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Node.js Knockout 2011 Winners Revealed

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Joyent has revealed the winners of Node Knockout, the annual Node.js hacking competition it sponsors. This year’s hackathon, which encourages developers to build apps using the increasingly popular server-side JavaScript environment Node.js, included over 320 teams with more than 700 people competing. That’s a big jump from the 100 teams and 250 participants seen in 2010.

The resulting winners are a diverse bunch, including everything from games and YouTube battle parties (we’ll explain…) to practical tools aiding in website design and game development.

Here are this year year’s winners:

Overall Winner & Solo Winner: Observer 

Observer is tool designed to help you better understand your website visitors’ behavior by watching them navigate your site in real-time. You can see what the users are typing, what they’re clicking and even what keyboard shortcuts they’re using. You can also immediately start a chat session with a website visitor who appears to need assistance.

If you don’t have time to track all your users, you can store sessions for later playback. And all of this functionality can be implemented through a simple one-script installation.

Overall Team Winner: Eight Bit Beats

Eight Bit Beats is a collaborative, social beat and melody sequencer. Upon loading the site, you enter your name/handle, choose a sound board (DJ, Drum Kit, Special FX, etc.) and then start to add music to a collaborative track made with others.

Public Popularity Winner: Driv.in

For even more fun, check out Driv.in, the YouTube battle party. The idea is that you create rooms on the site so that you and your friends can watch videos together in real-time. Now, where have we heard about something like that before?

Yep, it’s pretty much the same thing as Chill, with the synchronous video watching, video DJ’ing, built-in chat and all. The only difference is that the “room” looks like a drive-in theater, not a movie theater as in Chill. Oh, and Drive.in has the added benefit of being able to throw tomatoes at the videos you hate. Take that, Rebecca Black!

Most Utility /Fun Winner: Doodle or Die

Doodle or Die is basically an iteration on Pictionary, where you are given things to draw and have to guess what others have drawn. The site is pretty basic, but the team is working on furthering the project as an iPad /iPhone/Android app that will be called Doodleblast.

Best Design Winner: ACROnode.com

ACROnode is a slightly more intellectually challenging game than the above, and it’s loosely based on the original Acrophobia IRC game. Players are given a random acronym and are challenged to create “backronyms.” For example, when presented with “NBAM” you might play “Narwhal Bacons At Midnight.”

Players score each other’s backronyms and receive points based on the number of votes, and for being the first to submit their backronym. It’s geeky, funny and, as indicated by the win, pretty to look at, too.

Most Innovation Winner: Blue GPU Lava 

Returning to the more practical entries, Blue Lava is a small demo showing the node-webgl library. The entry is the open source library itself, not the visualization/demo. With this, developers can create advanced video games for modern platforms using Node.js. This library specifically targets the HP TouchPad. However, it can run on other platforms. Here’s the demo in action.

 Most Complete Winner: Chess@home

Chess@home is a project whose goal is to break the current world record for the largest Chess AI. It will use JavaScript and Node to organize the largest chess ever on a future “D-Day” to pit a Chess Grand Master against thousands of computers. The question is, can a JavaScript-based AI beat a Grand Master? Or will the human beat the machines?

In the meantime, you can play against the networked machines to test your own skills.

Those are all of this year’s winners, but if you’re curious about the other projects that emerged from the hackathon, you can check out the full list of entries here.