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A lightweight IRC framework.

Project description


Python 3.4+ Available on PyPI. License: MIT

A relatively simple thread-safe(-ish) IRC client framework.

To install miniirc, simply run pip3 install miniirc.

If you have previously used miniirc, you may want to read the deprecations list (last updated 2020-04-28).

This repository is available on both GitHub and GitLab.


irc = miniirc.IRC(ip, port, nick, channels=None, *, ssl=None, ident=None, realname=None, persist=True, debug=False, ns_identity=None, auto_connect=True, ircv3_caps=set(), quit_message='I grew sick and died.', ping_interval=60, ping_timeout=None, verify_ssl=True, executor=None)

Note that everything before the * is a positional argument.

Typical usage

You don't need to add every argument, and the ip, port, nick, and channels arguments should be specified as positional arguments.

irc = miniirc.IRC('', 6697, 'my-bot', ['#my-channel'], ns_identity=('my-bot', 'hunter2'), executor=concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor(), keepnick=True)

If you are not doing anything with the main thread after connecting to IRC, please call irc.wait_until_disconnected() to prevent Python from trying to shut down while miniirc is still connected, breaking thread pools (in Python 3.9 and later).


Parameter descriptions

Parameter Description
ip The IP/hostname of the IRC server to connect to.
port The port to connect to.
nick The nickname of the bot.
channels The channels to join on connect. This can be an iterable containing strings (list, set, etc), or (since v1.5.0) a comma-delimited string.
ssl Enable TLS/SSL. If None, TLS is disabled unless the port is 6697.
ident The ident to use, defaults to nick.
realname The realname to use, defaults to nick as well.
persist Whether to automatically reconnect.
debug Enables debug mode, prints all IRC messages. This can also be a file-like object (with write mode enabled) if you want debug messages to be written into a file instead of being printed to stdout, or a function (for example logging.debug).
ns_identity The NickServ account to use as a tuple/list of length 2 (('<user>', '<password>')). For compatibility, this can be a string ('<user> <password>').
auto_connect Runs irc.connect() straight away.
ircv3_caps A set() of additional IRCv3 capabilities to request. SASL is auto-added if ns_identity is specified.
connect_modes A mode string (for example '+B') of UMODEs to set when connected.
quit_message Sets the default quit message. This can be modified per-quit with irc.disconnect().
ping_interval If no packets are sent or received for this amount of seconds, miniirc will send a PING, and if no reply is sent, after the ping timeout, miniirc will attempt to reconnect. Set to None to disable.
ping_timeout The ping timeout used alongside the above ping_interval option, if unspecified will default to ping_interval.
verify_ssl Verifies TLS/SSL certificates. Disabling this is not recommended as it opens the IRC connection up to MiTM attacks. If you have trouble with certificate verification, try running pip3 install certifi first.
executor An instance of concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor to use when running handlers.
keepnick If enabled, miniirc will attempt to obtain the original nick like ZNC's *keepnick. irc.nick will be the original nickname rather than the current one.

The only mandatory parameters are ip, port, and nick.


Function Description
change_parser(parser=...) See the message parser section for documentation.
connect() Connects to the IRC server if not already connected.
ctcp(target, *msg, reply=False, tags=None) Sends a CTCP request or reply to target.
debug(...) Debug, calls print(...) if debug mode is on.
disconnect(msg=..., *, auto_reconnect=False) Disconnects from the IRC server. auto_reconnect will be overridden by self.persist if set to True.
Handler(...) An event handler, see Handlers for more info.
me(target, *msg, tags=None) Sends a /me (CTCP ACTION) to target.
msg(target, *msg, tags=None) Sends a PRIVMSG to target. target should not contain spaces or start with a colon.
notice(target, *msg, tags=None) Sends a NOTICE to target. target should not contain spaces or start with a colon.
quote(*msg, force=False, tags=None) Sends a raw message to IRC, use force=True to send while disconnected. Do not send multiple commands in one irc.quote(), as the newlines will be stripped and it will be sent as one command. The tags parameter optionally allows you to add a dict with IRCv3 client tags (all starting in +), and will not be sent to IRC servers that do not support client tags.
send(*msg, force=False, tags=None) Sends a command to the IRC server, treating every positional argument as a parameter. The usage of this is recommended over irc.quote() unless you know what you are doing.
wait_until_disconnected() Waits until the IRC server is disconnected and automatic reconnecting is turned off.

Note that if force=False on irc.quote (or irc.msg etc is called) while miniirc is not connected, messages will be temporarily stored and then sent once miniirc is connected. Setting force=True will throw errors if miniirc is completely disconnected (irc.connected is None).

irc.quote and irc.send

The two functions irc.quote and irc.send may sound similar, however are fundamentally different: irc.quote() joins all provided arguments with spaces and sends them as a raw message to IRC, while irc.send() treats each argument as a parameter. If arguments passed to irc.send() contain spaces, they are replaced with U+00A0 (a non-breaking space, visually similar to a regular space however not interpreted as one).


