Node Knockout 2011 -- Top Entries to Watch

Barely two-and-a-half years old, Node.js is designed to handle thousands of simultaneous requests in real time. If Twitter were built from scratch today, for example, the backend could be Node.js. This open-source language powers sites including Etsy, Uber and Yammer, and it's very well-suited to building massive multiplayer online games [ see our story on Node.js ].

The second annual Node Knockout, Aug. 27-29, gave developers exactly 48 hours to build a Node-based web app. The competition's 175 judges have until tomorrow, Sept. 6, to pick winners in seven categories -- including overall team and best solo project -- from the 177 entries. The masses pick the "most popular" winner.

The top prize at Node Knockout 2010 went to Swarmation, a multiplayer "pixel formation" game which is still up but hasn't gone anywhere.

The most popular entry from 2010 was an addictive multiplayer version of Scrabble, then known as Scrabbly and now called WordSquared. It's the first game from Seattle-based social game company Massively Fun. According to its AngelList profile, MassivelyFun is planning tablet and phone versions of WordSquared.

Here are the three 2011 entries with the most votes so far.


You can use Chartbeat to track which pages people are visiting on your site right now and where traffic is coming from, but Observer literally lets you see what people are doing on your site once you place a single script at the bottom of the page -- how long before they click a button, how they navigate the page, which keyboard shortcuts they use, etc. The sessions are recorded so you can watch them whenever you want. It's not clear, though, whether users would have the ability to opt out of your big-brother observations.

Sign up for a free account or watch a demo of activity on the Observer site. Creator Arnout Kazemier plans to make this a real business if he wins best solo project.

CREATOR: Speedo is @3rdEden


Eight Bit Beats

Rather than play music or watch videos together, how about literally making music? Eight Bit Beats is designed for building beats and melodies collaboratively.

Get started by picking a DJ name and receive a random eight-bit avatar. Choose the sound -- bass, synthesizer, etc. -- then plop a pixel anywhere in your sequencer and wait for the eight-bit runner to ping it (and those above and below yours) as he runs across the top of the page. Combinations can sound downright painful, but sometimes random DJs actually make something you would dance to. Type anywhere to start chatting with your fellow DJs.

When the contest is over, the Eight Bit Beats team told LAUNCH it plans to add rooms a la Turntable and the ability to record tracks. Right now, the eight-bit avatars are plucked from The founder of digs the project, though, and will open its API so those with avatars can bring them into Eight Bit Beats.

TEAM: Something Coded is @mtoymil, @travhimself, @joshontheweb and @bundy_kim


[ Note: The developers are from Mahalo, a company we work literally right next to, but they were already leading the popular vote when we spoke to them. ]


Itching for something sexier than PowerPoint? Pitchography makes presentations with pretty, moving type that you can control with your iPhone (that's where Node.js comes in).

Creating a presentation right now requires using the syntax you see on the right-hand side, so it's not yet ready for the masses. Can't save or export your presentation yet either, features that would likely come once the contest is over.

TEAM: Kibu is krisoft, balintferenczi and sly010


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