How to Code Boring Internal Apps 10x Faster


Retool is a front-end as a service tool that is similar to React and can be 10x faster than coding a web app from scratch. We’ll focus on how and why it is used for internal tools at some of the fastest growing companies and take a minute to walk through how it works, where it’s a good fit and where it’s not.

7 min
09 Jun, 2021

AI Generated Video Summary

ReTool is a platform that focuses on building internal tools quickly. It offers easy integrations with databases and APIs, supports custom React components and JavaScript libraries, and provides extensive support and deployment options. Developers can try it out at

1. Building Internal Tools with ReTool

Short description:

Hi, I'm Chris Smith, a developer advocate at ReTool. Our focus is on building internal tools quickly. We expose metadata and properties of components, offer easy database and API integrations, and allow custom React components and JavaScript libraries. We provide extensive support and deployment options. Try it out at

Hi, my name is Chris Smith, and this is a talk on how to build boring internal tools 10 times faster. I am a developer advocate at ReTool, which is the screenshot of the product you see here.

And a little bit about me, I'm a hacker at heart, started playing around with QBasic when I was in middle school, and messed around with Visual Basic and got really passionate about the visual abstractions of code, and it's really been the theme of career. And what led me to ReTool, and ReTool exists to help engineers create valuable software really fast. And I think that's a really fascinating vision for our company.

And so our focus is on internal tools, and building internal tools much more quickly. And you might be wondering an internal tool. And just think about all of the admin panels, the CRUD interfaces you've ever built, the custom internal apps. And these kind of exist in combination with all the software you'd write for your external customer base, say your marketing site, your product. If you're a SaaS cover, extend your current SaaS tools like Salesforce and build this really better note taking interface on top of your CRM. And the focus of all this really is that it's a tool built by engineers for engineers.

And so some of the things that we do to make that really easy for an engineer is expose all of the metadata and context and properties of these individual components, so that you can really quickly write the code you need to make all the components work to build the application you want to build. A whole lot of really easy to use database and API integrations, as well as the ability to connect to any open API endpoint. And so there's tons and tons of components that are pre built. And you can also extend these and build your own custom React components if you want to. And as you're doing all this, you can really write JavaScript everywhere, we've tried to make it possible to have an escape hatch to just code whatever you need anywhere across the entire app like using this math dot round function or setting table background colors using conditional operators. And we'll auto suggest as you're writing and curly braces all the different objects or methods that we think are available to you. We'll also introspect the schema of your SQL databases or your GraphQL endpoints, and use autocomplete to show you which data to return. And as I mentioned a second ago, you can build your own custom React components if you want to. Or pull in your own custom JavaScript libraries which you can then reference anywhere in the app. And I mean there's so much more here. You can do custom authentication support, you can deploy it locally into your own on premise virtual private cloud if you need to, and sync it with your own GitHub instance. So I hope this is helpful for you as a potentially new interesting tool. Let me know if you have questions. You can find me at CLS Smitty on Twitter and you can try it out at

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