Bubble vs. Retool: Which Platform is Better (2023)?

Here’s my honest Bubble vs Retool comparison guide. If you’re looking to build web applications with advanced features, this review will guide you.

First, what’s the difference between these two tools:

The main difference is that Bubble targets users comfortable with complexity, offering advanced customization and scalability for complex web applications, whereas Retool prioritizes user-friendliness with a low learning curve, making it ideal for quick and efficient development of internal tools and rapid prototyping for minimum viable products (MVPs).

Bubble vs Retool: Key Features Compared

Let’s quickly compare Bubble and Retool side by side to determine how they stack against each other:

Customization Options✔️✔️
Learning CurveHighLow
HostingSelf-hosting requiredIncluded
ScalabilityHighly ScalableLimited
Community SupportActiveGrowing

What is Bubble and How Does it Work?

Bubble is a powerful no-code platform known for its advanced customization and scalability.

Users can create complex web applications with extensive design control, making it suitable for those comfortable with a steeper learning curve.

Pros of Bubble:

  1. High customization capabilities.
  2. Scalability for complex projects.
  3. Active community support.

Cons of Bubble:

  1. High learning curve.
  2. Self-hosting required.

What is Retool and How Does It Work?

Retool is a user-friendly platform designed for quick and efficient application development. Its low learning curve and drag-and-drop interface make it accessible for beginners, while still providing customization options.

Pros of Retool:

  1. User-friendly interface.
  2. Low learning curve.
  3. Transparent pricing.

Cons of Retool:

  1. Limited scalability.
  2. Less flexibility in advanced customization.

Bubble vs Retool: Side-by-Side Comparison

1. User-Friendly:

Bubble, with its advanced customization and feature-rich capabilities, caters more to users comfortable with complexity, resulting in a less user-friendly experience for beginners.

The platform’s extensive functionality may pose a challenge for those new to application development, requiring a steeper learning curve to navigate its robust features.

Retool takes the lead in user-friendliness with its intuitive drag-and-drop interface and low learning curve.

Designed to simplify application development, Retool is an excellent choice for beginners.

The platform ensures that users, even without prior coding experience, can quickly grasp the basics and start creating applications efficiently.

2. Customization Options:

Bubble offers unparalleled customization options, providing users with extensive control over intricate design elements.

This allows for the creation of highly tailored and complex web applications, making it the preferred choice for users with specific and demanding design requirements.

While Retool does offer customization options, its focus on simplicity may limit the extent of advanced design flexibility.

It strikes a balance between ease of use and customization, making it suitable for users who prioritize efficiency in application development over intricate design control.

3. Learning Curve:

Bubble: Bubble’s learning curve is notably higher, reflecting its feature-rich environment. Users looking to harness the full potential of Bubble’s capabilities will need to invest more time in understanding and mastering the platform, making it better suited for those with prior development experience.

Retool: Designed with a low learning curve in mind, Retool empowers users, including beginners, to quickly and efficiently create applications without the need for extensive training. The platform’s simplicity ensures a smooth onboarding process, allowing users to focus on the application’s content and functionality.

4. Hosting:

Bubble: Bubble requires users to self-host their projects. While this provides more control over the hosting environment, it introduces an additional layer of complexity, especially for users new to application development. Users need to consider hosting logistics, adding a technical consideration to the process.

Retool: Retool includes hosting in the package, simplifying the hosting process for users. This integrated approach streamlines the entire application development experience, eliminating the need for users to manage hosting separately. It caters to those who prefer an all-in-one solution.

5. Scalability:

Bubble: Bubble excels in scalability, making it the go-to choice for complex projects with growing demands. Its robust infrastructure ensures that as projects become more intricate and demanding, Bubble can accommodate increased complexity without compromising performance.

Retool: While efficient for simpler projects, Retool’s scalability is comparatively limited. It may not be the optimal choice for projects with expansive growth plans or those requiring advanced scalability features found in more complex platforms like Bubble.

6. Pricing:

Bubble: Bubble involves a complex pricing structure with free, hobby, and professional plans catering to diverse user needs. While offering flexibility, this complexity might be overwhelming for users seeking a straightforward pricing model. Users need to carefully assess their requirements to determine the most cost-effective plan.

Retool: Retool boasts transparent pricing plans, making it easy for users to understand and choose the right option. The straightforward approach simplifies the decision-making process, ensuring users can quickly identify the plan that aligns with their needs without navigating intricate pricing tiers.

