Ritoban Mukherjee • Updated on Sept 6, 2023 • 13 min read
With user journeys now more convoluted than ever, there's a clear need for data-driven admin panels, a tool that helps developers create administrative interfaces for their applications without having to code them from scratch.
In this guide to the 7 best admin panel builders of 2023, I will take you through the various admin panel builders available to help you build out the perfect one for your needs. I'll examine each platform in detail, speaking from personal experience.
Softr is a no-code web app development platform focused on revolutionizing the world of software creation through community and collaboration. Built on Java and Angular, Softr uses AWS to host all web applications on its platform, making it a reliable choice for those looking for a powerful admin panel builder.
In my time with Softr, I found that the platform is really good at creating complex admin panels without being too difficult to use—a tough balance to strike in the world of no-code development. The user interface is intuitive and straightforward but does not skimp on the functionality that's expected from a reputed platform.
Ease of Use
In my experience, Softr is one of the best platforms in terms of accessibility to those with limited programming knowledge. The drag-and-drop UI is really well-executed, not to mention that there are pre-built components, designs, and templates available to help you get a head start.
Softr also lets you connect to your own database, be that in Airtable or Google Sheets, to create a fully functional admin panel in minutes. You can then customize the backend to your liking depending on how much time you want to invest into it.
I have found Softr to be extremely user-centric, with a focus on using community-building techniques to bolster the growth of its platform and users. Standout features for someone looking for an admin panel builder include:
Memberships and User Accounts: Softr offers easy user account creation with server-side authentication, ensuring enterprise-level data encryption. This allows creators to design member-only content, creating private pages and sections based on the user's logged-in status, role, and payment tier;
Design Flexibility: Softr offers 100% design freedom with global styles, fonts, and colors. Users can configure styles for any element, upload custom images, logos, and favicons, and embed videos from platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. The platform boasts over 100 pre-built blocks, including headers, footers, hero sections, CTAs, image galleries, and more;
Custom Form Builder: One of Softr's standout features is its custom form builder. Users can create forms with various fields, including text, email, URL, dropdown, phone number, and date fields. The platform supports unlimited file uploads and hidden fields, which can include URL parameters or logged-in user attributes. Integration with tools like Airtable, Zapier, Integromat, Mailchimp, and Mailerlite makes data collection and management seamless;
Dynamic Search and Filtering: Softr offers real-time dynamic search, filtering, and sorting capabilities. With smart pagination, users can create an interactive experience for their audience. The platform also supports gated content, allowing creators to set page or block-level visibility rules based on conditions like logged-in status, user roles, and subscription tiers.
Softr places a high emphasis on security, ensuring that the data and accounts hosted on its platform are safeguarded with the best-in-class security tools and practices. Here's what I could find about the security measures it puts into place:
Softr's servers are located in Germany, within a datacenter that holds SOC 1, SOC 2, and ISO 27001 certifications. This indicates a high standard of security maintained at the network and system levels.
When users interact with the Softr website, studio, or any of its apps, the information transmission between the user's device and Softr's servers is safeguarded using 256-bit TLS encryption. This ensures that data in transit remains confidential and tamper-proof.
For processing and storing payment details, Softr integrates with Stripe. This means that Softr never directly handles users' payment details. Stripe is a PCI Level 1 Certified payment processor, which is the most stringent certification level in the payments industry.
Softr’s pricing is made of four distinct subscription plans based on the varied needs of individual and business users:
Starter Plan: Priced at $29 per month, this plan is designed for individuals or small businesses that are just starting out and need basic features to build their admin panels;
Professional Plan: At $79 per month, the Professional plan offers more advanced features suitable for businesses that require more comprehensive tools and functionalities;
Business Plan: For larger businesses or enterprises with more extensive needs, the Business plan is available at $199 per month;
Enterprise Plan: This plan offers custom pricing tailored to the specific needs of large enterprises or businesses with unique requirements, though the exact pricing depends on the features and services required by the enterprise.
What I really like about Internal is how it aims to be a collaborative workspace for both developers and non-development professionals, helping them meet in the middle with an admin panel builder that's fit for all skill sets.
Ease of Use
As I mentioned above, Internal serves as a sort of middle ground between technical-oriented and non-technical professionals alike, helping them use it as a collaborative workspace for rapid backend prototyping and development. It's not exactly no-code, but "no-code first." This means it can be used by those with programming knowledge interested in creating code-intensive admin panels, while still being simple enough for those without.
