The release of OS X Lion brought a lot of new great features. One thing we were specifically interested in was plugin support for the new iChat 6 in OS X Lion. We use IRC throughout the day to exchange new ideas, to share links with design concepts and for casual discussions. In OS X Snow Leopard we used the versatile and free Adium that has built-in IRC support. iChat gained some amazing features and usability improvements with the introduction of OS X Lion. The thing that made me anxious every time I’ve seen iChat running on other people’s machines was the overall aesthetics and lightness of its user interface.
It seems that several weeks after Apple’s announcement there’s still no third-party plugin for iChat. We thought that we can improve the situation and show a first proof of concept that lets you connect to IRC servers. Apple provides great developer documentation and some examples on which we built this plugin. After you download the free plugin you need to move it to the “/Library/iChat/PlugIns” folder. Then you have to restart iChat and you can add a new account in its preferences. iChat should automatically connect you to the server and you can try to enter some basic commands (e.g. try to connect to “irc.freenode.net” on port 6667 and then join the ##mac channel with “/join ##mac”).
Keep in mind that this is just a first proof of concept that doesn’t deliver the whole IRC experience in iChat. Basic commands work though and you can use iChat to chat with your friends and colleagues over IRC.
Please let us know if you have problems, questions, or suggestions on improving the plugin.