In your time working with Selenium you've likely run into some stumbling block or issue that's left you Googling for a solution.
Sometimes you find what you need in a forum or blog post somewhere. But there are times you're not so fortunate and you want to find an answer quickly but you're not sure where to turn. Or maybe you've had people tell you to "hop on IRC" but aren't sure what that means or how to do it.
You can visit the heart of the Selenium Community and talk directly with the core developers of the Selenium project and other automation practitioners without ever leaving your house. You can do this by hopping on to the Selenium IRC Chat Channel.
It is a great place to ask questions, find answers, and get pointed in the right direction when you're stuck.
An IRC Primer
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a protocol that freely enables live chatting both in groups and person-to-person. It's been around for a while (circa 1988) and is the preferred method of communication among certain tech circles.
Within the realm of IRC there are numerous networks you can connect to. Each one contains people and bots logged in and joined to one or more chat rooms talking, sharing files, etc.
One of the beautiful things about IRC is that there is no sign-up required to join the party. You just need to download a client that handles the IRC protocol (there's at least one available for every operating system), point it at a network, and specify a nickname for yourself.
Once you're connected you can join a chat room and start jib-jabbing.
How To Get Connected
Step 1: Get an IRC Chat Client
First thing's first, get a chat client that supports IRC.
You may already have one and not even know. For example, Adium (for OSX) supports a staggering number of chat protocols. If you already have it (or something like it) then use that to connect. If you don't, then you'll need to grab one.
Here are some worthwhile IRC chat clients (broken out by operating system). They are free unless otherwise noted.
- mIRC (free, but asks for donations)
Step 2: Connect to the proper server
The Selenium chat channel lives on the freenode server. To connect to it use
Before connecting you should be able to set a nickname and perhaps even specify which channel you would like to join after connecting (e.g.
#selenium). If you don't see these bits, don't sweat it. Connect and proceed to the next step.
NOTE: If you're using Webchat, it will automatically connect you to freenode.
Step 3: Join the chat channel
Chat channels in IRC start with a
# and are all lower-case. So the Selenium channel is
If you were able to configure your chat client to join the channel for you, then proceed to the next step. Otherwise, you'll need to issue a command in the status window after connecting to freenode.
There are a series of commands you can issue in IRC. They all start with a
/. To join a chat channel type
/join #selenium and press
Enter. This will open a new window within the chat application. In it will be the Selenium chat channel. Woohoo!
Step 4: Talk & Hangout
Feel free to say hello and introduce yourself. But more importantly, ask your question. And if it looks like no one is chatting, ask it anyway. Someone will see it and eventually respond. They always do.
In order to get your answer, you'll probably want to hang around for a bit. But the benefit of being a fly on the wall in this chat channel is that you quickly gain insight into other Selenium problems people have, possible solutions to them, and the current status of the Selenium project in real time.
Hopefully this tip will help you get more connected with the Selenium Community and find answers to challenges you're facing.