Retool started six years ago as a frontend builder for internal tools. Since we launched, we’ve worked with tens of thousands of companies across every vertical—from two-person startups all the way to Fortune 10s. We focused on making it as fast as possible for developers to build internal apps so that they don’t have to start from scratch to build the same patterns of admin panels, CRUD apps, frontends for APIs, automations, etc. To date, millions of applications have been built in Retool to help internal teams move faster and operate more effectively.
But beyond internal tools, there are also massive amounts of external custom software being built for customers, partners, and vendors. (Gartner estimates enterprises will spend $1 trillion—yes, trillion with a T—on such software in 2023, up 10% from the prior year.) This software can take many shapes—but frequently, it comes in the form of tools or portals to manage and edit information, submit documents, review applications, file claims, and more.
There’s no easy solution to build such apps today. Developers are often forced to build them from the ground up: setting up a database from scratch, integrating multiple APIs, configuring the latest Webpack release and making it work in CI, fiddling with CSS to get components to fit company branding, and then managing auth, SSO, permissions, scaling, performance—the list goes on.
We noticed the similarity in the needs developers had when it came to building internal tools, and we’re taking a big step toward extending the Retool platform to support these external use cases.
Today, we’re going beyond internal tools with two new products: Retool Portals and Retool Embed. These products are designed to help developers build dashboards, workflows, and features—not just for their internal teams, but also for customers, partners, vendors, and more.
Introducing a new stack for building portals
Most companies need a way to securely get business processes and data in front of their external users. What we mean by external users here are folks who are deeply familiar with your business and company and need access to internal systems, but aren’t actually employed by you. Examples could include: contractors, vendors, partners, or even special customers who you want to actively build with.
Oftentimes these users might interact with your company through entirely manual processes like emails, spreadsheets, or even pen and paper. It might not even occur to someone that software can be used to streamline and automate much of this work.
But when people do build software for them, we’ve seen first hand that the benefits can be huge. After just a few months in beta, we’ve seen customers use Portals and Embed for a wide range of use cases. Orangetheory Fitness, for example, uses Retool to build custom external applications for their 1,600+ franchise studios and equip studio managers with data to drive revenue.
With Retool Portals and Retool Embed, you can now use the power of Retool (our visual programming environment, 100+ optimized components, out-of-the-box API and database integrations, and all our SDLC features, etc.) to build such apps quickly and easily. Portals is great if you want an end-to-end hosted solution to build out a portal; Embed is better if you want to augment a pre-existing app with new functionality you build in Retool.
If you choose to host your app fully on Retool, Retool Portals manages signup, authentication, and permissions out of the box. Our beta customers have been able to build a full portal and ship it to production in a few hours (versus weeks).
Brand customization is built in so that your customers and partners will never know they’re using Retool. Style your apps with themes and branding as you build, then whitelabel your portal with custom domains, branded emails, and more.
If you already have an existing app or portal but want to add more functionality, you can use Embed to augment what the app can do for users. For example, you can add a new dashboard view, or a form that’s handled by Retool, and drop them into your own app. We’ll work with your existing auth provider to ensure the right data is shown to the right users, etc.
Greenly, for example, built an app to collect customer details securely in order to provide them with more accurate carbon emission calculations. Building with Embed let them deliver the project 3x faster. Westhill automated claim submissions with a custom portal and have saved over $5M in engineering costs.
We’re excited to see what you build with these new capabilities! Both Retool Portals and Retool Embed are available across Business and Enterprise plans starting today. You can get started by signing up for a Retool account or read more integration details in our docs.