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IRC Links: .chat and irc://

 
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Introduction

Before the popularity of WWW based Chat Rooms, IRC was distinct from the Web. Now it's possible to connect to an IRC channel by clicking on an HTML hyperlink in a web browser which will open your IRC client -- similar to the manner of accessing a web-based chat room.  If you have a later version of mIRC, vIRC, or another compliant IRC program and a new version of Internet Explorer, one or more of the following two types of links might work for you.

  1. The first type of link uses the "irc://" format.  It's supported by MS Internet Explorer in conjunction with chat program mIRC version 5.82 or higher and vIRC.  The Mozilla browser will also work with the Chatzilla plugin application.  For web masters and web developers the "irc://" link format is similar to typical hyperlinks.  The format for the latter is
    <A HREF="http://URL">click here</A>

    An example being:

    <A HREF="http://www.io.com/~ambrosio/">click here</A>

    While the format for the former is

    <A HREF="irc://irc server:port number/channel name">click here</A>

    An example being:

    <A HREF="irc://irc.ird.primenet.com:6667/bdsmtexas">click here</A>

    For more information on the "irc://" format links, visit the "irc: URL scheme" (work in progress) at http://www.w3.org/Addressing/draft-mirashi-url-irc-01.txt

  1. The second link is a ".chat" file link.  It's much like a typical ".html" link except that it links to .chat files and that it allows for linking from a web page to an IRC server.  Certain web browsers in combination with Chat programs -- like mIRC, Global Chat (ick), Netscape Chat, etc., -- will work with ".chat" files.  Ideally, when you click on a .chat link, your browser will download a .chat file -- a text file similar to HTML files on web servers. But unlike HTML files, .chat files contain just a few lines of information which serve as directions for opening an IRC channel. As the name implies .chat files end with the extension ".chat"

    But before using .chat links and files, the site visitor will need to configure his browsers to recognize .chat files otherwise the browser will open the files as it would text files.  Look below for configuration instructions. .  (BTW, the ".chat" file is based on a standard established by GlobalChat: http://www.GlobalChat.com/.)
  2. The third type is the NescapeChat ".nsc" link. It's almost the same as the ".chat" files except for the extension and the fact that it only works for .mIRC and NetscapeChat. Instructions for configuring a browser to work with ".nsc" links are included below

I've included irc:// and .chat links on this site. I can't guarantee that they'll work on all systems but the instructions below should help.

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How to Configure your Web Browser to Work With ".chat" or ".nsc" Links

Before you can expect your browser to work with ".chat" links you will have to configure the browser to recognize those types of files and open an IRC application.  mIRC 5.7 or later will automatically configure your settings and install mIRCLink helper application. If that's not the case with your system, follow the instructions below.

  • Configure Netscape to work with the mIRCLink helper application and ".chat" (GlobalChat) or ".nsc" (NetscapeChat) files.
    • Start Netscape and mIRC.
    • In Netscape select "General Preferences" under the "Options" pull-down menu
    • select the "Helpers" tab.
    • In the leftmost column, scroll through the list of File types for "application/x-chat" and "application/x-nschat". If one or both of these lines are listed, then Netscape has already been set up to work with some chat application such as mIRC, NetscapeChat, Chatman or GlobalChat. Check if the "Launch the Application" option is set to launch for both lines, and that a IRC program is selected. Do so by select the 'Browse..' button and select the mlink.exe or mlink32.exe found in the mIRC directory or another IRC application.
    • If no chat application is configured, you can easily get to work. Select the 'Create New Type..' button and fill in :
      Mime Type : application
      Mime SubType : x-chat
      File Extention : chat,cha
      Action : Launch the application : c:\mirc_directory\mlink.exe or mlink32.exe
      (If you are not using mIRC, replace the path for mlink.exe with the path for another IRC application that supports .chat files.) Do the same for the x-nschat Type option.
      Mime Type : application
      Mime SubType : x-nschat
      File Extention : nsc
      Action : Launch the application : c:\mirc_directory\mlink.exe or mlink32.exe
    • Click OK.

