/ Flatiron School

Cinch IRC bot Setup

I've been wanting to setup an IRC bot for a while and finally got a chance last weekend. It was both free and easy to do using the Ruby Cinch bot framework, Heroku for hosting, and Freenode for the room.  Here's how you can make your own little bot friend as well.

Before getting started, if you don't already have an IRC channel to use it on, follow the instructions in getting started with IRC to set one up. You can make a room for anything.

Creating the basic bot

We're going to use Github and Heroku so setup a Git repository and clone it locally.

Next we'll setup the bot. We will start with a very simple bot that just replies to '!hello' and then give resources on how to add more features after that.

The bot itself only needs a few files and thanks to Cinch they can all be in the root directory of the app.

# File: /Gemfile
# =================

source 'https://rubygems.org'

gem 'cinch'
# There are also Cinch plugins that you can add here later
# File: /bot.rb
# ===================

# This is the actual bot config and command logic 
#! /usr/bin/env ruby

require 'cinch'

bot = Cinch::Bot.new do
  configure do |c|
    c.server = 'irc.freenode.net'
    c.user = 'BotName'
    c.nick = 'BotName'
    c.realname = 'My Bot'
    c.channels = '#your-channel-name'

  on :message, "!hello" do |m|
    m.reply "Why hello there."

# File: /config.ru
# ==================

# This can literally be empty, but you need to have the file.
# File: /Procfile
# =================

# Here we will specify commands for Heroku to start the bot.
web: echo "foobar" > /dev/null
bot: bundle exec ruby bot.rb

Deploy to Heroku

Next push it up to Heroku and start it up with these commands:

heroku create
git push heroku master
heroku scale web=0
heroku scale bot=1

Now if you type '!hello' into your IRC channel the bot should reply!

Creating commands for the bot

(aka, what can I do with this?)

Now that you have a working bot that accepts input and gives output back, you can have it do all kinds of things. It's great for work related things or just for having fun. It could make snarky replies to words said in the channel, play games, lookup information on the web, talk to APIs, whatever you want. We're in the internet of things now! Make it tell you when there's a new pot of coffee or when you're roommate is stealing your Ice Cream.

Here are a few resources to give you some ideas:

Lastly, this post is about the fun things you can do with good ol' IRC. But if you want to have fun with chat and want to play with something a little more current check out the Slack API. Slack is wonderful, the API has lots of great options.

Thanks to davidboy for his example app that got me started building this.