Dustin MihalikBazaarvoice Labs innovates in the “blue sky” of social commerce, designing solutions that meet our clients’ needs often before they ask for them. BV Engineers stay busy yet nimble, keeping pace with the rapidly evolving changes in technology and releasing new Social Commerce beta capabilities every few days.

These were exactly the sort of enthusiasts present at Google’s Hackathon at SXSW Interactive last week, which invited savvy web developers to learn about and experiment with new Google-related technologies. The event allowed Google to provide brief training on many of their platforms – including Google Maps, Android OS, Chrome, and Wave – and offered a place for developers to hang out and play with what they had learned.

Dustin Mihalik, Bazaarvoice Labs engineer, took the opportunity to experiment with HTML5 – and ended up walking away with the first prize for best application. We sat down with Dustin to learn more about the competition and what he built.

What do you do at Bazaarvoice?

I’m an engineer on the BV Labs team. We create proof of concept implementations for new products and features for the Bazaarvoice Platform. This position requires my team to constantly learn about new ideas and technologies in our industry.

Describe the Google Hackathon.

Google had many of their own engineers available for questions or discussions about their technologies. It was great to have access to the engineers, because I could get answers directly from the person working on the technology. Developers could experiment with what they learned to create applications for various Google technologies. At the end of the day, they provided prizes for the most exciting applications and mashups created during the day.

What was your application?

Dustin's application using HTML5I created a multiplayer tank fighting game similar to the original Atari Combat. I used a couple of new features available in HTML5 that are slowly becoming available in Google Chrome and other modern browsers. Traditionally, browser games are written in Flash, but there are some new features in HTML5 that will make it easier to write interactive applications that run in the browser without any extra plugins.

I used the Canvas element for the drawing the battlefield and WebSockets to allow for multiplayer. Anyone who visits the web page gets a tank added to the battle. Then, they are able to drive around and shoot at other players.

What did you get for winning?

Google had a number of Android based phones as prizes for the contest. I picked the Nexus One, and also got a spot on the VIP list for the Google Blogger party that night.

We’re always looking for intelligent and innovative developers to join the Bazaarvoice Labs team. If you know a sharp, talented candidate, refer them here and you could earn up to a $5000 referral bonus.

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