Rochester Computer Programmers Win International Coding Competition

The Rochester, N.Y., team one of only two entries from the U.S. to win

Rochester, NY, September 21, 2011 --( Rochester-js, a local web development team, has won first place in the design category of the international Node.js Knockout competition.

The contest invites web developers and designers from around the world to compete against each to create web apps using the Node.js computer programming language. The catch is that competitors are given only 48 hours to completely code, design and launch a working app. Teams from Singapore, Italy, South Africa and more all competed for thousands of dollars in prizes.

The Rochester team’s winning entry was an acronym creation game called Acronode (play it online now at The game gives players 3 to 7 letters each round from which they must create “backronyms.” For example, the letters N, P, F and E might produce the submission, “Narwhal Protuberances Fight Evil.” After submitting their “backronyms,” players vote for their favorite of all the submissions. The player with the most votes receives points and the next round begins.

The Rochester team’s submission was nearly a photo finish, according to Adam Lindsay, one of the group’s programmers and owner of Next Feature, a local web development, ecommerce and hosting company.

“We were literally coding right down to the wire. I think we uploaded the last of our code with less than five minutes left,” said Lindsay, who has participated in several similar development competitions. “The prizes are obviously a big incentive for participating and putting so much time into this competition. But it also gives you an opportunity to work on a project that has nothing to do with your normal kind of work.”

Those sentiments were echoed by David Moffitt, one of the group’s designers and creative director of Going to the Sun Marketing, a local full-service marketing firm.

“Our clients don’t typically have us building applications that take advantage of the massive concurrency and speed that Node.js provides,” he said. “So I would never have had an excuse to play with it. But I feel like by learning it during this competition, I have a much better grasp of the technology for when it becomes more widely adopted.”

The Node.js programming language bypasses traditional, slower Internet technologies to deliver lightning fast information retrieval. Google uses similar programming to offer real-time suggestions and results through their search engine. Moffitt says that more widespread use of Node.js will result in a much faster web experience for users in the years to come.

In last year’s competition, the Rochester-js team placed fifth in overall design with a virtual chase game they created using the GPS technology in mobile devices. The game was influenced by the movie and campus game, “Gotcha!” For this year’s winning entry, the team took their design inspiration from the packaging of 70s and 80s video and computer games.

“It was sort of an homage back to the old console games,” said Moffitt. “We thought, ‘why not make it look like an old video game box?’ The packaging and promotional art of those old video games like Atari, Activision and others use very vibrant, bold colors that worked well with our game.”

More than 720 contestants, comprising 294 teams competed in the two day competition. Rochester-js was one of only two teams from the U.S. to win one of the seven judging categories. The only other U.S. winner was a two man team from Sunnyvale, Calif.

“I was really proud of what we did,” said Moffitt. “I thought we’d done something really innovative and cutting edge, but I didn’t know we were going to win. It was such a shock and a pleasant surprise.”

For their winning efforts, each Rochester-js team member will receive the Adobe’s Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium software, a Jawbone JAMBOX from Spreecast, a one year GitHub subscription, 50 gigabytes of cloud storage from Dropbox and more.

With the competition over, Lindsay still sees lots of untapped potential in the project, which simply couldn’t be fully realized in the relatively short amount of competition time. In the future, he hopes to add the ability to chat with others in the game, along with bots to play against humans if no one else is logged in.

“It’s still very much a work in progress,” he said. “We’re not even close to done.”

Going to the Sun Marketing
Travis Clark