A simple, modular, BSD-socket-based C++ chat server and client. Intended as a foundation for embedding in other apps and building actual chat systems on top of, or network communication for other client/server systems.
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A small, modular, C++, BSD-socket-based chat client and server, intended for use in projects that want to embed chat or chat-like functionality.


If you want to use this in production, you must obtain your own certificates (e.g. by buying them from your web hoster). The included certificates are up for everyone on Github and can therefore be used by anyone to spoof messages. They are merely included as a convenience for those trying out the code.

For deployment, you should set up a settings folder containing your certificates and accounts and pass its path as the first parameter to the server/client.


The app includes a simple test "client" that you can modify to try things out. By default it will simply perform a few commands and display the replies returned by those.

The example server is reasonably full-featured and implements a protocol vaguely reminiscent of IRC. There is a "/login admin eleven" command to log you in (the example is the default user name and password in a fresh build). A "/bye" command to end your session. A "/join myChannel" command for creating and listening to a channel. A "/leave myChannel" command to stop listening to a channel, commands to create new users, ban users from a channel or even from just logging in, etc.

See the comments on each line that registers a handler in the example server's main.cpp file for all commands currently supported.


For TLS support (i.e. so user passwords don't cross the line in plain text), you need to build LibreSSL's libtls. The project has a "libressl" target that does that for you, but you may need to install automake, autoconf and libtool, e.g. using Homebrew

brew install autoconf automake libtool

as that is what the libTLS build scripts use.

Command handlers

The chat server class is stupid by default and does nothing. To make it do something, you give it C++ lambdas (aka "blocks" or "handlers"). Each line received has its first word extracted (everything up to the first space, tab or line break), and matched against the strings for which handlers have been registered. If none of these matches, it looks for a handler registered for "*" and calls that.

These handlers get handed a session object with which they can send a reply, and the entire line (including the first word) that the client sent. They can now decide how to react.

The same principle applies to the client.

Types of users

There are three kinds of users. "Normal" users can simply join/create channels and chat. "Moderator" users can kick users from channels, block and retire users from logging in, or delete a user, as long as the other user is a "Normal" user. "Owner" users can create new accounts on the server, and designate other accounts as moderators or owners. Owners can also do all the things moderators can.

When you build the example server, the Xcode project will copy a default accounts.txt file next to the application that defines one user named "admin" with password "eleven". This user is an "Owner" and can be used to create other users etc.

Format of messages

While messages sent from server to client can really have any format you wish (they can even consist of binary data), the defaults have a strict format that will make it easier to parse for clients and display them in a graphical fashion or localize them. All replies from the server start with a reply code prefixed with a slash, which is the first word of the first line. If this code starts with an exclamation mark right after the slash, it indicates an error occurred (e.g. a message may start with "/!not_logged_in" for "you are not logged in").

Then, messages usually contain one or more words (separated by spaces) indicating additional metadata like the channel on which a message was sent, or the user name of the user that originally sent the message. The rest of the line is usually the actual message sent, if any.

So if you were using Eleven to implement, say, the communications mechanism in an MMORPG, the game the user downloads would be a client, and could choose to display all messages that start with "/!" in modal error alert panel. It could display messages that start with "/note" as text subtitles at the top of the game screen, and messages that start with "/joined_channel" could be meant to be the area in which the user is now playing. Messages that start with "/message" (Actual text a user types) can even be shown as speech balloons over the corresponding character's head, as they include channel and user name.

The server can even ask on behalf of the player to have the player join or leave a chatroom, e.g. when the player moves from one map to the next, so that chat will show up in the current room for all other players who are there with her.


Copyright 2014 by Uli Kusterer.

This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied
warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages
arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose,
including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it
freely, subject to the following restrictions:

1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not
claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software
in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
appreciated but is not required.

2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
misrepresented as being the original software.

3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source