The other week, I switched from irssi to weechat for my console IRC client of choice. The box these run on is a FreeBSD 6.2 system, so getting everything working like I wanted with weechat was a bit of a chore.
weechat comes with a couple improvements over vanilla irssi. First, the nicklist "plugin" from irssi is included by default. I thought this was a cool feature the few times that I've seen it used on people's clients, but didn't really realize how much it helps until I started using weechat. I don't think I've done a /names in a week.
Secondly, color support is vastly improved. /set reveals a whole slew of color and styling options, without having to muck around with a separate style config and the correct magic incantations of /save, /load, and /savestyle.
Finally, weechat has a much richer filtering interface. The IRC smart filter automatically collapses people who flap into a single set of join/part messages. It also keeps the text that it actually received, so unlike irssi, you can get the data back after filtering it out.
Now, onto compiling...
I would much rather have used the port of weechat than compile my own version, but that's only 0.2.6 (current is 0.3.0), and running old versions is somewhat suboptimal.
One of the main issues was that weechat has multiple front-ends and the configure script failed to find any of them (the box is headless, so no surprises about missing gtk+/qt libs). I'm only interested in the ncurses front-end, but the default ncurses library on the system doesn't work with wide-characters. Linux-compatibility ncurses does, but only has the lib and not the headers. For most users, this probably isn't a problem, but since I use IRC in languages other than English (specifically, Japanese without wide-characters is painful), it's a must. I actually had my irssi session around still just for this.
So, I had to compile my own ncurses library (--with-widec --with-ext-colors). Unfortunately, weechat only picks up on the wide characters and doesn't have 256-color support. Not really a big deal, but I like my shinies when I can get them. Ncurses 5.7 compiled like a charm the first time, and getting weechat to recognize the new lib is just a matter of correcting CFLAGS.
Now I'm off and running full time with weechat. I guess if irssi is the client of the future, the present isn't doing too shabby, either.