The first time you start Snak the setup assistant will run. This is where you can choose the nickname you prefer on IRC, and optionally specify a favorite server. After that is completed, the program itself will start.
When the program is not registered, the first window that comes up serves to remind you that Snak is distributed as shareware. That means you are free to use the program during the 30 days trial period for no charge. However, if you decide to keep using it you will have to pay for it. After the trial period the program is limited to 15 minutes of use.
This window also contains helpful tips on how to use the program. A different one is displayed each time the program runs.
Once you close the shareware reminder window you will be able to join channels by selecting them in the profile list. The profile list contains the profiles for all the networks that are defined and all the channels Snak knows about. It is also used to list active DCC transfers, and you can initiate DCC by selecting the DCC item at the top. The buttons will then change to the DCC functionality.
The state of the profile is indicated by the icon next to the name. The icon will change as the connection is opened or closed. The icons next to the channels indicate whether you are a member of the channel or not.To join a channel, select it in the list and press the Join button. If there is no selection, the Join button will bring up a dialog where you can enter the channel to join. For this Quickstart, select the #macintosh and #beginner channels on Undernet.
When you press Join Snak will attempt to connect to the IRC server and join the channels. To do so it uses the information in a connection profile. A profile contains the chosen servers, the nickname to use when connecting and any optional actions to take when the connection is successfully opened.
Snak comes with several predefined profiles that can be inspected or edited from the profile list (Cmd-K). This list also shows the connection status so you can see when you are online.
When Snak connects to the IRC server it will open channel panels for the selected channels, and optionally a server message panel where you can see the progress of the connection. You can only send and receive messages when the connection is fully open. The connection is fully open when its icon in the profile list looks like this:
The main window
If the IRC server accepted the connection, and let you join the channels, the channel panels starts filling up with information. In this picture you are a member of the macintosh and Beginner channels. Macintosh is the active channel and there are 695 unread messages in the Beginner channel.
Congratulations : You are now successfully using IRC and can chat with people from around the world :-)
Because Snak can be configured in many different ways your windows may look different from this. In the picture above you see the user list to the right of the main text area, and the input field below. Under the user list you see the command buttons with a divider bar. The divider bar can be dragged up or down to resize the area for the command buttons. The command buttons can be deleted or edited in the Customize... item under the Scripts menu. The command buttons are enabled when there is a selection in the user list.
The picture also show Snak using stacked panels for the multiple channels, server messages and lists that inhabit the same window. Above the text area you see six buttons; three list panels (Contacts, Actions and Profiles), one server message panel for Undernet and two channel panels "#macintosh" and "#Beginner". To switch to the server message panel click the button with the profile name, and click a channel button to go back to one of the channels.
When text comes into an inactive channel, a badge is added to the channel button with a number that tells the number of unread messages. In the above picture a highlight Action is set to respond to a message containing your nickname (mynick, in this case) so the message is colored orange, and the channel tab is filled out to indicate where the highlight happened. That way you can easily see if something interesting happens in a channel.
If you hover the mouse over the button for a few seconds, a help tag will come up and you can see the last unread message in the associated channel without having to switch to it.
If you prefer to have everything in a separate window you can drag the panels out of the shared window by clicking and dragging in the gripper area in the left side of the topic bar. The gripper area is the dots to the left of the "Welcome to #macintosh" topic.
The next picture is an example of a window that is not shared. You can turn off the shared window mode in the window panel in the preferences. That will make new panels get a window of their own, but you can still manually collect multiple panels in a window.
The picture also show how you can have the user list showing or not. Cmd-U toggles the user list on and off. The input field has been moved into a separate floating window instead of inside the main window.
Some networks allow very long nicknames, but by default Snak will truncate the nicks to fit the nick column width. If you want to see the full nick go to the Appearance preference panel, and turn off the divider line, or simply drag the divider until the nick column is wide enough to display the nicks.
Instead of having a user list in each window, you can move the user list out into its own separate window so that there is only one shared list. It will then show the contents of the active channel. This is controlled from the Window preference panel. Likewise, the input field can also be placed in its own floating window instead of being integrated in each window.
The advantage of having an integrated input field is that the problem of misdirected messages is much reduced. If you have a floating input window you need to make sure that you have selected the right channel before you press Enter to send the message. If the input field is integrated then it belongs to a particular window and there is less doubt where the message is going.
One useful technique is to assign each channel its own Appearance theme and background color. The input field follows the channel background color so it is obvious what channel it is talking to.
There are two different shared views: the stacked version as shown above, and the tiled view as shown here. The tiled version displays all the panels at the same time, but each get less space. This setting is also controlled from the Windows preference panel.
The tiles can be resized by dragging the topic bars, and they can be collapsed like the list panels and the server message panel.
You should now be able to start chatting and meeting people online. Snak has many useful and helpful features so I'd recommend that you continue reading the rest of the manual. Enjoy yourself on IRC and thanks for using Snak.