🎧 Is Prompting the Future of Coding?

Nick Dobos, maker of the number-one programming GPT, on coding with AI

Every illustration/Mind Goblin Studios.

TL;DR: Today we’re releasing a new episode of our podcast How Do You Use ChatGPT? I go in depth with Nick Dobos, programmer and creator of coding assistant Grimoire, the highest-rated custom GPT for programming. We dive into how prompting is emerging as a new language for programming and use Grimoire to explore the possibilities that this enables. Watch on X or YouTube, or listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

You can go from having an idea to deploying a live website in minutes.

All you have to do is prompt Grimoire, the number-one custom GPT for programming, with an image or even a single word about your idea. As you watch the LLM process your request, Grimoire works with a web host on the backend, and just minutes later, your website will be live on the internet.

Grimoire, which has facilitated over 1 million chats, can help you with a lot more than just making websites: It includes a comprehensive guide to learning how to code, from basic concepts to advanced instruction, and serves as a tool for programmers to find answers to their questions in real time. What’s more, the GPT is fantasy-themed. With references to wizards, goblins, and other creatures of the enchanted realm, using Grimoire is like taking a coding class at Hogwarts.

The creator of Grimoire is Nick Dobos, who was an iOS developer at Twitter until Musk bought the company and laid off a majority of its staff. With plenty of free time suddenly on his hands, Nick started experimenting with ChatGPT, and ended up building Grimoire. He’s since emerged as one of the foremost experts in the world on building successful custom GPTs and coding with ChatGPT. 

I think Grimoire is a platform to examine the possibilities that “prompt-gramming”—an emerging way of coding by prompting AI—can enable. I sat down with Nick to explore what this means about the future of programming, the best way to use the coding assistant, and the role AI plays in his life beyond coding. As we talk, Nick uses Grimoire to build a website about coffee and generate a QR code from its URL live on the show.

This is a must-watch for coders, creative people, and anyone curious about how AI is changing the way we interact with computers. Here’s a taste:

  • Broadening the horizons of who can code. Nick believes that AI tools are already simplifying coding, and will continue to make it easier and quicker. “[I]t's going to massively lower the barrier to how difficult it is to program a computer,” he says.
  • LLMs are forging a new programming language. Grimoire is an example of how “prompt-gramming”—coding by prompting LLMs—is emerging as a new language for programming. “It feels like this new era where I can give [LLMs] a prompt in English [and] it’ll spit out a bunch of code,” Nick says.
  • Use Grimoire to reduce the idea-to-execution delta. Nick thinks Grimoire is different from other custom GPTs because it has “templates” that allow people to jump right into a project, like making a link-in-bio website or doing a prompt-gram tutorial. He says “pre-defin[ing] ideas” into the custom GPT “solve[s] the blank canvas problem” and “give[s] people a list of fun projects to do.” 
  • Create outside the box with Grimoire. Although Grimoire includes the option to start a pre-built project, people can use it to help them code and build anything they’d like. The templates are just “conversation starter button[s],” and “basically, you can come up with any idea.”

Launch a website and generate a QR code in minutes

Nick happens to have a cup of coffee next to him during the interview, and to illustrate his point that Grimoire can be used to bring any concept to life, he decides to use the tool to build a website about coffee. He prompts Grimoire with just two words—“coffee website”—and this is what followed: 

  • Streamline your creative process with AI. In response to Nick’s prompt, Grimoire lists the components of a functional website, like the different pages it should include, and charts a detailed plan to build it. Nick thinks this is helpful because it “break[s] the task into more parts” and “expand[s] on that initial thing.”
  • Use a two-word prompt to ship a website. Grimoire has hotkeys, specific letters on the keyboard that trigger the GPT to execute a pre-programmed function, and Nick uses one that works with hosting provider Netlify to deploy the coffee website. “[T]he website will be ephemeral and will delete itself after one hour, or you can claim it and sign up with Netlify,” Nick explains.
  • Generate a QR code with a single click. After shipping the coffee website, Nick uses a single prompt to have Grimoire create a QR code for the URL. He remarks that “you can do all these crazy little motions that seemed so difficult” and “are now super easy with prompts.”

Learn how to code smarter and faster

When I ask Nick about the best ways for someone to code with Grimoire, this is what he has to say:

  • Answer your coding queries in real time. Nick created Grimoire to double as a curriculum and a tool that can be used to efficiently answer general programming questions, a function he uses Grimoire for himself. “I'll be working on a problem and I'll have a quick question, like, ‘Oh, this thing isn't working’ or ‘How do I make this text underlined?’” he explains.
  • Find conceptual clarity with Grimoire. Nick uses Grimoire to address more fundamental gaps in his understanding while programming.“I’m finding ways you can use it to bridge gaps between ideas…and break down your problem into smaller steps,” he says.
  • Grimoire’s edge over ChatGPT. Nick thinks Grimoire is better than the ordinary version of ChatGPT because it reduces the preparatory back-and-forth that one must normally endure to elicit the best response from a LLM. “I'm trying to bump it into being more truthful, more helpful, more thoughtful,” he says.
  • Grimoire’s hotkeys to save time. According to Nick, Grimoire has an edge over ChatGPT because of the hotkeys, or keyboard shortcuts, that he’s built into it. “I really found myself not wanting to type a lot,” he says, as he demonstrates a hotkey that saves code a user generates using Grimoire by automatically zipping and downloading it. 
  • Stay focused with Grimoire. On a more profound note, Nick also thinks that the finite options presented by the hotkeys ensures that he doesn’t get lost too far down a programming rabbit hole. “It almost reels the thought back in a little bit and puts you back on a sane path,” he says.

You can check out the episode on X, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or YouTube. Links and timestamps are below:

  1. Introduction: 00:00:31
  2. How Nick built Grimoire, the top-ranked GPT for programming: 00:05:20
  3. Ship a website with two words and a single click: 00:10:25
  4. How Grimoire is solving the “blank canvas problem” in AI creation: 00:14:57
  5. The coding curriculum that can take you from zero to full programmer: 00:16:30
  6. Why Grimoire has an edge over ordinary ChatGPT: 00:23:29
  7. Nick’s thoughts on building the system prompt for a GPT: 00:34:10
  8. The utility of AI as a new layer on top of existing apps: 00:40:04
  9. How Nick uses a custom GPT to unpack his emotions: 00:43:11
  10. How to use AI to break down tasks—from programming to daily to-do lists: 00:50:35

What do you use ChatGPT for? Have you found any interesting or surprising use cases? We want to hear from you—and we might even interview you. Reply here to talk to me!

Miss an episode? Catch up on my recent conversations with LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, a16z Podcast host Steph Smith, economist Tyler Cowen, writer and entrepreneur David Perell, Notion engineer Linus Lee, and others, and learn how they use ChatGPT.

If you’re enjoying my work, here are a few things I recommend:

The transcript of this episode is for paying subscribers.

Thanks to Rhea Purohit for editorial support.

Dan Shipper is the cofounder and CEO of Every, where he writes the Chain of Thought column and hosts the podcast How Do You Use ChatGPT? You can follow him on X at @danshipper and on LinkedIn, and Every on X at @every and on LinkedIn.

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