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picoirc(n) 0.13.0 tcllib "Simple embeddable IRC interface"


picoirc - Small and simple embeddable IRC client.

Table Of Contents


  • package require Tcl 8.6
  • package require picoirc ?0.13.0?


This package provides a general purpose minimal IRC client suitable for embedding in other applications. All communication with the parent application is done via an application provided callback procedure. Each connection has its own state so you can hook up multiple servers in a single application instance.

To initiate an IRC connection you must call picoirc::connect with a callback procedure, a nick-name to use on IRC and the IRC URL that describes the connection. This will return a variable name that is the irc connection context. See CALLBACK for details.

This package is a fairly simple IRC client. If you need something with more capability investigate the irc package.


::picoirc::connect callback nick ?password? url

Creates a new irc connection to the server specified by url and login using the nick as the username and optionally password. If the url starts with ircs:// then a TLS connection is created. The callback must be as specified in CALLBACK. Returns a package-specific variable that is used when calling other commands in this package.

Note: For connecting via TLS the Tcl module tls must be already loaded, otherwise an error is raised.

# must be loaded for TLS
package require tls
# default arguments
tls::init -autoservername true -command workaround \
    -require 1 -cadir /etc/ssl/certs -tls1 0 -tls1.1 0
# avoid annoying bgerror, errors are already catched internally
proc workaround {state args} {
    if {$state == "verify"} {
        return [lindex $args 3]
::picoirc::post context channel message

This should be called to process user input and send it to the server. If message is multiline then each line will be processed and sent individually. A number of commands are recognised when prefixed with a forward-slash (/). Such commands are converted to IRC command sequences and then sent. If channel is empty then all raw output to the server is handled. The default action is to write the message to the irc socket. However, before this happens the callback is called with "debug write". This permits the application author to inspect the raw IRC data and if desired to return a break error code to halt further processing. In this way the application can override the default send via the callback procedure.


The callback must look like:

proc Callback {context state args} {

where context is the irc context variable name (in case you need to pass it back to a picoirc procedure). state is one of a number of states as described below.


called just before the socket is created


called once we have connected, before we join any channels


called when the socket gets closed, before the context is deleted. If an error occurs before we get connected the only argument will be the socket error message.

userlist channel nicklist

called to notify the application of an updated userlist. This is generated when the output of the NAMES irc command is seen. The package collects the entire output which can span a number of output lines from the server and calls this callback when they have all been received.

userinfo nick info

called as a response of WHOIS command. nick is the user the command was targeted for. info is the dictionary containing detailed information about that user: name, host, channels and userinfo. userinfo typically contains name and version of user's IRC client.

chat target nick message type

called when a message arrives. target is the identity that the message was targetted for. This can be the logged in nick or a channel name. nick is the name of the sender of the message. message is the message text. type is set to "ACTION" if the message was sent as a CTCP ACTION. type is set to "NOTICE" if the message was sent as a NOTICE command, in that case target is empty if it matches current user nick or it's "*", in later case empty target means that notice comes from server.

mode nick target flags

called when mode of user or channel changes. nick is the name of the user who requested a change, can be empty if it's the server. target is the identity that has its mode changed. flags are the changes in mode.

system channel message

called when a system message is received

topic channel topic

called when the channel topic string is seen. topic is the text of the channel topic.

traffic action channel nick ?newnick?

called when users join, leave or change names. action is either entered, left or nickchange and nick is the user doing the action. newnick is the new name if action is nickchange.

NOTE: channel is often empty for these messages as nick activities are global for the irc server. You will have to manage the nick for all connected channels yourself.


This is called to request a version string to use to override the internal version. If implemented, you should return as colon delimited string as


For example, the default is

PicoIRC:[package provide picoirc]:Tcl [info patchlevel]

debug type raw

called when data is either being read or written to the network socket. type is set to read when reading data and write if the data is to be written. raw is the unprocessed IRC protocol data.

In both cases the application can return a break error code to interrupt further processing of the raw data. If this is a read operation then the package will not handle this line. If the operation is write then the package will not send the data. This callback is intended for debugging protocol issues but could be used to redirect all input and output if desired.

See Also

rfc 1459


chat, irc