As a lot of people close to me know, I am a very avid IRC user. I like the simplicity of IRC and how easy it is to set up your own node. I like how the protocol is easily scriptable for and think that a lot of the extensions are well thought out and useful.
That being said, a lot about the protocol is absolute garbage. It is poorly understood by nearly all but the most sophisticated developers and a lot of companies that offer IRC gateways to things half-ass it. Not to mention of course the other core problem that ircd in 2015 acts the same way as ircd in 2005 did.
Every time your TCP socket to the server dies, your session is deleted and you need to start over from scratch. Bouncers basically just make it harder for the TCP socket to die by having another server with a (hopefully) more stable connection keep your IRC socket open. You have to verify your identity to a bot in order to get access to places from another bot, and if you're lucky that will be done by default and not require additional commands in order to enter invite-only secret rooms. You'll have to be even luckier to have an IRC server or bot setup that caches the most recent channel messages so you have context to what is going on there. Private messages are one-to-one and adding another person to a conversation means having to create a private channel, meaning you just bring on the pain points mentioned earlier.
Things like this are also causing IRC networks to slowly hemmorage users to things that do the job even worse like Slack, Skype and Telegram.
It's a mess. There has got to be a better way, one that lets you still have channel moderation controls, doesn't have clients that look terrible in comparison, still lets you have file uploads and the like, seamless mobile integration and not losing messages when connecting from a different device.
Luckily, we live in the future, and there is an option. This option is Matrix.
From a high level, it will look like the new XMPP. It kind of is, but at its core it is far superior to XMPP in my opinion. Its protocol is nothing more than JSON over HTTPS. It is built for multi-user rooms from the beginning instead of half-assing it in an extension. Its reference home server synapse is under the permissive Apache license. You can even set up your own homeserver and have it federate to other home servers, or if you like you can also choose not to.
You can even join channels hosted on IRC networks like Freenode or Moznet by
joining channels formatted like
#freenode_#ipfs:matrix.org or their main home
#matrix:matrix.org. The bridging is seamless, with one matrix user
created per active IRC user and vice versa.
Usage of matrix via the Vector client is very simple:
My current home-base on Matrix is
#ponydevs:matrix.org and I'd love see you
in there too.
TL;DR: IRC is dying, Matrix is a very valid sucessor. Matrix has u.
This article was posted on M11 27 2015. Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.
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The art for Mara was drawn by Selicre.
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