However, as with many platforms that attempt to thread the line between accessibility and technical depth, Internal does sometimes favor one at the cost of the other. During my time with Internal, I found that the layout was sometimes a bit more challenging to navigate than it should have been, while first-time setup can be slow and requires a fair bit of knowledge working with databases.
Internal's emphasis on deep integration, data security, and collaboration makes it a compelling choice for businesses looking to develop internal tools. Here are some of its best features:
Multiple Data Sources: Integration is a central feature of Internal, designed to simplify the process of creating internal tools on top of existing data sources. I can, for example, construct tools that interface directly with databases, integrate with popular business applications like Zendesk and Salesforce, and even connect with my company’s APIs;
Environments: Users can create multiple environments, such as Development, Staging, and Production. This separation ensures that tools under development do not interfere with live tools. Once a tool is ready, I can easily publish it to the desired environment, ensuring a smooth transition from development to deployment;
Function Editor: The function editor is tailor-made for advanced programmers, facilitating the connection of API endpoints, data manipulation using code, and the creation of reusable data elements termed Functions. Developers can use the Function Editor to write specific queries for databases, ensuring that data is fetched and used optimally.
Internal offers some of the most comprehensive sets of security features that I've seen among no-code platforms. The strong emphasis on data protection and user privacy is excellent for backend development, as admin panels often require dealing with confidential business data.
Internal has completed its SOC 2 Type II certification for security and availability. Its servers are hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, which is located in US data centers that have achieved SOC 1, SOC 2, and ISO 27001 certifications.
Internal employs AES 256-bit encryption to secure secrets and audit log data. Additionally, TLS (SSL) encryption is utilized for all data in transit. It offers multiple options for securing connections to databases, including IP allowlisting, TLS/SSL, SSH, and on-premises deployment options.
Apart from the standard data protection features, Internal also provides multiple layers of access control to safeguard against internal leaks, such as:
Authentication: support for two-factor authentication and Single Sign-On (SSO) with platforms like Okta OpenID Connect, Google OAuth, and generic SAML 2.0;
Granular Permissions: Businesses can set fine-grained permissions for every field in their system, resulting in these permissions being enforced across the entire platform.
Starter Plan: The Starter Plan is free and ideal for newcomers. It offers foundational tool-building with an "Admin Mode," supports three data sources, and allows users to create unlimited admin panels. Basic components, a Function Editor, and automation capabilities make this a good entry point;
Teams Plan: At $5 per user per month, the Teams Plan caters to small teams. It includes all Starter features, adds an "End-user mode," supports five data sources, and expands task capacity to 10,000. The introduction of "Environments'' and version history tracking enhances tool organization and deployment;
Business Plan: Designed for mid-sized teams at $19 per user per month, the Business Plan offers enhanced customization with support for five roles and ten data sources. It emphasizes security with the inclusion of audit logs, granular permissions, and two-factor authentication;
Growth Plan: For fast-growing teams, the $50 per user per month Growth Plan provides advanced features. It supports 15 roles and data sources, offers self-hosting options, and integrates with GitHub for source control. Premium analytics further enhance the user experience;
Enterprise Plan: Tailored for large enterprises, the Enterprise Plan offers unlimited roles, data sources, and tasks. Advanced integrations with systems like Google SSO and Okta ensure seamless connectivity. Premium support guarantees dedicated assistance for complex enterprise needs.
DronaHQ is a data-driven internal app development platform with a focus on integrating with a variety of different data sources. Being a low-code platform, DronaHQ emphasizes accelerated web and mobile app development with reduced maintenance overhead.
One of the standout features I love about DronaHQ is its ability to containerize all apps within a single application. This approach can be likened to a "docker for mobile apps," allowing for the rapid building, deployment, and management of mobile backends.
Ease of Use
DronaHQ is intuitive and accessible, but it's important to realize that this is a low-code platform. The platform expects me to already be familiar with the basics of mobile and web app development, making it a fair bit more complicated than fully no-code platforms.
Featuring a rich drag-and-drop builder with more than 100 UI controls, DronaHQ is built for customizability and flexibility. While it may not be the best fit for beginners to backend development like myself, advanced users will find a lot to love in the platform.
DronaHQ lets me easily incorporate core elements like tables, search functions, buttons, and forms into admin panels to foster rapid backend development. Here are some features that I found most useful:
Event-Based Actions: The platform supports event-driven programming, enabling developers to define specific actions that should be triggered based on particular events. This is very useful for creating dynamic admin panels that respond to user interactions in real-time;
AI-Assisted Development: DronaHQ incorporates AI-driven features to assist in the development process. This could include suggestions, error checks, and optimization recommendations, ensuring that the admin panels developed are efficient and error-free. Personally, I found the AI-assisted recommendations to be reasonably accurate during my experience;
Granular Permissions: For admin panel development, having control over user access is paramount. DronaHQ offers granular permissions, allowing developers to define specific roles and determine what actions each role can perform. This ensures that sensitive data and functionalities are only accessible to authorized users.
