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toucana
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Apple have recently begun listing a new IRC client called Textual 1.0.4 from Codeux Software on their email/chat applications download page

http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/email_chat/textual.html

At 5.4MB it is described as a "lightweight IRC client designed specifically for Mac OS X" with Growl notifications, scripting support, and 'Powerful Tools for IRC Network Operators".

When I downloaded and opened it, there was something oddly familiar about the multi-pane user interface and Lucida Grande font. A quick check of the license and release notes confirmed that Textual 1.0.4 is in fact a rewrite of Limechat, an open source IRC client originally created for OS X in Ruby Cocoa by a Japanese programmer Satoshi Nakagawa about two years ago. I had previously tested Limechat in some detail last year and was keen to see what had been added or taken away in this clone.

Textual 1.0.4 is aimed at users who enjoy the dark theme versions of Limechat in a three pane display format. This means you lose the synoptic 'keyhole window' that was one of the features of Limechat which I really liked. In a tabbed window interface you often spend a lot of time clicking open channel tabs that have just highlighted to indicate recent activity, only to discover that someone said 'HI' or 'LOL'. The synoptic window in Limechat shows a running ticker-tape copy of the most recent lines from all your current channels which gives a much more accurate idea of what is happening. A synoptic keyhole of this type seem to be popular in Japanese IRC clients (NextStep IRC another Japanese client uses it too) but are uncommon in European clients.

The Textual 1.0.4 client adds many more type-in commands than the rather sparse set available in Limechat which recognises only 41 commands. Textual has upped this to 75 commands which include implementations of a number of Oper specific commands such as KILL and SHUN. Another 12 custom user commands are installed as plug-ins written in Applescript, although the application itself has no Applescript Dictionary and is not strictly speaking Apple-scriptable.

The larger problem with Textual is that it has inherited most of the rather idiosyncratic limitations built into its ancestor Limechat. There isn't a NOTIFY function and nor is there any support for DCC CHAT (even though it does support DCC SEND). This renders the client almost useless to a channel @ who makes extensive use of Eggdrop Bots which depend on DCC CHAT as the access method to the DCC party-line control functions.

I have noticed before that newer OS X IRC clients such as Linkinus which is a rather expensive commercial shareware have also dispensed with support for DCC CHAT. I find it inexplicable given that DCC CHAT is technically much simpler to implement than DCC SEND which paradoxically is usually supported. When I wrote to Satoshi Nakgawa last year and asked him why Limechat didn't support DCC CHAT, he told me that he didn't even know that was how Eggdrop Bots worked

Textual 1.0.4 has no help documentation or user manual, but it does have a link to a help channel on WyldRyde.net, so I logged in and asked the developers the same question.
-->
toucana: hi, does Textual support DCC chat in any way ?
acous: dunno toucana, don't see it in any of the menus anyway
Alex: Textual's DCC support is limited to File sharing at this time, because its rarely used its not a first priority
Alex: but it will be added sooner or later
toucana: that is what I thought, it is still used for party line communication with Eggdrop bots
Alex: well you could use telnet until its implemented
] toucana: yes, bit clunky, and not all Eggdrops implement telnet ports
toucana: ok thanks
<---

While I take the point about priorities, you can't help wondering how many novice users are likely to be using the Network Oper commands that have already been implemented in Textual 1.0.4, You might also wonder what type of IRCop is likely to be relying on a client that doesn't have a NOTIFY function and can't talk to a bot.

To be fair Textual 1.0.4 is currently a Beta under development, and the rest of its many functions and interface work neatly and well enough, though I'm not sure why you wouldn't be using its parent Limechat to start with.

17/8/2010

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