Setting up Hipchat with BitlBee

Hipchat is a chat service by Atlassian that provides an XMPP server. It's the choice of many businesses, as it supports mission critical features like pasting images and having them show up inline in the chat, and silly meme-like things that happen if you type things like "(awwyeah)".

As such, it's only used by people who have no other choice. If you can decide what chat service to use, please get a real XMPP server with real XMPP clients instead.

Official information on their XMPP, including technical details, is available here

Since BitlBee 3.4.1

BitlBee 3.4.1 merges most of the "hip-cat" branch which some people have been using for a while. It left out the unstable parts, which might be included in a later release. If you needed those, read the section below.

Initial setup

The 'hipchat' account type does not work with the libpurple backend. If you are using it, you'll have to either switch to a version without libpurple or configure it the old way.

If you had a "jabber" account with hipchat, delete it with account jabber del (ensure it's the correct one before doing that)

Use the same account username you'd use in the official client, and protocol "hipchat" instead of "jabber":

account add hipchat <password>
account hipchat on

Groupchats in 3.4.2

Since 3.4.2 you can add channels by their name:

chat add hipchat "Chat Name" #channel_name
/join #channel_name

Behind the scenes, what this does is:

  1. Lowercase Chat Name to chat name

  2. Replace all spaces and special characters with underscores: chat_name

  3. Add the 123456_ and from above

And it works quite well, even with edge cases! If it doesn't, feel free to complain.

Groupchats in 3.4.1

You can also find the JID from the the XMPP/Jabber info section of your account settings, and create a channel for it like this:

chat add hipchat #channel_name
/join #channel_name

That's all.

hip-cat branch

The hip-cat branch is where all of this started. Right now, the only difference is that it fetches the channel list from the server and lets you "/join" them directly. This feature has a few bugs, so it was excluded from the merge. If you feel like trying it out, read on.

For debian/ubuntu, builds should be available in the APT repo at (just pick hip-cat branch instead of master)

To get build it manually:

git clone
cd bitlbee
git checkout feat/hip-cat

Then do the rest of the build as usual (assuming you have the build dependencies installed)

make install

Or for debian/ubuntu: dpkg-buildpackage

Known issues

If you have any problems with this branch, please join #bitlbee ( and ping me (dx)!

Workarounds for bitlbee 3.4 and older

If you can't use the newer releases for any reason, here's the list of workarounds you need to apply.

Again, ignore all this if you use 3.4.1 or the hip-cat branch.

Initial setup

Get your account details from this page, and use your jabber ID here:

account add jabber
account jabber set tag hipchat

The jabber IDs of hipchat accounts are in the format where 123456 is the company-wide account ID and 789012 is your user account ID.

Fix nick display by setting nick_source:

account hipchat set nick_source full_name


Groupchats require you to have a "nick" set to your real name (Givenname Surname), otherwise you'll get an error on /join ("not-acceptable: Please use the nickname...")

Additionally, the channel names are in the format #123456_chat_name where 123456 is the company-wide account ID.

The best way to get this working is to avoid using the usual "invite" method of joining channels and add the channels manually before you join them.

chat add hipchat #channel_name
channel #channel_name set nick 'Givenname Surname'

Note that you can't rename channels - you have to remove and re-add them.


Do @mention_name instead of username:. Otherwise people won't notice your messages are addressed to them. A great feature.

This mention_name comes from <item mention_name="..."> in the roster. This value isn't parsed by bitlbee, so the only way to get it is enabling xmlconsole or using one of the official clients.

"Message from unknown participant" when joining channel

Since the server sends wrong JIDs for the "from" field ( name here), all you can do is using client scripts to fix this up. If you write something to do this, add it here.

Using the script from Wouter Coekaerts (download here), you can add the following trigger to replace "Message from unknown participant " with a blank string to hide it:

/TRIGGER ADD -all -nocase -regexp '^Message from unknown participant ' -replace ''

For weechat:

/filter add hipchat_unknown_participant * nick_root ^Message from unknown participant  

For emacs erc:

(defun my-reformat-jabber-backlog ()
    (goto-char (point-min))
    (if (looking-at
         "^<root> Message from unknown participant Your Name:")
        (replace-match "<yournick>"))))
(add-hook 'erc-insert-modify-hook 'my-reformat-jabber-backlog)


If you want to figure out something, you can try enabling the XMPP xmlconsole to your contacts. Good luck with that.

BitlBee Wiki: HowtoHipchat (last edited 2016-04-28 17:37:11 by 218-138-136-186)