ShowTool Swatch By Daniel Murfin

May 01, 2022
Article written by Omar Colom and Laura Massas


“The interface is designed to get out of the way, and present the information users really care about seeing.” 

With that said, this wouldn't be an AVE article if we just ended it there. I really enjoy interacting with so many people who not only work in the industry but expand their reach to help others in the industry. I especially love how ShowTool Swatch is able to provide information that crosses brands, such as Lee, Rosco, Gam and Apollo. This makes the app really useful to all end users who realistically have to be able to work with multiple companies, who themselves own different brands and gear. 

I especially like the simplicity of the application for the end user with a section called Gel Matching. I highly recommend this if your passion is lighting, and you can continue to read on to learn more about why this tool will make your life so much easier. Lastly, if you're in-house and in charge of the lighting department the Shop might be your best friend in ordering and getting the right gels. 

I hope you get as much out of ShowTool Swatch as countless others, including some of my closest colleagues. In the end, always remember these are just tools to help you increase efficiency and work smarter, not harderIt is ultimately up to you as the end user to maximize your potential with the right tools at the right time.

Check out the interview below.

Responses provided by: Daniel Murfin

Q: What drove you to create the app?

A: As someone working in the industry, I realised there was a gap in the market for a well designed, clean digital swatch book that provided information from all of the major gel manufacturers.

Q: What other apps have you developed? 

A: ShowTool SM, ShowTool LD, ShowPlay, CueTrack, and LightStrike.

Q: Who are your target users?

A: Theatre, movie and events lighting technicians, programmers, and designers. 

Q: Do you work in the industry, if so, what sector and what’s your technical background? 

A: I trained in Lighting Design, and worked my way up through the industry as a Lighting Programmer. I am now Lighting Control Manager at the National Theatre, and I am also an active member of the ESTA Technical Standards Program. 

Q: How long did the total process of creating your app take? 

A: The initial development of the app took around 2 weeks, but it has had many updates over the years including a major rewrite.

Q: How did you get the word out there about your app once you launched?

A: I used my contacts in the industry and social media to let people know about the launch. Word of mouth has been the best method for letting people know about the app. 

Q: What’s your approach to user experience and design principles?

A: I always aim for clean design in my apps, and want users to be able to easily discover features. I take a lot of hints from Apple's design principles when designing my apps. 

Q: Does your app work offline? 

A: Yes. 

Q: Is your app the same thing from when you first created it or has the idea evolved? 

A: The idea has evolved to add new features, but the primary concept is still the same. 

Q: What platform is this app on and how should people new to your app be using it?

A: iOS and iPadOS.

Q: Can you break down each part of your app and what people can and can’t do with it? 

A: Gel Information - ShowTool Swatch comes fully stocked with the most up to date catalogues for Lee, Rosco, Gam and Apollo with updates as new gels are added. Browse gels by manufacturer and range or search for a specific colour by name or number. Gels can be sorted by number or in catalogue order just like your old swatch book. Gels are presented with the information you need most including name, number, transmission and RGB/CMY values along with a Spectral Energy Distribution graph and preview of the colour. View and compare similar or complementary colours for those times when you've run out of your favourite colour or can't quite get the look you want. 


My Stuff - Mark your favourite gels for quick and easy access or simply view a list of your most recently viewed gels. Notes can be added to each gel for when you just need a little reminder. Collections provide a great way to group gels for a particular show or anything else that takes your fancy. 


Categories - ShowTool Swatch comes complete with a selection of gel categories such as ‘Sunsets’ or ‘Moonlight’, great for those times when you need a little inspiration. 


Gel Matching - Use the superbly simple colour picker to find possible gel matches when you know the colour you want but can't remember its number. Ever see the perfect colour when you're out in the real world?! ShowTool Swatch has the answer with its exclusive photo-matching tool. Simply take a photo or use an existing one and see a great selection of gels that match your photo. 


Shop - ShowTool Swatch comes complete with a comprehensive selection of dealers from across the US, UK and Europe for when you needed that gel yesterday! Create orders from existing collections and send a quote request directly from the app.

Q: How’s the feedback, the audience response, since launching your app?

A: I've had overwhelming positive feedback over the last 8 years since the app launched. Users really enjoy using the app, and I regularly hear from people saying how grateful they are. 

Q: What features are being used the most since launch? 

A: As I don't track any data I don't know what users are using the most, but I have seen many people enjoy the collections feature, and keep lists of their favourite gels. 

Q: What stands out about your app compared to other options?

A: ShowTool Swatch is easy to use, and find your way around. The interface is designed to get out of the way, and present the information users really care about seeing. 

Q: How do they buy the app?  Are there additional features? 

A: Users can buy the app from the App Store

Q: What’s next for the app? 

A: I have just started working on a clean modern update to bring the app onto Apple's latest interface platform which will form the base for the future of ShowTool Swatch. 

Q: Best advice you could give to someone reading this article? 

A: If you work in any area of lighting, and use gels on a daily basis then go and try the app for yourself. It's the price of a cup of coffee, and I'm sure you will find it useful.

Well AVE community, we hope this has been helpful in introducing this app to you or shedding light on some of the capabilities if it’s something you already use.

Stay tuned for the next app highlight soon!

Have a need that an app may be able to fix? Send us a shout and we may have an app highlight that features exactly what you need!

If you would like to contact the app developer directly, here’s how:

Email: [email protected]

Social Media: @showtoolapps

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