  • irc.quote('PRIVMSG', '#channel :Hello,', 'world!') sends "Hello, world!" to #channel.
  • irc.quote('PRIVMSG', '#channel', 'Hello, world!') is invalid ("Hello," and "world!" are sent as separate parameters).
  • irc.send('PRIVMSG', '#channel', 'Hello, world!') will send "Hello, world!" to "#channel".
  • irc.send('PRIVMSG', '#channel :Hello,', 'world!') will send "world!" to #channel\xa0:Hello,, where \xa0 is a non-breaking space.

If you are unsure and do not need compatibility with miniirc <1.5.0, use irc.send(). PRIVMSG is just used as an example, if you need to send PRIVMSGs use irc.msg() instead.


These variables should not be changed outside

Variable Description
active_caps A set of IRCv3 capabilities that have been successfully negotiated with the IRC server. This is empty while disconnected.
connected A boolean (or None), True when miniirc is connected, False when miniirc is connecting, and None when miniirc is not connected.
current_nick The bot/client's current nickname. Do not modify this, and use this instead of irc.nick when getting the bot's current nickname.
isupport A dict with values (not necessarily strings) from ISUPPORT messages sent to the client.
msglen The maximum length (in bytes) of messages (including \r\n). This is automatically changed if the server supports the capability.
nick The nickname to use when connecting to IRC. Until miniirc v2.0.0, you should only use or modify this while disconnected, as it is currently automatically updated with nickname changes.

The following arguments passed to miniirc.IRC are also available: ip, port, channels, ssl, ident, realname, persist, connect_modes, quit_message, ping_interval, verify_ssl.


miniirc.Handler and miniirc.CmdHandler are function decorators that add functions to an event handler list. Functions in this list are called in their own thread when their respective IRC event(s) is/are received. Handlers may work on every IRC object in existence (miniirc.Handler) or only on specific IRC objects (irc.Handler).

The basic syntax for a handler is as followed, where *events is a list of events (PRIVMSG, NOTICE, etc) are called.

import miniirc
@miniirc.Handler(*events, colon=False)
def handler(irc, hostmask, args):
    # irc:      An 'IRC' object.
    # hostmask: A 'hostmask' object.
    # args:     A list containing the arguments sent to the command. Everything
    #             following the first `:` in the command is put into one item
    #             (args[-1]). If "colon" is "False", the leading ":" (if any)
    #             is automatically removed. To prevent your code from horribly
    #             breaking, always set it to False unless you know what you are
    #             doing.

Recommendations when using handlers:

  • If you don't need support for miniirc <1.4.0 and are parsing the last parameter, setting colon to False is strongly recommended. If the colon parameter is omitted, it defaults to True, however this will change when miniirc v2.0.0 is released.
  • Although Handler and CmdHandler currently accept any object that can be converted to a string, every event is converted to a string internally.
  • Not specifying the ircv3 parameter when it is not required prevents a redundant dict from being created.
  • To add handlers to a specific IRC object and not every one in existence, use irc.Handler and irc.CmdHandler instead. If you want to create a Bot or Client class and automatically add handlers to IRC objects created inside it, see making existing functions handlers.

Hostmask object

Hostmasks are tuples with the format ('user', 'ident', 'hostname'). If ident and hostname aren't sent from the server, they will be filled in with the previous value. If a command is received without a hostmask, all the hostmask elements will be set to the name of the command. This is deprecated, however, and when miniirc v2.0.0 is released the hostmask elements will be set to empty strings.

Making existing functions handlers

You can make existing functions handlers (for example class instance methods) with irc.Handler(*events)(handler_function). You probably don't want to use miniirc.Handler for class instance methods, as this will create a handler that gets triggered for every IRC object.

You can also add multiple handlers of the same type easily:

add_handler = irc.Handler('PRIVMSG', colon=False)

This is useful if you want to create a Bot (or Client) class and add class-specific handlers without creating global process-wide handlers or creating a wrapper function for every class instance.

IRCv3 support

IRCv3 tags

If you want your handler to support IRCv3 message tags, you need to add ircv3=True to the Handler or CmdHandler decorator. You will need to add a tags parameter to your function after hostmask. IRCv3 tags are sent to the handlers as dicts, with values of either strings or True.

miniirc will automatically un-escape IRCv3 tag values.

import miniirc
@miniirc.Handler(*events, colon=False, ircv3=True)
def handler(irc, hostmask, tags, args):

IRCv3 capabilities

You can handle IRCv3 capabilities before connecting using a handler. You must use force=True on any irc.quote() called here, as when this is called, miniirc may not yet be fully connected. Do not use the colon argument for Handler when creating these handlers to avoid unexpected side-effects.

import miniirc
@miniirc.Handler('IRCv3 my-cap-name')
def handler(irc, hostmask, args):
    # Process the capability here

    # IRCv3.2 capabilities:
    #   args = ['my-cap-name', 'IRCv3.2-parameters']

    # IRCv3.1 capabilities:
    #   args = ['my-cap-name']

    # Remove the capability from the processing list.
    irc.finish_negotiation(args[0]) # This can also be 'my-cap-name'.

Custom message parsers (not recommended)

If the IRC server you are connecting to supports a non-standard message syntax, you can create custom message parsers. These are called with the raw message (as a str) and can either return None to ignore the message or a 4-tuple (cmd, hostmask, tags, args) that will then be sent on to the handlers. The items in this 4-tuple should be the same type as the items expected by handlers (and cmd should be a string).

