Seems there are different opinions on this application and I think I can understand each of it.
Concerning the IRC bridge: it looks quite promising and makes things alot easier. Hower the biggest problem of the lobby is still present for me: Users connect to the lobby just to see nobody online in the players list, so they directly disconnect again... getting irc messages from the "off" looks more or less like a bug for me. A "normal" user might not understand why some people are writing in the chat but are not listed as users. Further how could you write to someone if you do not know (s)he is online on irc, as (s)he is not listed in the users list of the lobby? The other way round, players are not listed in the user list in irc, so once the lobby is filled with some players you can easily loose the overview of who is online at the moment.
For that very reason the current irc implementation makes it even more confusing to me and makes me wonder why we support two chats. To be honest - I think it would be much more logical to make the "lobby chat" the official chat. Of course IRC is very common and reliable + we can use the free services of Freenode and it wouldn't die out anyways. However after all - in the long term all roads end up in the lobby chat before finally starting the game. So why shouldn't we just use the lobby chat as main chat communication channel? After the qt implementation I am pretty sure it wouldn't be hard to write a java app we could add to our website.
Luckily it is not up to me to decide this and the "extra maintenance" argument SirVer named for the qt app is even more true for this general idea and will most likely block the implementation of it. Further of course I am biased - however I just wanted to show my personal opinion on this topic.
Finally after writing the qt app and using it for some times I found out, that I really prefer using the Widelands lobby chat for waiting for games to start up or to help players having questions in the lobby. And theoretically with TinoMs irc bridge active now, there isn't even the need to connect to irc now if I want to discuss game stuff :).
Still SirVers point with extra maintenance work is 100% true and I do not want to put the extra burden of maintaining this chat application to the Widelands Development Team. However I like to use the application myself and of course to use it as test bench for the widelands internet protocol. And as I like to share the code and the application with everyone interested, I removed the branch from lp:widelands and opend up lp:qt-widelands-lobby-chat . So if you want to blame anyone for this application and it's functionality or disfunctionality in future - blame me ;).