Software Review – IRC Clients Part Three: HydraIRC
For our next installment, I chose HydraIRC, an open-source offering that bills itself as a “Professional IRC client”. Like AdiIRC, it started out as one coder’s desire for an IRC client that met all his personal needs. Then, as he says on the site: “..it just became so good so quick everyone else wanted it too.” HydraIRC was designed for Windows XP, but runs under Vista as well. Win95 and NT users, sorry. Does anyone still run either one? <eg>
Acquisition and Installation
HydraIRC can be downloaded here. It’s officially labeled as “experimental” with a version number of 0.3.160, but there’s nothing Beta about using it. It’s stable, and everything that supposed to work, works. It’s about one meg on the download, and requires a bit over 2 megs of space to settle in. Now, I usually don’t fully read EULA’s, but this one was short, and it caught my eye, so I read it through. Not the usual crap. Here’s part of it:
Anyone who is a politician or who works for any form of government body is expressly forbidden to use any version of HydraIRC.
Fileplanet.com and any other site requiring membership of any kind before users are allowed to download HydraIRC are expressly forbidden from hosting any HydraIRC files on their site.
I’m not liable for anything at all.
Good stuff, man.
Installs smoothly, creating desktop and quicklaunch icons if you so desire.
Features and Use
On startup, HydraIRC will prompt you to create an ‘Identity’, not unlike filing in your <snort>real name and email address in mIRC or AdiIRC. HydraIRC supports multiple ‘identities’. There is an identity manager where you can enter a potentially unlimited number of identities then specify which server to use them on. Other clients do this, but none I’ve seen have addressed it this well. Most clients offer you a primary nickname, and an alternate. If both are taken, you can’t connect until you modify the settings. Hydra allows you to enter as many alternate nicks as you desire. handy for very busy networks with no nick registration system. Oh yeah, HydraIRC supports multiple networks, too. As many as you want until your computer or your bandwidth give up, anyway.
While not quite as simple as AdiIRC to use, the interface was intuitive enough for me to learn my way around quickly enough. There is a large list of pre-loaded IRC networks for you to choose from, or you can add your own, such as the server where the Winextra channel is located. After choosing a server and connecting to it, the fist thing that pissed me off I didn’t like reared it’s head. Upon retrieving a channel list from the server (which can take some time for big servers) you can select channel(s) to join, but the channel list window is ‘always on top’ and won’t let you click on anything under it. It must be closed. If you want to join another channel after that, you must reopen the channel list window, and wait for it to populate once again.
The interface is very clean and pleasing. It meshes with Windows quite well, and actually is strongly reminiscent of BOSS, a utility suite coded by Steven a while back. All the IRC clients I’ve seen have the ability to resize and move the windows around to make it more useful for your own needs. HydraIRC has a first, at least for me: Under the ‘View’ menu, there are 5 ‘presets’, each one has the default windows perfectly sized and docked in various configurations. I’m pretty sure one of them will be at least close to your liking. Points for Hydra. Sadly, the ref takes the points back for lack of color scheme adjustment capability.
I encountered no system troubles with HydraIRC. It has a very small footprint, consuming no noticeable CPU cycles, and maximum observed memory usage was under 8,000k. HydraIRC is packed with an uninstaller, which seemed to clean up after itself quite well.
Alas, since this client is marked as ‘experimental’, there are some issues. Some menus are dead-ends, and a few features haven’t been enabled, however, new version have been released frequently, with each revealing new features and tying up loose ends. For me, this isn’t a deal-breaker, as I’ve always enjoyed watching programs progress through adolescence to adulthood, and HydraIRC just might be a college-bound honor student.
Pros: Great, well designed interface, multiple identity manager huge hit with me.
Cons: Not “done” yet, several display-related irritations