Handling Urgency Hints

Recently I found myself getting tired of Pidgin’s multi-window interface and began searching for alternatives. Because I’m already on IRC all the time anyway, I decided to take a shot at Bitlbee. Bitlbee takes all the useful features of Pidgin and sticks them in a familiar IRC-ish interface. The only annoying part was that the message notification Pidgin gave me was gone – no more color changing tags/taskbar. Enter urgency hints.

I’d played with them before when hacking on dwm. In fact, I added this feature to my dwm because of Pidgin in the first place. My challenge now was to get irssi to pass the hint to gnu-screen, to pass the hint to urxvt over an ssh session, to pass it to my window manager. This was suprisingly easy. Three configs are involved: ~/.irssi/config, ~/.screenrc, and ~/.Xdefaults. Additions are shown below.

file: ~/.irssi/config

settings = {
    "fe-common/core" = {
        beep_msg_level = "NOTICE MSGS HILIGHT";
        bell_beeps = "no";

file: ~/.screenrc

vbell off
bell_msg '^G'

file: ~/.Xdefaults

urxvt*urgentOnBell:    true

With these three settings, I now get a nice notification when receiving a message in Bitlbee or irssi. This has a nice side effect too. Many cli apps can send a bell when they need your attention. Mutt, for instance, can now notify you about new mail.

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