This website is now archived. To find out what BERG did next, go to

Post #5557

Guardian iPad app launched

Congratulations to all the team at The Guardian for launching their iPad app this week.

BERG played a small role at the very beginning of the process with initial product workshops, Nick contributing his experience on iOS prototyping and Jack consulting on the interaction design with Mark Porter and the team.

Andy Brockie who led the internal design team there has put together a great ‘behind-the-scenes’ gallery of the process, and newspaper design guru Mark Porter has an in-depth blog post about his involvement here.

From that post, a snippet about some of the ‘algorithmic-art-director‘ workflow the team invented:

Unlike the iPhone and Android apps, which are built on feeds from the website, this one actually recycles the already-formatted newspaper pages. A script analyses the InDesign files from the printed paper and uses various parameters (page number, physical area and position that a story occupies, headline size, image size etc) to assign a value to the story. The content is then automatically rebuilt according to those values in a new InDesign template for the app.

It’s not quite the “Robot Mark Porter” that Schulze and Jones imagined in the workshops, but it’s as close as we’re likely to see in my lifetime. Of course robots do not make good subs or designers, so at this stage some humans intervene to refine, improve and add character, particularly to the article pages. Then the InDesign data goes into a digital sausage machine to emerge at the other end as HTML.

Fascinating stuff, and perhaps a hint of the near-future of graphic design…

It was a pleasure working with the team there, and Mark especially. The final result looks fantastic, and more importantly perhaps reads beautifully and downloads extremely quickly. Well done to all involved!

And now, we can now finally exclusively reveal our prototype sketch for Robot Mark Porter…

Before this:

After this:

2 Comments and Trackbacks

  • 1. Nicolas said on 13 October 2011...

    I did something like that a few years ago to port a newspaper to a website automatically (we used PDF backj then). It was pretty fun to build actually :

    What was really interesting is you have to detect some kind of meaning from the lay out. Which is a research theme in itself.

  • 2. Max Fenton said on 16 October 2011...

    I’d be more than grateful to hear how these scripts were developed. My means of getting from InDesign to to the web are patched together from the work of far more talented peers, but still in the duct-tape realm of command-lines and applescripts.

Leave a Comment

Popular Tags