Message parser example

This message parser makes the normal parser allow ~ as an IRCv3 tag prefix character.

import miniirc

def my_message_parser(msg):
    if msg.startswith('~'):
        msg = '@' + msg[1:]
    return miniirc.ircv3_message_parser(msg)

Changing message parsers

To change message parsers, you can use irc.change_parser(func=...). If func is not specified, it will default to the built-in parser. You can only change message parsers on-the-fly (for example in an IRCv3 CAP handler). If you need to change message parsers before connecting, you can disable auto_connect and change it then.

irc = miniirc.IRC(..., auto_connect=False)

Handling multiple events

If you want to handle multiple events and/or be able to get the name of the event being triggered, you can use irc.CmdHandler. This will pass an extra command argument to the handler function (between irc and hostmask), containing a string with the command name (such as PRIVMSG).

Catch-all handlers

Please do not use these unless there is no other alternative.

If you want to handle every event, you can use catch-all handlers. To create these, you can call irc.CmdHandler() without any parameters. Note that this handler will be called many times while connecting (and once connected).

You cannot call irc.Handler() without parameters.


import miniirc

# Not required, however this makes sure miniirc isn't outdated.
assert miniirc.ver >= (1,8,2)

@miniirc.Handler('PRIVMSG', 'NOTICE', colon=True)
def handler(irc, hostmask, args):
    print(hostmask[0], 'sent a message to', args[0], 'with content', args[1])
    # nickname sent a message to #channel with content :Hello, world!

@miniirc.CmdHandler('PRIVMSG', 'NOTICE', colon=False)
def cmdhandler(irc, command, hostmask, args):
    print(hostmask[0], 'sent a', command, 'to', args[0], 'with content',
    # nickname sent a PRIVMSG to #channel with content Hello, world!

This will print a line whenever the bot gets a PRIVMSG or NOTICE.

Misc functions

miniirc provides the following helper functions:

Name Description
miniirc.get_ca_certs() Runs certifi.where() if certifi is installed, otherwise returns None.
miniirc.ircv3_message_parser(msg) The default IRCv2/IRCv3 message parser, returns cmd, hostmask, tags, args.
miniirc.ver A tuple containing version information.
miniirc.version The CTCP VERSION reply, can be changed.

The version numbering system should be similar to SemVer, however backwards compatibility is preserved where possible when major releases change.

Python version support

  • Python 3.3 and below are unsupported and do not work with miniirc.
  • Python 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6 are currently supported, but support will likely be dropped in miniirc v2.1.0. Major bugfixes may be backported to v2.0 for a few months after v2.1's release.
  • Python 3.7 and above should work with the latest stable version of miniirc.

If there is a bug/error in Python 3.4 or newer, please open an issue or pull request on GitHub or GitLab.

If you are using Python 3.7 or an older version of Python, I strongly recommend updating. Later versions of Python include features such as f-strings that make software development easier.


If you want more advanced(-ish) features such as user tracking, you can use miniirc_extras (GitHub, GitLab). Note that miniirc_extras is still in beta and there will be breaking API changes in the future.


If miniirc v2.0.0 is ever released, the following breaking changes will (probably) be made:

  • Internal-only attributes irc.handlers, irc.sock, and irc.sendq (please do not use these) will be renamed. Again, please do not use these.
  • irc.nick will always be the nickname used when connecting to IRC rather than the current nickname, use irc.current_nick for the current nickname (since v1.4.3).
  • irc.ns_identity will be stored as a tuple instead of a string, for example ('username', 'password with spaces') instead of 'username password with spaces'. Both formats are currently accepted and will be accepted in the ns_identity keyword argument.
  • No exceptions will be raised in irc.quote/irc.send with force=True when the socket is closed. Instead of relying on these exceptions, use irc.connected which is set to None when completely disconnected.
  • As stated in the Python version support section, Python 3.4 support will be dropped in miniirc v2.1.0, however bugfixes will be backported for a few months.
  • The colon keyword argument to Handler and CmdHandler will default to False instead of True.
  • Unspecified hostmasks will be an empty string instead of the command. Don't rely on this "feature" if possible, simply ignore the hostmask if you do not need it.
  • The extended-join capability will be requested by default, use args[0] instead of args[-1] to get the channel from a JOIN event.
  • The tags keyword argument will be read-only.

Working examples/implementations

Here is a list of some (open-source) bots using miniirc, in alphabetical order:

  • irc-rss-feed-bot - Posts RSS entry titles and shortened URLs to IRC channels. Python 3.8+
  • irc-url-title-bot - Gets webpage titles from URLs posted in IRC channels. Python 3.8+
  • lurklite - A generic configurable IRC bot. GitHub link.
  • stdinbot - A very simple bot that dumps stdin to an IRC channel. GitHub link.

Want to add your own bot/client to this list? Open an issue on GitHub or GitLab.

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