ics.el is a mode for (X)Emacs that is designed to handle the text portion of an ICS session.

  • Version: Development version
  • License: GNU General Public License
  • Author(s): Mark Oakden
  • Formats: As Plaintext, compressed and gzipped
  • Size: 50k (Plaintext), 23k (compressed), 16k (gzipped)
  • Homepage: ics.el website
  • ics.el is as the name would suggest a Lisp program, to be used with either Emacs or Xemacs.

More precisely it is a major mode which allows you to communicate with Internet Chess Servers. It does not provide a graphical user interface itself as it only handles the text portion of an ICS session. Like the other programs reviewed it is released under the GNU General Public License.

To set up the program you first need to configure your .emacs file so that it is loads in the ics.el code. If you are used to editing configuration files this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The author has supplied a HOWTO document which explains how to configure your .emacs file but I found it easier to change the actual ics.el file itself rather than making my .emacs file even larger. Fortunately the ics.el file is well documentated.

To make full use of this program you need to be running Xemacs, rather than emacs. Xemacs is a version of emacs that contains numerous improvements such as extensive graphical support and improved support for multiple fonts and colors.

Once you have configured .emacs and ics.el the program is invoked by typing Esc-x ics. A introduction page appears in xemacs where you choose which server you wish to log into. An Xboard appears and you are prompted to confirm your username and enter your password.

If you liked the hundreds of different options available with Xboard, you may love the configuration possibilities with ics.el. As ics.el uses Xboard to handle the chess based part, we will examine ics.el’s text handling features.

The two main benefits that ics.el gives are improved font support with color customization and ‘buttons’.

These are not typical graphical buttons but Lisp buttons. Basically this button feature lets you perform certain actions by clicking on specific text. For example to accept a request for a game you move your mouse over the word play.

The color changes and by clicking on the ‘button’ you accept the seek and the game begins. It works the same way if you wish to see a player’s notes or launching a URL.

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