Because it's focused on backend development, DronaHQ takes its security protocols very seriously. The platform is SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR compliant, ensuring that organizations don't run into any regulatory or security hurdles when using the app builder. DronaHQ also regularly undergoes security reviews and audits to ensure that its platform remains compliant with the highest security standards.
Admin panels built using DronaHQ are secured via 200+ stage-wise security checks. Moreover, DronaHQ also has a self-hosted option for organisations looking for complete control over their security infrastructure.
With the self-hosted option, organizations can host their backends in a separate environment that best aligns with their internal security policies. By hosting DronaHQ within their own VPN, companies can also prevent critical information from ever being exposed to external threats.
Developer: The free plan is tailored for individual developers wanting to experiment with the platform. It allows users to build unlimited admin panels, but without publishing them. The plan includes over 100 pre-built UI components, the ability to connect admin panels to any database or API, reusable queries & APIs, rules & validation, documentation and community support;
Starter: For the price of $10/user/month, the Starter Plan offers everything in the Developer Plan and more. Users can build and publish unlimited admin panels. Additional features include "Sign in with Google", case-based support, and version release and history;
Business: At $25/month/user, the Business Plan builds upon the Starter Plan by offering app catalogs, data environments, custom controls, custom domain & branding, and the ability to connect to Okta, AD, and other SAML or OpenID and oAuth2.0 SSO providers. This plan also provides 50 engineering hours worth of dedicated support;
Enterprise: The Enterprise tier offers everything in the Business Plan and more. Features include custom connectors, granular permissions, audit logs, 100 engineering hours of support, and more. This plan features custom pricing that requires you to connect directly with DronaHQ's sales team.
DronaHQ also offers various paid add-ons to extend the platform's capabilities. Some of these add-ons include PDF Creator, Automation, BPM Workflows, and Public & Embeddable Apps.
AppSmith is a relatively new player in the admin panel builder space. That said, its open-source nature acts as a key differentiator, making it popular among developers who want flexibility and customizability.
Apart from the open-source nature of the platform which eliminates vendor lock-in, AppSmith shines thanks to the vast number of data sources it integrates with, along with the inclusion of pre-built widgets and customizable code blocks to rapidly develop admin panels.
Ease of Use
AppSmith is also one of the most collaborative platforms that I've used, enabling teammates to work on joint projects in real-time. Thanks to the integration with Git, there's also full version control so that you can quickly roll back to a previous version should your teammates make a mistake.
AppSmith is a versatile internal application and admin panel development tool with a lot of integrability and customizability. Below are some of its standout features:
Data Integration: AppSmith allows me to connect to a variety of data sources, including databases, SaaS tools, GraphQL, and REST APIs. Users can directly query their data using SQL or the platform's query builder. The platform boasts 18+ native integrations;
Drag-and-Drop UI Builder: The platform features a drag-and-drop interface, enabling users to utilize over 45 customizable widgets to craft responsive user interfaces without the need for HTML/CSS coding;
Git-based Version Control: AppSmith integrates with Git and enables me to sync existing projects with a Git repository. This greatly facilitates DevOps workflows, such as committing changes, reviewing pull requests, and deploying with CI/CD tools.
In August 2022, CloudSEK ASM reportedthat AppSmith's authentication system featured full-read SSRF vulnerabilities that could be used to take control of the users' data at any time. While this could be considered a major red flag by some, consider that AppSmith addressed these vulnerabilities within just 5 days of them being reported. If anything, this just shows me how proactive the development team is in addressing threats to its security infrastructure.
As of 2023, AppSmith is working on implementing more granular access control features to its platform to streamline how developers can manage and assign permissions to their applications. The self-hosting capability is yet another nice touch, which gives users complete control over security, updates, and scaling.
All sensitive content including database credentials and Git SSH keys are encrypted using AES-256 encryption. AppSmith's cloud version is hosted in AWS data centers on SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliant servers. Finally, all connections to AppSmith Cloud are encrypted with TLS. For self-hosted instances, SSL certificates can be set up during installation via LetsEncrypt, or administrators can upload their own SSL certificate to AppSmith.
AppSmith's primary pricing model is based on usage. Instead of charging per seat or for building admin panels, they charge based on how much the admin panels are used by end users. The pricing is capped at $20 per user per month. This means that no matter how extensively a user utilizes the platform, they won't be charged more than this capped amount.
