REV23 X: A Decade of Tattoo Studio Software Pt. 4 - Road to Mobile

Part 4 of a blog post series chronicling ten years of REV23's tattoo studio software. This post talks about our journey to REV23 mobile apps.

Nate Laff · Tuesday, February 18, 2020

This blog post is Part 4 of a multi-part series celebrating ten years of REV23.
Part I: Origin Story
Part II: Beginnings
Part III: Touch/Painful Pleasures
Part IV: Road to Mobile

REV23’s first ten years has been focused on our flagship software, REV23 Desktop (Tattoo Management Studio) and the Windows desktop environment. At the time REV23 was first developed, the iPhone didn’t exist, which of course meant there was no iPad. The only tablet computer was a Windows XP device that was big and clunkly. So, REV23 started on the platform that made the most since, especially for business software, Microsoft Windows. Sure, it would have been great to have a mobile app, after all, it’s the #1 request from our existing and potential new users, and if REV23 was born yesterday, obviously that’s where we’d have started.

We have of course been eyeballing mobile for a long time, but it was never the right time, and the pieces hadn’t aligned yet; though we have been making moves behind the scenes for years to prepare for this for a few years. Renaming Tattoo Management Studio to REV23 Desktop in 2017, the implementation of REV23 ID that we completed last summer, and many years of behind the scenes work as we waited, watched and bided our time.

Developing an app that communicates with your desktop PC and existing REV23 Desktop database, while not impossible, presents many challenges, including security, availability, performance, as well as a complicated setup process. Overall, a support and development nightmare for us, and frustrating experience for the user. A mobile app really requires a distributed cloud-based platform that is controlled and maintained by us.

The primary reason that it’s taken this long though is, by the time mobile apps had taken over and we needed to make a move, there were simply too many tattoo studios that relied on our Desktop software… software that wasn’t ready to be left unsupervised yet. Much like a child, REV23 Desktop needed to be nurtured and allowed time to grow organically. To allow a toddler, or even a ten-year-old to roam free without any supervision wouldn’t end well. Likewise, taking our eye off Desktop even for a brief time would have been a disservice to the industry and the people that trusted and placed their faith in REV23. Ten years later, I think of Desktop as a teenager. It still needs to grow and mature some more, but it’s out of its awkward stage and doesn’t need constant supervision.

So, with that, I am happy to tell you that we will be announcing (not releasing) our long awaited REV23 app on our ten-year anniversary, March 1st, 2020! However, before we talk about what REV23’s new app is, it’s important to talk about what it is not, which we realize may come as a disappointment to some existing Desktop users. But I want to make this point perfectly clear before we go further: REV23 Desktop is still in active development and not going anywhere. We will get back to this later.

This upcoming app is a separate product/service and is not compatible with, nor is it a full replacement for the features found in Desktop. I know, I can literally hear the groans. Desktop is very comprehensive and has been ten years in the making; it is targeted to a very particular type of tattoo shop, which at the time of its conception, was the most common business model in this industry: medium to large studios with managed tattooers/piercers, and often front desk staff and management that coordinate the daily operations. This model is simply no longer the trend for new tattoo businesses and hasn’t been for some time. For REV23 to grow and continue to be an industry leader, investing in an app that relied on our existing Windows software to function did not make sense, and ultimately would not be in the best interest REV23, our existing users, or the industry as a whole.

What will happen to Desktop when we launch this new app? As I said earlier, it is not going anywhere! It will continue to be improved, maintained, supported and sold, just like today. We’re not done writing the story we began ten years ago, and we will continue adding chapters to that book. There may be periods where it’s not receiving the lion’s share of attention, but it is still loved by us, as well as a great number of tattoo and body piercing studios across the globe. There is already a new major version (v20) in the pipeline with a refreshed user interface to support high DPI displays, removing the blur of icons from current versions, as well as adding some top requested features. I still have some tricks up my sleeve for future versions related to mobile/web access, but the time still isn’t right to make this a reality. When the time is right, it should come together fairly quickly.

To develop this new app, we had to take a step back and start from scratch, taking the lessons we’ve learned over the course of our journey, compensating for newer trends in the industry and design a brand-new platform. It is the response to a decade of watching the industry change and grow, feedback from new, potential, and past customer. It allows us to serve a wider audience of businesses and individuals that have heard some many great things and want to use REV23 but find Desktop too rich for their minimal needs.

While I anticipate some existing Desktop users will find that the new app is a better fit for their needs and migrate to it, most users will immediately determine that Desktop is still the best choice for their business and stay where they’re at. Whatever your needs are, big or small, REV23 will have a solution that is suited for you.

So, this concludes our blog post series, REV23 X: A Decade of Tattoo Studio Software. Thank you for joining us in these posts celebrating ten years of REV23. I hope you have enjoyed a look back at where we came from and what has been put into REV23 over the last ten-years. I think what we’ve built here is truly special, not just as a product, but as a community, and I think that’s what always has, and always will set REV23 apart from other products in the marketplace. Thank you to all our fans and friends that have placed their faith in REV23 and allow me to continue what I love doing every single day. We’re excited to start our new chapter with you.

REV23 - Nate Laff

Nate Laff

Nate is the founder and developer of REV23.

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