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10k Is the New 5k

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Back in the more innocent and bandwidth-deprived years of the early 21st century, Stewart Butterfield, a Flickr co-founder, dreamed up a curious contest called The 5k. The challenge was to create the most interesting and beautiful Web page possible using only five kilobytes of code and media. The idea was that rules and constraints prompt creativity; necessity is the mother of invention.

The ubiquity of high-bandwidth cable and DSL connections hasn't diminished that bit of wisdom. Yet the challenge is much more difficult today. Given evolving technologies and evolving expectations, it's hardly possible to sneeze on the Web in less than 5k. As the web matures, pages have become applications, and applications have lots of moving parts.

Nevertheless, the esteemed web development blog A List Apart has revived the challenge after an 8-year dormancy. Except now it's called 10K Apart, because, the site's developers assert, "10K is the new 5K." The results are still extremely impressive, and they're rich with practices and techniques that might evolve into best practices and standard techniques.

Winners were announced on September 21. The grand prize went to Hakim El Hattab for his simple but entrancing game Sinuous, coded in all of 6.9 kilobytes. For the technically inclined, Sinuous uses ECMAScript and the HTML5 Canvas element, now supported in Internet Explorer 9, so that no images need to be loaded; the whole game, a test of your manual dexterity, is built and operated in pure code.

The three runners-up are also all games: Fontanero, crowned Best Technical Achievement, is a tribute to Mario that also uses Canvas and is built with pure JavaScript. Best Design winner Matchuppps, a Concentration-like memory game in which you're cheered on, bizarrely, by a play-by-play basketball announcer. People's Choice winner RBG Invaders--I'll let you guess what that's about. All of them prove that lots of fun can come in very small packages.

This story, "10k Is the New 5k" was originally published by BrandPost.