  • Configuring MS-Internet Explorer 3.xx to work with ".chat" or ".nsc" files.
    • Start both mIRC and IE (Microsoft Internet Explorer.)
    • In IE go to the "View" pull-down menu then select "Options.."
    • Select "File Types" tab.
    • Scroll through the list of File types looking for "Chat Files". If that item exists, IE has been set up to work with some chat application such as mIRC, NetscapeChat, Chatman, or GlobalChat. The "File Type Details" should be set to something like
      Extention: .cha .chat Content Type: application/x-chat Open with: c:\path\mlink.exe or mlink32.exe
      Extention: .nsc Content Type: application/x-nschat Open with: c:\path\mlink.exe or mlink32.exe
    • If no chat application is configured to work select the 'Add..' button and fill in :
      Description : Chat Files
      Mime Type : application/x-chat
      Suffixes : .chat .cha (to assure proper use of local files)
      Encoding : Text
      Helper Application : c:\mirc_directory\mlink.exe or mlink32.exe
    • Do the same for the Netscape Chat files.
      Description : NetscapeChat Files
      Mime Type : application/x-nschat
      File Extention : .nsc (to assure proper use of local files)
      Encoding : Text
      Action : Launch the application : c:\mirc_directory\mlink.exe or mlink32.exe
    • Click OK

  • Configuring MS-Internet Explorer 4.xx to work with ".chat" or ".nsc" files.
    • Click on a chat link. IF IE4 is not configured to work with ".chat" files, it will present a dialog box with an error message.
    • Click the "open" radio button.
    • Select the "Always do this with this type of file" checkbox.
    • Now open Windows Explorer, select "View"|"Folder Options," and select the "File Types" tab.
    • Choose the "Chat" filetype
    • Edit the "Chat": file type with the full path to your IRC program.
    • click on the "open" method
    • "Edit" the "open" method to get rid of the "%1" which Windows95 insists on using.
    • Click on the "Close" or "Okay" buttons

  • Configuring other browsers.
    • Click on an mIRCLink. Your browser will open an error message like "Unknown MIME type..." and ask you to configure a helper application or viewer.
    • Select the 'Configure External Viewer' option and browse to the directory where your IRC program is located. Select the program file.
    Note: Not all browsers offer the capability to launch helper applications.
  • If you for instance just get a page with 3-4 short lines of text or an error message from your WWW browser then your web browser is not properly configured to work with ".chat" files.

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Developing Web Pages With ".chat" Links

To create ".chat" links you will first have to create ".chat" files. A .chat file is a text file containing the necessary information for opening a particular IRC channel. The file format contains several lines of text, each starting with a keyword followed by a space, and then the value for that keyword. You can specify one or more of the items: Server, Port, Channel, and even a channel key or password.

TITLE <some info on the channel and/or server>
SERVER <complete name of the server including the domain. If no server and port is specified, the current or default server is used.>
PORT <will make mIRC to connect to the specified server on the default port number 6667, unless a PORT is specified.>
CHANNEL <specific name of the channel>
PASSWORD <password: can be included to be enable to join locked channels. optional>

For example

TITLE BDSM Texas
SERVER irc.ird.primenet.com
PORT 6667
CHANNEL bdsmtexas

The .chat file should be placed on the webserver along with all the other files for your website -- such as the image files and the HTML files.

You will also need to create hyperlinks for the .chat file. Unlike the "irc://" link, the ".chat" link follows the regular hyperlink format except for the type of file selected -- "filename.CHAT" instead of "filename.HTML."

The typical format for a hyperlink is

<A HREF="http://URL">click here</A>

An example being:

<A HREF="http://www.EvilMonk.org/A/index.html">http://www.EvilMonk.org/A/index.html</A>

While an example of a .chat link would be:

<A HREF="http://www.EvilMonk.org/A/docs/bdsmtexas.chat">http://www.EvilMonk.org/A/docs/bdsmtexas.chat</A>
However, some webservers do not properly handle chat files. If you click on a link for a .chat file, your browser shows the contents of .chat file, and the channel won't open in your IRC program then the web master needs to place a .htaccess file in the directory that contains the chat files. The .htaccess file will need to include the following line:
AddType application/x-chat chat
With a properly configured .htaccess file, the WWW server will be able to pass instructions to the browsers on how to deal with the .chat file. (The .htaccess file must be a text file.)

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Downloads

BrowsersIRC Programs

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Submit IRC Links

If you have a favorite IRC channel that you'd like to see listed, please send me information -- a description, regular meeting times, irc:// link, .chat file, etc., -- at my email address. If I think it's relevant, I'll post it.

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Further Reading

 
 

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