The Grid

over 8 years ago from , Designer at Carter's

https://thegrid.io/ I'm surprised this hasn't made it up to top stories yet. Seems like a very interesting idea, but also, slightly ominous for developers.


  • Daniel FoscoDaniel Fosco, over 8 years ago

    I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see.

    19 points
  • Jeff CouturierJeff Couturier, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )


    Yeah, okay.

    "no templates" -- Bullshit. It's absolutely using templates, it's just doing so on a smaller component level rather than at the complete page level.

    Until the time comes that we create a sophisticated, true A.I. that can emote and develop it's own sense of taste, no "algorithm" will do anything other than assemble a set of pre-determined components and templates.

    With all of that said, it's still an interesting idea and an interesting product. I'm not keen on how they're promoting it, and am highly skeptical about it being able to create sites that don't look like vapid templates.

    14 points
    • Kai HuangKai Huang, over 8 years ago

      I agree. I highly doubt this is not based off templates. My first thought after watching the video is that the A.I will choose from a predetermined list of grid systems and adapt your content to one of those grids depending on which options you choose for your purpose of the website.

      3 points
    • Liz HeidnerLiz Heidner, over 8 years ago

      One of the best uses of that gif!

      And agreed to all of the above.

      I'm going to hold off being too harsh though until we see the released product. I would like to think we are going to reach a tipping point soon for more sophisticated product creation tools (ala Squarespace + AI) exist.

      2 points
    • Dan TocchiniDan Tocchini, over 8 years ago

      lol. we don't mean AI like skynet! it's AI like "constraint solvers" that buildup & analyze complex decision trees.

      We mean no templates in the sense that you don't have to adapt your content to fit a predefined structure. Instead, we have "layout filters" which will adapt to fit your content. A classic example is a website template with a large featured area & three boxes beneath... what happens when you have 2 things, not 3? You end up tweaking your content so it looks good in that template, and then you never update your site again. With layout filters, that will never happen, if you have 2 things than it will find a solution that matches that content.

      The Grid's site was built with our first layout filter. Almost all the colors on our website, other than the top header were chosen not by us, but automatically from the media we posted. The individual layout sections were not chosen by us, but chosen for us to establish a sense of "polyrhythm" as you scroll the site.

      By making aesthetic decisions based on the content, we can minimize that cookie-cutter feeling. Each layout filter will have an aesthetic to it, but its more like instagram image filters, you may be able to identify a filter, but it's the image (the content) that matters.

      Of course we still need flesh & blood designers to feed our AI with good taste!

      Demos coming soon...

      1 point
      • Mark TrudingerMark Trudinger, 8 years ago

        Dan, Thanks for your overview. I am curious If I sign-up: 1. how long before I can play with the tool? 2. how long before I can put up a demo website? 3. how long before I could actually hope to get my full site run from thegrid.io? I'm really keen to get going immediately, but waiting until Spring 2015 sounds to me (I'm very impatient) like a nightmare!

        0 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, over 8 years ago

    To me, it just looks like Squarespace wrapped in a more compelling sales pitch with some extra, very clever, features. None of which are bad things necessarily, it just doesn't seem to be the revolutionary new way of building sites that they communicate it to be.

    8 points
    • Crampa ...Crampa ..., over 8 years ago

      You're exactly right.

      Everyone is caught up on the sales pitch and not realizing this stuff has been around awhile.

      1 point
  • Rik RoukensRik Roukens, over 8 years ago

    I decided to dip in, can't wait to try it out in the spring of 2015.

    4 points
  • Ricardo MagalhãesRicardo Magalhães, over 8 years ago

    I'm not sure about this; it seems to me like this is trying to be everything at once, one big package that takes care of everything. Isn't it too optimistic and broad at the same time? I got lost trying to figure out what this is really trying to be.

    3 points
    • Jonathan Kimsey, over 8 years ago

      Ya, you get a really cool presentation of a very complex idea.

      0 points
      • Daniel FoscoDaniel Fosco, over 8 years ago

        Though the idea of automated A/B tests is not bad in itself.

        If I was able to define some key parameters, I'd expect the system to pitch one version against the other, a kind of high-speed natural selection for websites.

