IRCCloud.com review with screenshots - AJAX IRC client / bouncer (BNC)

IRCCloud was added to the "AJAX IRC Clients List" when it first launched (September, 2010). I tested the IRCCloud (beta) service and here are the results.

What is IRCCloud.com?

IRCCloud is an IRC bouncer (BNC) with a HTML5 client interface.

IRCCloud is developed by Richard Jones (co-founder of Last.fm) and James Wheare

How does IRCCloud work?

After creating an account, users are presented with an elegant AJAX-powered web-based IRC client.

Clients are automatically connected to the IRCCloud bouncer, which then initializes a connection to the default IRCCloud IRC server (irc.irccloud.com running Bahamut Internet Relay Chat Daemon (IRCd))

Clients also automatically /join the channel #feedback, a temporary feature for beta testing.

Once logged into the IRC server, clients can change their credentials by clicking the "Edit" button in the network tab.

Users can join a channel via the command line (/join #channel) or by clicking the "Join a channel" link in the network menu. Channel logs are archived, and the logs are loaded with AJAX when you scroll to the top of the conversation.

Chatting in private with another user is done via the command line (/msg nickname message) or by clicking the nickname in the channel's members list.

The private chats can be archived, and accessible from the network tab.

An internal search for backlogs is in the works. Users will also have the ability to download logs in TXT files, as well as to import old logs.

Selecting which words are highlighted in a conversation is done via the Account Settings form. Your own nickname is highlighted by default. Clients can be notified whenever highlighted words appear in a conversation.

There are currently no legal Privacy terms for the IRCCloud service. The developers are focusing on features first. I was informed it will have a standard user privacy policy.

Not all protocols are fully implemented yet (ie. CTCP), but the major ones are working.

PING from IRCCloud client:
/CTCP _1 PING
Unknown command: ctcp
/PING _1
Unhandled line: ":irc.blessed.net PONG irc.blessed.net :_1"

PINGing an IRCCloud client:
/PING modo
[modo PING reply]: 1sec

There is no DCC support (for DCC CHAT or file transfers) right now (a feature for the future, maybe).

Users can join an IRC network by clicking the "Add a network" tab.

IRCCloud has ILINE deals with most majour IRC networks, and more deals to come. IRCCloud clients are able to connect to those networks without any problems. When I tested the client, I was unable to connect to Undernet due to an active GLINE and KLINE. This will be resolved soon. There was a problem with /QUOTE in this screenshot, which has been fixed.

It is also possible to register and identify a nickname with NickServ via the IRCCloud network tab. Click the "Registration instructions" button (or /msg NickServ help register) to see if the network has NickServ. In this example, the identification form is presented for Undernet, which does not feature NickServ.

IRCCloud is a paid service. The connection to the IRCCloud IRC server is free, but a paid subscription is required for connecting to other IRC networks.

What is IRCCloud good for?

Because IRCCloud is an IRC bouncer, it allows users to connect to IRC without using their real IP. This means that IRC users are unable to see the real IP of an IRCCloud user. IRCCloud does not send the client's real IP to the server. An IRCCloud user is identified by ident@irccloud.com

Some ID data about the IRCCloud client/bouncer as seen by a stranger on IRC:
/WHOIS modo
address : u421@irccloud.com
name : modo
identd : ident is on
channel(s) : #dns-p2p
server : efnet.xs4all.nl much better than efnet.port80.se
ssl : modo is using a secure connection
idle : 15secs
signon : December 01 2010
resolved : 1sec
----
/CTCP modo FINGER
[modo FINGER reply]: :An IRCCloud User
----
/CTCP modo VERSION
[modo VERSION reply]: "Irccloud test client 0.1" "Linux 2.6" "github.com/RJ"

----
Freenode also has a gateway address:
u421@gateway/web/irccloud.com/x-pdougfnntoecbauy

Users are connected to their IRC networks and channels even after they close the IRCCloud client. The IRCCloud bouncer keeps them connected to IRC in an idle state. Reconnecting to the IRCCloud client allows users to see what happened on IRC while they were away.

IRCCloud is very similar in terms of functionality to the ZNC IRC BNC. ZNC is said to work on a client interface similar to IRCCloud.

Conclusion

IRCCloud takes AJAX IRC a step further, by introducing the BNC functionality to web-based IRC clients.
The interface takes a few seconds to get used to, and runs very smooth (especially for a beta).
IRCCloud is coded in Erlang, which allows developers to deploy new versions of the backend without disconnecting everybody (a critical feature for this type of application).
It is a paid service though, so not everybody will be able to enjoy it.

An IRC log of the conversation I had with RJ:
[modo] hi
[modo] RJ: thanks for the invite, may I ask some questions here or in prvmsg?
[RJ] modo: sure, ask away in here
[RJ] modo: there's a brief faq linked from the topic
[modo] RJ: how do you deal with kline/gline .. i try to connect to a server that greets me with that
[modo] after i cancel, the connection still shows in "You’ve already connected to" div
[RJ] modo: we have deals with some networks already, we need to make more
[RJ] which network?
[modo] undernet .. i can't send /QUOTE msg to server too
[RJ] we don't currently support quote
[RJ] as for undernet, we will prioritise getting an iline with them, in the meantime it may help to find another undernet host and try that instead
[RJ] hm, are there are reasons not to support quote? it lets you send raw msgs to the ircd, right?
[modo] yes
[RJ] curious what you needed it for, are we missing other shortcuts so you had to try quote?
[modo] they ask a /quote because of ident or something like that
[RJ] ok. we'll add quote support
[modo] will it be possible to send/receive files?
[RJ] modo: probably, altho we do have a bunch of other things to fix/improve first
[RJ] not sure how popular dcc file transfer still is, i've not used it in years
[martind] probably still a great infection vector for trojans
[martind] -> i.e., useful to some
[modo] is there any privacy terms for the logs?
[RJ] modo: we've not written anything yet, the jist will be that only you have access to your logs and we respect your privacy etc
[RJ] modo: ok /quote will work now
[modo] some IMs copyright the logs, and also sell data... I was curious :)
[modo] RJ: thanks, will try
[modo] it works
[modo] don't worry about undernet, i don't really need it
[RJ] well we should make it work
[Unicorn] RJ: quote is also used for /quote codepage on many networks, and /quote help and /quote version on almost all ircds
[modo] this is like ZNC with a HTML5 client interface, I like it
[Unicorn] I heard znc has a web interface module in development

IRCCloud technical specs

BNC: Erlang and PostgreSQL
AJAX client: JQuery, JavaScript, HTML5
License: Proprietary
Web Server: nginx
IRCd: Bahamut, any
SSL: yes
NickServ: yes
Server pass: yes
Browsers: modern versions of Firefox, Chrome and Safari. It currently doesn't work in IE.

References:
https://irccloud.com/
https://github.com/RJ/irccloud-tools
https://github.com/RJ/irccloud-tools/wiki/FAQ
http://www.vedetta.com/ajax-irc-clients-list