Microsoft announces 10k Apart contest for web developers

10k apart

The 5k contest ran from 2000 until 2002. Back in 2010, Microsoft revived the idea by partnering with An Event Apart with an updated limit and a new name: 10k Apart. Today, Microsoft announced that the 10k Apart contest is back and brings with it a handful of new challenges described below. Microsoft will be giving away $10,000 to the top three entries, plus tickets to An Event Apart, complete collections of A Book Apart titles, and copies of my book too.

  • Each page must be usable in 10kB or less. The 10kB limit no longer applies to the size of a ZIP archive of your entry; the 10kB limit now applies to the total initial download size of the baseline experience of each page in your project. When we say “baseline experience,” we’re talking small screen devices running older, less capable browsers. The 10kB limit will apply to every page and whatever assets it loads by default; that means images, CSS, JavaScript, and so on.
  • Progressive enhancement is the name of the game. Your project should start with a super-basic, bare-bones-but-usable experience that will work no matter what (including without JavaScript). You can use clever CSS and JavaScript techniques to enhance that experience as it makes sense to do so. For example: You might lazy load an image using JavaScript if the screen size is above a certain threshold or when certain other conditions are met. Entries that depend entirely on JavaScript to render the front-end won’t be accepted. If you need a primer on progressive enhancement, consult the pages of A List Apart.
  • Back ends are in this year. In previous iterations, each entry comprised client-side code submitted via ZIP file. Over time, that limitation led to an over-reliance on JavaScript for rendering. No more. This year, you can create dynamic experiences that work without front-end JavaScript using Node, PHP, Python or .Net. You will submit your entry as public GitHub repository (so we can all learn from your awesome code) and we’ll spin up a dedicated Azure instance running the appropriate stack.
  • Entries should be accessible. In line with the philosophy of progressive enhancement, your entry should be usable by the broadest number of users possible. Accessibility is not a checklist, but if you’re clueless about where to start, these techniques can offer some guidance.
  • Nothing comes for free. In previous years, we gave a pass if you wanted to use jQuery or load some fonts from Typekit. This year we decided to change it up, not because we don’t love these products (we do), but because we wanted to force every piece of code, every asset, to fight for its place in your entry. Anything you add should be added with purpose.

Read more about this contest here.

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