Retool University

Learn how to build internal tools in Retool

Welcome to Retool University

Retool is the fast and easy way to build and maintain internal tools. If you are not a developer but want to learn how to build in Retool, you’ve come to the right place!

Retool University is a great place to get started with Retool. Each lesson covers everything from SQL to JavaScript, as well as how to build awesome Retool apps.

Before we get started, here are a few resources to keep in mind as we work through the lessons:

ResourceDescription
Retool University (You’re here!)A curated lesson plan meant for non-developers (e.g. operations, analyst, product manager, etc) to quickly refresh on relevant topics before building Retool apps.
Retool DocsThe Retool Docs are in-depth developer resources that help you truly master every aspect of Retool—from connecting Google Sheets to setting up pagination and more.
Retool Community ForumThe Retool Community is the best place to get support, share and learn, and level up your Retool skills.

Categories include Support for any questions or troubleshooting and Show and tell to share what you’re building and learn from others.
Retool on YouTubeOur YouTube channel is focused on helping you make the most of Retool, with tutorials, tips-and-tricks, and full step-by-step guides to building common apps.

Once you complete Retool University, you’ll be able to:

  1. Connect your database or API into Retool
  2. Write queries to read and write your data
  3. Use Retool components (e.g. tables, forms) to build functional apps.

We recommend running through the lessons in order, but they are modular by design and can be read relatively independently. So pick any lesson that might pique your interest!

Let’s get started with an introduction to Retool!

Introducing Retool

Before we dive into SQL, JavaScript, and building apps, it’s worth getting a firm understanding of what Retool does. Retool helps you build apps—everything from apps to approve home loans to apps that automate your sales process.

When you build an app from scratch, there are a lot of things to consider beyond how it works or what it looks like (i.e. hosting, integration, audit logs, authentication, etc). But when you build Retool apps, we take care of all of the hard stuff so you can focus on what actually needs to be custom for your business.

Before moving on, please read the following docs articles:

ArticleWhat you’ll learn
What is Retool? (5 min)You’ll walk away learning about the fundamental pieces to how Retool works and a general overview of what’s important to know.
Quickstart (10 min)You’ll see how quickly you can build a simple customer app in Retool once you’ve sharpened a few technical skills first. Note: You don’t have to build the app along with the article, just read through to get an idea of the normal flow.

Remember, Retool has the following workflow:

  • Connect your API or database, like PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Google Sheets, Salesforce, and 20+ more
  • Get data into Retool from your database using queries to communicate with your connected resource
  • Show data and edit data by connecting your queries to pre-built Retool components (like tables, text inputs, and buttons) and writing Javascript

📘

In short, API or database → Retool resource connection → Retool query → Retool component.

Learn by building: Charlotte’s story

Not sure you’re ready? Check out the video below from one our customers, Charlotte Evans at Coursera. She did not have a developer background, but she now uses Retool to build powerful apps used by dozens of teammates at a large, fast-growing company.

Jump to the next lesson

Here’s a quick breakdown of each lesson so you can create the path that’s right for you.

LessonWhat you’ll learn
SQL in Retool (1 hour)SQL databases like Postgres, MySQL, and MSSQL are some of the most popularly connected data sources to build Retool apps. And even if you're not using any of these directly, our Query JSON with SQL query type is convenient when working with JSON data, so it's worth getting comfortable with the basics.

To get up to speed with basic SQL (and how it relates to Retool), run through our SQL guide.
JavaScript in Retool (3 hours)JavaScript is how you connect everything together in Retool—like your data to your components—as well as transform data, trigger queries, and lots of other fun stuff.

You don't need to be a full stack JS developer to be positively dangerous in Retool, so we'll walk you through the basics and how they relate to building apps.
App Anatomy (15 min)The Retool workspace is divided into 4 visual boxes: (1) the main canvas, (2) the right panel, (3) the bottom panel and (4) the left panel. Each of these panels (2, 3, 4) have special names and functions that we’ll explore.
Query Anatomy (25 min)You might have noticed that the bottom panel in Retool has a lot going on, and you'd be right—writing queries is arguably the most important part of getting your Retool apps in shape. We’ll walk you through how to write queries in Retool.
App Management (10 min)Just like with web apps, there's a lot to do once you've got your first Retool app working. The first place to get started is sharing apps: how to make sure your work gets used.
Additional Resources (Below)Before embarking on your own, take a look through our recommended docs, videos, and links to make sure you build performant apps as smoothly as possible.

Additional Resources

Docs to read before building your first app:

Step-by-step tutorials (docs):

Step-by-step tutorials (video):


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