Getting help with Blender is often arduous task. Between books you can't afford, forum posts that go ignored, and online tutorials that were written on autopilot, where's a beginner to go for quick answers? This may not be news to many, but there is a collection of public Blender chatroooms where Blender users can get help and friends can meet. Before I continue, props go out to Florian Mayer (who went by â€œnameâ€ in chat) for giving me the idea behind this article.
The first step to getting involved in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is finding the right program for you. To keep it simple, for today, the right program for you is X-Chat. If you're using Windows, go here and download the latest installer:
If you're on Linux, you probably have X-Chat already on your system, or available in your package repositories. If not, try to find an installer on this page:
That page also lists OSX installers that I have not tested, but likely work.
Download and install the appropriate version of X-Chat for your computer.
Armed with your X-Chat installation, you're probably eager to get connected, right? First, you need to choose your online identity (or nickname) and select which server you want to connect to.
1) Open X-Chat, if you haven't already.
2) Under â€œNick name,â€ enter the name that you would like everyone to see. Pick something quickly for now, you can easily change it later. Put something under â€œSecond choiceâ€ and â€œThird choiceâ€ as well.
3) Under â€œNetworksâ€, scroll down and choose â€œFreeNode.â€
4) Press the â€œConnectâ€ button.
You should now be connected to the FreeNode servers; however, you are not yet actually in any chatrooms. You need to join a chatroom, called a â€œchannel.â€ In the area towards the bottom of X-Chat where you can type, enter the following:
You should now be smack-dab in the middle of wonderful Blender chat heaven. However, being in #blender isn't enough. Many chatters are sitting in six to seven Blender-related channels at any given time. Join a couple more channels to see what I'm talking about:
There are many other Blender-related channels. Here's a list of some of the ones I know about:
#blender â€“ Blender-related chat in English
#blenderchat â€“ also Blender-related chat in English
#blenderwiki â€“ wiki support and discussion
#blenderqa - Blender question and answer chatroom
#blenderadictos3d â€“ Blender chat in Spanish
#blender-fr â€“ Blender chat in French
#blender.de â€“ Blender chat in German
#blenderpraat - Blender chat in Dutch
#sweblendÂ - Blender chat in Swedish
#blenderchar â€“ Blender character animation discussion
#gameblender â€“ Blender game engine discussion
#blendercoders â€“ place to go if you want to help develop Blender
#blendercompilers â€“ for the brave souls that need help compiling Blender
#blenderpython - Python specific Blender chat
#smc - Blender speed modeling challenge
There are many hints and tips I would like to share about using IRC, but I need to be brief. I am copying these directions to the wiki, where I hope they will be improved upon and expanded over time:
On a related note, I'd like to throw my vote in for a new window type in Blender: the IRC window! Imagine having a simple chat client embedded right into Blender that easily connects a user to the most popular Blender chatrooms. With Verse and distributed rendering tools that are coming out, Blender is becoming a better tool for collaborative projects. Having a chat client embedded right into Blender is another step in the right direction, and could be used in conjunction with Verse services in interesting ways. It may not even be that much work: there's already several simple open source terminal IRC clients that could be hooked right into a Blender window. If anyone is interested in hearing more about my vision on this, just look for me (spiderworm) in IRC.
Thanks for reading! I hope to see you in IRC soon!