7. Community Support:

Bubble: Bubble enjoys an active community, providing robust support and a wealth of resources for users tackling complex projects. The engaged community is particularly beneficial for users seeking advice, troubleshooting, and insights into harnessing Bubble’s advanced features.

Retool: Retool features a growing community, offering a supportive environment for beginners seeking assistance. While not as extensive as some other platforms, the growing nature ensures a collaborative atmosphere and a valuable resource for users navigating the platform’s user-friendly features.

Is Bubble Better than ReTool?

Bubble targets users with advanced customization needs and scalability requirements, while Retool excels in user-friendliness and simplicity, making it an ideal choice for beginners or those with straightforward application development needs. Consider your familiarity with development and the complexity of your project when choosing between these two platforms.

Use Cases for Bubble:

1. Complex Web Applications: Bubble shines in scenarios where users aim to develop complex web applications with intricate features. Whether it’s a sophisticated e-commerce platform, a dynamic social network, or a data-intensive analytics tool, Bubble’s extensive customization options and scalability make it the preferred choice for projects demanding advanced functionalities.

2. Startups with Unique Requirements: For startups embarking on projects with unique and specific requirements, Bubble offers a robust toolkit. Whether it’s building a groundbreaking software solution, a niche marketplace, or a platform with innovative features, Bubble provides the flexibility and scalability necessary to bring unconventional ideas to life.

Use Cases for Retool:

1. Streamlined Internal Tools: Retool excels in creating streamlined internal tools for businesses. Whether it’s a dashboard for data visualization, an employee onboarding application, or a project management tool, Retool’s user-friendly interface and low learning curve make it an ideal choice for rapidly developing efficient and tailored solutions to meet internal business needs.

2. Quick Prototyping for MVPs: When speed is of the essence, Retool is a valuable asset for startups and businesses looking to rapidly prototype minimum viable products (MVPs). The platform’s simplicity allows users to quickly design and deploy functional prototypes, enabling teams to validate ideas, gather feedback, and iterate swiftly without the complexity associated with more advanced platforms.

Bubble Pricing:

  • Free Plan:
    • Offers basic features for exploration and experimentation.
  • Hobby Plan: $29/month:
    • Ideal for individuals and smaller projects, providing enhanced features and capacity.
  • Professional Plan: Custom Pricing:
    • Tailored for businesses and enterprises with complex requirements.
    • Offers premium features and extensive support.
    • Custom pricing based on specific project needs.

Retool Pricing:

  • Free Trial:
    • Allows users to experience the platform’s functionality before committing.
  • Developer Plan: $100/user/month:
    • Designed for individual users or smaller teams.
    • Provides access to essential features for building internal tools.
  • Team Plan: Custom Pricing:
    • Tailored for growing teams.
    • Offers advanced collaboration features and additional resources.
    • Customizable pricing based on team-specific requirements.

Pricing Comparison:

  • Bubble:
    • Diverse pricing model with a free plan for exploration.
    • Mid-tier plan for growing needs.
    • Customizable professional plan for businesses with advanced requirements.
  • Retool:
    • Free trial for initial exploration.
    • Developer plan for individual users or smaller teams.
    • Customizable team plan for larger teams with advanced collaboration needs.

In summary, both Bubble and Retool offer a range of pricing options with diverse features to cater to different user needs. The breakdown provides clarity on the features included in each plan, allowing users to make informed decisions based on their project scale and complexity.


1. Is Bubble suitable for beginners?

  • Bubble is better suited for users with some background in web development due to its steeper learning curve and advanced features.

2. Does Retool offer a free plan?

  • Retool provides a free trial period, allowing users to explore the platform’s functionality before committing to a subscription.

3. Which plan is recommended for a growing team in Bubble?

  • For a growing team in Bubble, the customizable Professional Plan would be recommended, offering advanced features and support tailored to business needs.

4. Can I customize the Retool Team Plan based on my team’s specific requirements?

  • Yes, the Retool Team Plan is customizable, allowing users to tailor the pricing and features based on their team’s specific needs.

Is Bubble Better than Retool? Conclusion

In summary, Bubble is best suited for ventures requiring complex web applications with advanced functionalities, making it an optimal choice for established projects and startups with unique demands.

Retool excels in scenarios where streamlined internal tools or rapid prototyping for MVPs are the primary focus, offering a user-friendly environment ideal for quick and efficient development.