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Implementing a simple logging IRC bot


For Boston.rb, we’ve been using a public Campfire provided by thoughtbot as a backchannel during meetings. It’s nice and all, except it doesn’t provide proper logging. For example:

  • If you come into the channel, there’s no way to see what had been previously said.
  • If you lose your connection at some point, like if you close your laptop and take it home, all the discussion you see goes away
  • If you were to try to save the conversation by copy and pasting, you have to massage the copied text a bit to make it less whitespacy

Little known is that there’s actually a protocol out there dedicated to chatting across the series of tubes. It’s called internet relay chat (aka IRC).

Now, IRC itself doesn’t solve these solutions. The advantage is that IRC is an open protocol and has been around a long time. As a result, there are many libraries out there for interacting with it.

I came across one such library, isaac. In a nutshell, it’s a DSL akin to Sinatra, except it’s used for making IRC bots instead of web applications.

Within 15 minutes of finding this library, I managed to whip up a simple bot which just sits in a channel, and logs it to a file. Check it:

require 'rubygems'
require 'isaac'

config do |c|
  c.username = "bostonrbot"
  c.realname = "bostonrb logger bot"
  c.nick    = "bostonrbot"
  c.server  = "irc.freenode.net"
  c.port    = 6667
end

on :connect do
  join "#boston.rb"
end

on :channel, /.*/ do
  open("#{channel}.log", "a") do |log|
    log.puts "#{nick}: #{message}"
  end

  puts "#{channel}: #{nick}: #{message}"
end

For our user group, I plan on moving our back I plan on just running this bot during our meetings, and then emailing the log out afterwards. I could automate more, but this is a really simple first pass.

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