Tuesday, November 5, 2013

IRCCloud gets a major update; closer to exiting beta

IRCCloud Logo
IRCCloud, a web based IRC bouncer & client, has received a major update over the past few days. Although there was a few hiccups in the update process, yesterday all servers were updated with the new software build and an official blog post has been outed by the IRCCloud staff explaining the changes to their system.

IRCv3 (Including SASL)
One of the most notable part of the IRCCloud upgrade was the addition of IRCv3 CAP negotiation  As of this post, IRCCloud only supports version 3.1 of the IRCv3 standards.

While connecting to a network that does have IRCv3 ability, you can see the CAP related information displayed on connect. Here's an example screenshot of what I am describing:

IRCCloud Example CAP screenshot
On this network in particular, you'll notice that they do not support SASL. SASL is another feature that has been added, as it is part of the IRCv3 standards. If you don't know what SASL is, then you can learn more by looking at an article that freenode made.

IRCCloud, for now, will attempt to use your nick and NickServ password to auth via SASL. If it cannot do that, it will fall back and will identify as normal.


Privacy Policy

With this new release of IRCCloud, the team has produced a privacy policy. Before this, there was never a privacy policy and the specifics on privacy were never documented. With this release, it now is and can be found here.

Abuse Policy

One of the biggest hidden problems with IRCCloud was its potential for ban evasion and troll accounts. Users during the beta are able to send out invites to email addresses that they enter via the IRCCloud web interface, and those users can then accept the invite and register an account on IRCCloud. The invite system has been easily abused and in turn methods of combating ban evasion have been created.

However, folks who wish to report IRCCloud users for abuse can visit the abuse policy and also become educated on how to properly ban an IRCCloud user, instead of banning IRCCloud nodes, or the whole system itself from a channel by accident.


Pricing & Billing

The biggest change to the latest release of IRCCloud is the pricing and billing changes. Gone are the old plans that were available during the beta, and in is the newest and only plan for IRCCloud: unlimited.
IRCCloud: Upgrade
IRCCloud upgrade popup. Click to view larger.
Old users of the silver and gold plans are encouraged to migrate to the new subscription model, and those users will receive some kind of perk. James (an IRCCloud staffer) hasn't decided on what kind of perk they will receive, though.

Also changed is the monetary value based on geolocation. If you are located in the United States, your plan is $5 USD. There are also European and British amounts that would equal $5, but I will only mention $5 because it is easier for me to cover. Unlimited accounts can connect to an unlimited amount of networks and don't have any limits that are tied to the free accounts.


As seen in the popup, free/trial accounts can only:

  1. Connect to 2 networks max (outside of IRCCloud's own network)
  2. Can't connect to passworded servers
  3. Have 2 "zombiehours". If disconnected from IRCCloud for 2 hours or more, the connection from IRCCloud to the network is closed. Note: this limit only applies to limited accounts.
In reality, limited and trial accounts are basically the same. The only differences is that during the trial, you aren't affected by the inactivity limit. Trial and limited accounts in very basic and limited, as they are designed for new users to try our IRCCloud, and to also give an incentive to pay for a subscription.

Speaking of subscriptions, you can pay for them using a Credit/Debit card via Stripe. IRCCloud also supports PayPal, if you wish to use that.


UID and SID

A new change to IRCCloud that you might have noticed from users joining/parting the feedback channel is that paid users now have a sid ident. When a user subscribes to IRCCloud, all of their new connections (as well as connections that you reset) will get the sid ident. The actual UID number of that user does not change, and the IPv6 host of that user doesn't change.
Before: uid11863@id-11863.uxbridge.irccloud.com

After: sid11863@id-11863.uxbridge.irccloud.com
 This change makes it easier for channels and networks to ban free IRCCloud users altogether (although I don't personally recommend it), setting a ban on uid*@*.irccloud.com. This would eliminate free users altogether from channels and networks. I also think this change was because of the abuse of IRCCloud.

Teams
IRCCloud: Create a Team
Popup displayed when you click "Teams" at the top right of the IRCCloud web app.
Teams is a new feature on IRCCloud that allows you to register a "team" of users and have the ability to customize their invite for specific settings, such as a certain network, etc. The plan costs $5 per month, per user, so it is costly. Teams was designed for business use. Right now IRCCloud staff are considering whether to offer discounts for teams over 100 users, etc.

Teams itself is a much different part of IRCCloud, so I might make a separate post for this. However, if this doesn't happen, the gist of what exactly a team is is above.

Wrap Up
TL;DR: IRCCloud got a few significant updates that are worth looking into. IRCCloud has started enforcing limits, so if you really want unlimited networks (or basically unlimited anything during the unenforced beta period), you will have to shell out $5 a month via Stripe (Credit/Debit Card) or PayPal. There is also a new trial period feature that was released.