s internal app platform.

The Power of Reusability: From Internal Tools to External Applications

At the heart of Retool’s proposition lies a fundamental insight: the building blocks of internal and external business software are remarkably similar. CRUD apps, which focus on creating, reading, updating, and deleting data, form the core of many business applications. Whether used internally or externally, these applications rely on buttons, forms, tables, and other fundamental UI components, making Retool’s existing infrastructure well-suited for building both types of software.

David Hsu, CEO and co-founder of Retool, highlights this crucial point, stating: "The really cool thing that we’ve learned about applying Retool to external business software is that actually, external business software is also remarkably similar, especially the more operational external software."

This similarity allows Retool to provide developers with a unified, streamlined approach for building both internal and external applications, reducing development time and effort significantly.

Addressing the Pain Points of Traditional App Development

Traditional app development processes often involve significant upfront investment in time and resources. Developers must write code from scratch, leading to extended development cycles and a higher risk of errors. This is particularly true for CRUD apps, which are often considered ‘boilerplate’ work.

Hsu underscores this challenge, stating: "What’s really remarkable is that, just like for internal tools, the way that people build these CRUD apps today is so primitive. You basically use React and you build it from scratch. It’s kind of shocking that people are doing this day in and day out."

Retool offers a compelling solution by providing developers with a ready-made set of building blocks, eliminating the need for extensive coding and enabling them to focus on the unique features of their application.

Beyond Functionality: Delivering a Stellar User Experience

While functionality is paramount in business applications, the importance of user experience cannot be understated. Retool understands this need and has incorporated features that allow developers to build external apps that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Hsu elaborates on this point, noting: "Building for an external audience is a bit different, though, in that things like branding, performance and the overall look and feel matter quite a bit more."

Retool’s platform allows developers to customize branding, implement responsive design principles, and optimize application performance to ensure a sleek and intuitive experience for end users.

Security: A Non-Negotiable Priority for External Apps

Security is a top priority for any software, but it is particularly crucial for external applications that handle sensitive information. Retool acknowledges this critical factor and has integrated robust security features into its platform to provide businesses with a secure environment for developing and deploying external applications.

Retool has incorporated functionality for authentication and authorization, allowing developers to implement granular access controls and ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive data. The platform also supports secure API integration, enabling developers to connect their applications to external services while maintaining data privacy and security.

Antony Bello, Senior Product Manager at Retool, emphasizes the importance of security, stating: "Shipping good software to external users means builders have to think about user-facing features that often aren’t as mission-critical when the tool is only used internally. This includes customizing how users onboard and navigate through applications. Security considerations become paramount with login, password reset flows, and granular permissions. Retool for External Apps puts design flexibility and customization at the forefront so that customers can easily build white labeled apps for external users without sacrificing security or user experience."

Streamlining User Onboarding with Comprehensive Features

Retool has recognized the need for a smooth user onboarding experience, particularly for external applications. The platform provides a range of features to facilitate user adoption, including:

  • Customizable invitation and onboarding flows: Allow businesses to personalize the user experience and guide new users through the application.
  • Customizable email notifications: Facilitate communication and provide users with timely updates and reminders.
  • Embeddability: Integrate external Retool applications into existing systems and workflows using its React and JavaScript SDKs.

Retool’s Vision: Good Software For Everyone

Retool’s mission has evolved from "changing the way software is built" to a more ambitious goal: "bringing good software to everyone." The company defines "good software" as applications that are performant, reliable, secure, and easy to use.

Retool is committed to delivering on this promise by continuously investing in improvements across its platform. This includes enhancing the performance of its infrastructure to surpass the capabilities of even traditional frameworks like React, demonstrating the power of focused development within a specialized use case.

The Future of External App Development with Retool

Retool’s expansion into the external app market holds significant potential for both businesses and developers. The platform offers a compelling solution for companies seeking to rapidly develop and deploy high-quality external applications without sacrificing security or user experience. By leveraging Retool’s existing capabilities and adding new, specialized features, businesses can bring secure and user-friendly applications to a wider audience.

The future of external app development is likely to be characterized by increased emphasis on security, user experience, and speed to market. Retool’s entry into this space positions it as a key player, empowering businesses to innovate and thrive in the digital landscape.

Article Reference

Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson is a tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the industry. She has a knack for identifying the next big thing in startups and has reviewed countless internet products. Emily's deep insights and thorough analysis make her a trusted voice in the tech news arena.