Moreover, there is no charge to develop software on the AppSmith platform. This means that developers can build, test, and iterate on their admin panels without incurring any costs. Only when the admin panels are deployed and used by end users, does the usage-based pricing come into effect.
While the exact details of the enterprise pricing aren't specified in the provided content, it's mentioned that enterprise pricing is available on request. This suggests that businesses with specific needs or larger user bases can reach out to AppSmith for a customized pricing structure tailored to their needs.
JetAdmin is a no-code platform designed to help you build internal applications, especially, client portals and admin panels, quickly and without fuss. It offers a collection of dashboards, collections, and widgets that can be used to put together a backend interface pretty quickly.
The platform is designed for a wide range of users, from startups to large enterprises. While it's great for building anything internal-facing, some users have expressed concerns when trying to develop client or partner portals for external vendors. And while it's perfect for power users, JetAdmin does struggle to satisfy beginners thanks to the initial learning curve.
Ease of Use
JetAdmin is generally perceived to be a very user-friendly platform, even though it may not be the best fit for absolute beginners or casual users. Its audience is particularly made up of business professionals building applications for internal deployment, such as admin panels, so this didn't come as a surprise to me.
In my time with JetAdmin, I personally found the UX to be quite intuitive and design-friendly, despite some users suggesting that it may not be so. This could be due to the fact that a lot of JetAdmin’s customers are experienced developers who come from a programming background, which leads them to expect more flexibility than is likely from a no-code platform. Another issue is how slow customer support is.
JetAdmin stands out as one of the best platforms for building internal-facing admin portals. Here are some of its best features:
SQL & API Querying: It provides robust support for creating custom SQL or HTTP queries. This feature is beneficial for implementing custom actions, tables, forms, and more. By offering direct querying capabilities, JetAdmin ensures that users can interact with their data seamlessly and implement custom logic as needed;
Data Transformation: JetAdmin offers tools for data transformation, enabling users to manipulate and process their data in various ways. This is useful for businesses that need to generate reports, derive insights, or perform data analytics within their admin panels.
JetAdmin uses a platform called Jet Bridge to generate an API that proxies the requests to databases and business apps. Moreover, all data and credentials that go through their website and platform are secured via HTTPS encryption.
The platform lets you self-host your admin panel using the cloud deployment solution of your choosing. It also includes an on-premise deployment option for organizations that don't want their internal admin panels to be on the public cloud.
While it doesn't go into a lot of detail about security infrastructure in its documentation, JetAdmin is a reliable platform that offers a great deal of flexibility in how and where you deploy your admin panels. This is important because most organizations prefer for their admin panels to be within their own controlled environment anyway.
JetAdmin's pricing is divided into two facets: one dedicated to internal tools, such as admin panels, and another for building customer portals. Here's a detailed overview::
Free (Internal Tool): This plan is designed for those who are just starting out and want to explore the platform. It offers a self-service knowledge base and email support. Users can also take advantage of a 14-day free trial. The plan includes over 30 building blocks or components, the ability to connect to various databases, business applications, and APIs, a query builder, and formula functionality;
Starter (Internal Tool): At $30/user/month, this plan is more team-oriented, offering team-based permissions. It also provides different environments like production, staging, and development. An activity log is available, and users can also add tasks and comments;
Pro (Internal Tool): At $60/user/month, the plan offers more advanced features like email and shared slack support, custom domain & branding, automations/workflows, and the ability to create custom components using HTML/CSS/JS;
Enterprise (Internal Tool): This plan is tailored for larger organizations with specific needs. It offers personalized customer success management, a tailored onboarding program and training, on-premise setup, SSO (SAML, Okta), 2FA, and a 99.9% uptime SLA. You have to contact JetAdmin directly for custom pricing;
Starter (Customer Portal): At $49/month, this plan allows for up to 500 users, with an additional cost of $50 per month for every additional 1000 users. It supports one admin panel and offers tailored onboarding, and database integrations like Google Sheets, Airtable, PostgreSQL, and environments. It also has a "powered by jet" white-label;
Plus (Customer Portal): At $149/month, this plan charges an additional $100 per month for every extra 1000 users. It offers business apps and API integrations and offers a "Powered by Jet" white-label;
Pro (Customer Portal): At $349/month, this plan for customer portals offers email support, permissions by user roles, a custom domain, white labelling, and automations;
Enterprise (Customer Portal) Plan: At $799/month, his plan offers a tailored onboarding program and training, and it's designed for businesses with extensive needs.
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