        I would be surprised if Optimizely or VWO don't have something like that already, at least in the works.

        2 points
  • Jerome Arfouche, over 8 years ago

    I definitely think we're moving towards more commoditized software than less (ho ho ! fancy words) but I don't know, it seems broad and too optimistic (or maybe I'm too skeptical)

    My experience with programs that "do everything you want" is really not that great

    2 points
  • Rich ArnoldRich Arnold, over 8 years ago

    This effin guy, man...


    2 points
  • Pete Lonsdale, over 8 years ago

    Just don't view the source... eek

    2 points
  • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, over 8 years ago

    I love algorithms! Cool product idea.

    2 points
  • Florent AlixFlorent Alix, over 8 years ago

    I'm surprised too, i looks like a game changing idea ! one step into the future ?

    2 points
    • Jonathan Kimsey, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

      "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit."

      3 points
  • Conlin "Wuz" DurbinConlin "Wuz" Durbin, over 8 years ago

    Had ad-block on, completely shattered the website... Not sure what that means, but it is interesting.

    1 point
  • Bud ParrBud Parr, over 8 years ago

    And I see that there's no database. The content for each site is in markdown files in a github repo, just like a static site generator. Very interesting.

    1 point
    • Dan TocchiniDan Tocchini, over 8 years ago

      Indeed it is. A little historical background: http://bergie.iki.fi/blog/noflo-jekyll/

      Sites on the Grid are statically generated, think a more modern version of Jekyll (the dynamic parts are handled with a lil React.js)

      All content you post into the Grid - whether it be a tweet, a word doc, an article from techcrunch - is normalized into human readable markdown files in your site's repo... every site has a repo.

      In fact, you can just push markdown files to your site's repo & we'll analyze any image to extract colors, faces, etc... so yeah, escape hatches for the nerd-at-hearts

      1 point
  • Ted Kusio, over 8 years ago

    It's too "clean and neat."

    Hope there are plans for some rough edges, randomness, chaos...life.

    0 points
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, over 8 years ago

    I scrolled through the whole thing thinking this was somehow an Adobe Illustrator plugin… feels dumb

    0 points
  • Bud ParrBud Parr, over 8 years ago

    Love to see where things are going and how people are trying to solve some of the web's fundamental problems.

    Wonder if it builds off of something like Flipboard's "Duplo" http://engineering.flipboard.com/2014/03/web-layouts/

    0 points
    • Dan TocchiniDan Tocchini, over 8 years ago

      Not built-off of it, but funny you bring that up. Our system uses something we call "Polyrhythmic Pagination", which accomplishes much of what Duplo is doing. In a nutshell the idea with the polyrhythms is that as there is an inherit rhythm, or beat as you scroll through a long list of content. The newsfeeds of Twitter & Facebook can be seen as a monotous single note, b/c each piece of content looks pretty much the same. Sites designed by humans, like this one, have a noticeable rhythm & variation as you scroll. The Grid's site was built entirely with our AI engine - we didn't explicitly choose those layouts in that order, yet it feels more like a human because of the purposeful variation...

      Though we're automating these type of decisions, and unlike flipboard's duplo, we still need & want designers in the flesh to feed the "solver" as much information as possible. Our "layout filters" have an API where you define high level constraints when a particular layout section ought to be used. For example, one section may only be used if there is a post with a large landscape image with a low-contrast zone on the left half & whose dominant color is dark & only if the previous section is light in color... We have another API that allows designers to generate countless variations from a single layout section. This allows designers to custom craft many types of layouts, but not worry about how the content is actually marshaled in.

      0 points
  • Victor WareVictor Ware, over 8 years ago

    Design by Skynet™

    0 points
  • Thibault MaekelberghThibault Maekelbergh, over 8 years ago

    This seems so good. If I could just try a quick demo of The Grid, this would definitely make me buy a subscription

    0 points
    • Oz LozanoOz Lozano, over 8 years ago

      Same boat, sounds too good to be true... $8/month tho. Tempting.

      1 point
    • Jonathan Kimsey, over 8 years ago

      Maybe as they progress they'll throw up a demo or pass it off to some reputable people to review it. I'd love to see a live demo of this thing for sure!

      0 points