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Wanted Apps: Simple IRC

At Mozilla, as well as a lot of other Free / Open Source Software projects, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is the backbone of real-time communication within the project.

The beauty of this chat service is that it's a really simple and lightweight protocol and there's a ton of different clients to access it, including for example ChatZilla, which is written completely in JavaScript, and multiple web-based clients. The latter would make nice Firefox OS apps, one might think, but their major downsides are that they are all running on the server-side and not really on the device you installed the app in - and their UI doesn't really fit the phone form factor.

Now, what I'd really like to see, though, is an app that runs locally on the Firefox OS device in its entirety, and which has a UI that is useful and nice on a phone. Especially the latter might mean not implementing all the fancy functionality that many IRC clients have, but only those parts required for some simple chatting.

We have the technology to run a full IRC client on a Firefox OS phone with the TCPSocket API, and the simplicity of the IRC protocol would make it a nice reason for someone who wants to play with this API.

The UI, OTOH, would make a very interesting challenge for someone who like UX design, as on a phone, you need to be way more minimalistic, and you probably need to consciously decide what functionality and which elements to leave out, or implement completely differently than what we might be used to.

I'd really love to be able to have an easy way to tell my manager via IRC that I'll be late for a 1:1 while I'm on my way, or be able to make a quick inquiry in a chat channel while I'm traveling.

Anyone up for the challenge?

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on September 8th, 2013 02:57 | Tags: apps, B2G, Firefox OS, Mozilla | 9 comments | TrackBack




from Vancouver, Canada

IRC for the Web
Have you checked out Kiwi IRC? It seems to work quite well in Firefox for Android at least. https://kiwiirc.com
2013-09-08 04:29

Josh Matthews

I spent a bit of time on an extremely basic IRC protocol implementation and client based on the TCPSocket API a while back: https://github.com/jdm/circuity
2013-09-08 04:53



kiwi IRC is just another server-side client with UI that doesn't really fit the phone screen well, from what I saw.
2013-09-09 03:18


I wrote IRC.js yesterday (jet-lag...) it's based on mozTCPSocket, it supports SSL, and I'using on irc.mozilla.org. Sounds good enough for your project? https://github.com/bakulf/irc.js
2013-09-09 12:03



baku, that's great! But it's not "my project", it's just an idea of what I'd like to see someone create (and what I would use on Firefox OS).
2013-09-09 17:43


I can take the challence
Maybe I can take the challence. I took me a while but here's IRCpad. IRCpad is not connected to the real IRC because it's designed to be simple as hell but it can be used in a similar way. Have a look at it https://ircpad.com
Mobile screenshot can be found on the about page.

+ssl security always on
+instant image uploads
+instant link previews
+chat history
+works on almost all devices
+no software installations

-requires registration
-no users yet since it's a new thing
2013-11-20 08:54



Sorry, but IRCPad does NOT do what I would like to see. I want to connect to existing IRC channels, and I want it to be a 100% local app that does not send my messages through any other server than the IRC server I connect to.
2013-11-21 03:18


OK I see. If you have a 100% locally working app in your phone and no servers in between but the IRC server, it basically means that you will get disconnected each time your phone loses a connection for a moment. That also means you won't be able to receive messages during those time periods and your nick keeps changing cause of the timeouts. And when you are travelling, this might happen very often. You may also have to change irc server addresses depending on your current location and the connection. Because IRC requires persistent connection to server, you'll also drain your battery in hours if you'll need to stay on the channels. I just don't see it working that way, but prove me wrong ;)

IRCpad does not send information to any other server. In fact, it is the only server on the whole system. And the connection is encrypted unlike in a typical IRC network so if you're afraid of the privacy, it might actually be better than in a real IRC. The bad thing is to have all the people join there. It's probably something that will never happen.

This is just my opinion :)
2013-11-21 09:45



Quote of IRCpad:
If you have a 100% locally working app in your phone and no servers in between but the IRC server, it basically means that you will get disconnected each time your phone loses a connection for a moment.

Possibly (depends on if the IP socket connection ends up just stalled or if it gets really disconnected - in my experience, the former happens more often than the latter). But that's OK for what I want. And the good side is that I'm not dependent on a third party and have full control of my stuff.

A lot of what we call "privacy", for example, is about having control over your stuff, not that nothing can be published (not that this idea is about privacy, it's more about showing what can be done in purely HTML+JS on the client).

Last edited by KaiRo at 2013-11-21 14:31

2013-11-21 14:30

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