Tag Archives: interface

Fix your UI in advance!

Patch 3.0.2 is close on the horizon – if it’s not here within the next couple of weeks I’ll be surprised – and your UI is going to break. That’s right, all those lovely addons you use are going to stop working!

…well, most of them will.

And the big addon sites are always hammered on Patch Day; UI-Breaking Patch Day will just be that much worse. You can forget playing with your preferred UI if you haven’t done something about it in advance.

So! Download and patch the PTR client, transfer your most important characters over, and set to work rebuilding your UI now. Sites like WoW Interface make note of addons that are WotLK compatible – which means they should also be Patch 3.0 compatible.

You’ve got two ways of doing it:

  1. Copy your WTF folder and the contents of your Interface/Addons folder to the equivalent places in the PTR client folder, and try to fix it a bit at a time, replacing addons as you establish that they’re broken.
  2. Start with a blank canvas, no settings files, and download brand-new copies of appropriate addons from your download site of choice. Build the UI from scratch.

The second option is the method I’m going to choose myself, and I’d recommend it in general, just to make certain there are no legacy files persisting to cause incompatibilities and grief down the track. (The exception is ItemRack; I have a lot of different sets with only a few differences between them, and I really don’t want to have to make all those gearing decisions again.)

Step 1: Think!

When you do it, first identify what kind of addons you’ll want.

  • a unit-frame mod?
  • an action bar mod?
  • a raid-frame mod?
  • a threat meter?
  • a DPS/performance meter?
  • a gear set changer?
  • a map mod?
  • a boss mod?

Those are the common mods most people are likely to want; have a think about other key features of your UI – whether stylistic (like a reskin, font replacer or viewframe mod) or functional (like a DoT timer, a chat manager or a combat text mod) – and whether they’re absolutely essential or whether you can afford to install them later.

Step 2: Research and Download!

Once you’ve made those decisions, you’ll be better-equipped to navigate the “WotLK Mods!” sections of your favourite addon sites to try and find mods that will do what you want. Don’t be surprised if your favourite mods haven’t been updated for WotLK yet – many mods get abandoned around expansion time, and others are slow to be updated. You might have to get creative when looking for addons that will do what you want – remember that many addon names aren’t very informative, so check out anything unless you’re sure you don’t want it.

Step 3: Profit!

And then, once Patch 3.0 goes live, rename your WoW Addons and WTF directories and copy the equivalent folders over from the PTR client – everything should work fine, and you’ll have a minimum of downtime. (Just don’t delete your old addons and wtf folders until you’re sure everything’s working perfectly, just in case.)

Happy interface-overhauling!

A Raiding Paladin UI

I’ve been meaning to make one of these posts for ages, so here goes:

A Guide To My UI

First up, here’s a shot of my UI, full-size, for comparison’s sake. Note that I’ve resized it down to 1200×750, so you can actually see it onscreen; I play at 1920×1200.

Now, let’s take a look at it piece-by-piece:

Sailan's UI

1. FuBar and a whole swag of FuBar plugins. This provides me with configuration menus for a lot of my other addons, and informational displays on all kinds of things (reputation progress, bag space, who I’m set to assist, and lots more). Similar to TitanBar, but much less memory-intensive.

2. BunchOfBars, my raid frames. Excellent for healers, this mod is compatible with the LibHealComm-3.0 library (which means, in practice, that you can see incoming heals being cast by other healers if they’re using BunchOfBars, Grid, VisualHeal or similar mods).

3. PallyPower, a blessings manager for Paladins that allows you to set Greater Blessings by class and single Blessings by individual, and then recast your set blessings repeatedly with just a few mouse clicks. Even better, the config allows you to set blessings for other pallies in the raid too, making sure that every blessing is covered and no-one’s doubling up. Almost essential for pallies.

4. ag_UnitFrames, also known as AGUF, which I use for my party frames…

5. …and AGUF again for my unit frames. Here you can see that on the left of my action bars, I have my own unit frame; above it is my focus frame, and above that is the target of my focus unit. On the right of the action bars is my target’s unit frame, above that is my target’s target, and above that is the target’s target’s target. (Confusing, yes? In practice: if I have the MT targeted, he’ll be my target, the boss will show above him as the MT’s target, and then the MT will show at the top as the boss target. If that top bar changes to another player, it means the MT has lost agro and someone else needs some healing – usually urgently. ;-)

6. Informational bars. The top two are PallyTimerFu, below them are main tank and tank target displays, courtesy of oRa.

7. Action bars! Trinity Bars 2.0. Others swear by Bongos or Bartender, but I love Trinity, despite the fact that it’s not an Ace mod. What I love about it more than other action bar mods: you can set each bar’s number of buttons individually, which means I can have a five-button bar here and a ten-button bar there with no problems. It also has some neat other features, as you’ll see:

7A: These are my “use in combat” consumables: health and mana pots (and various specialty variants), healthstones and charged crystal foci, bandages.

7B: My main spell bars. The square buttons at the top are activatable effects (mostly trinkets, with a macro and a cooldown spell for good measure). The round buttons below them are spell buttons. Yes, pallies have a lot of spells – and that doesn’t even include those spells that are bound to keypresses only, with no position on the actionbars. (Again, something handled by Trinity.) The class bar of auras is positioned vertically down the left side.

7C: My “tank emergency” bar. This bar is set, via Trinity, so that all spells on it are automatically cast on my focus, regardless of who I have targeted. I’ll usually set focus on someone likely to need emergency heals – usually the tank, sometimes someone else with a critical role. The bar has my “holy shit” heal macro, cleanse, Blessing of Protection and Lay On Hands, which means if I see the essential person is in trouble I can get a one-click heal onto them without having to acquire them as a target first. On Australian latency, that can be a wipe-saver.

7D: Miscellaneous crap. Mount macro, hearthstone, tradeskills, food/drink/elixirs, that kind of stuff.

8. ElkBuffBars for buffs and debuffs. Buffs go to the left of the minimap, debuffs and weapon buffs go to the right (although I don’t have any in this screenshot).

9. The minimap, as repositioned and squarified by SimpleMiniMap.

10. Chat windows, managed by Prat. As a guild leader, raid healing lead and master looter, I use a lot of chat – as you can imagine. I manage this by splitting different channels into different windows. The left-most window is for guildchat, officer chat, and custom channels (healer channel, tank channel, some server-wide custom channels, etc). The middle window is for raidchat, party chat and battleground chat. The right-most window is for general chat, trade chat and whispers – ie, it’s the one I can usually safely ignore unless I hear the ‘whisper’ alert sound.

Others: You can also see a Recount window open to ‘healing done’ on the right hand side of my UI. Normally I don’t have Recount open, but this screenshot was taken during a PuG raid and I was curious to see how I rated compared with the other healers. (Top on healing, top on overheals – such is the price of Aussie latency! ;-)) I also use a number of other addons that aren’t really visible on my screen, but I still wouldn’t want to play without them. These include:

  • ItemRack inventory manager (not an Ace mod). Others swear by Closet Gnome or Outfitter, but I still prefer ItemRack.
  • BigWigs raid boss warnings, and its 5-man cousin LittleWigs.
  • ACP Addon Control Panel, for activating and deactivating addons without having to log out.
  • ClearFont2 font changer.
  • SunnViewport, for the black section underlying my chat windows.
  • AtlasLoot loot reference mod.
  • Cartographer: the best map addon ever.
  • Quartz casting bar.
  • BankItems and Possessions inventory managers, great for those of us who are packrats. BankItems is better for browsing what you have on a character, Possessions is better for searching by text string when you know you have something, you just don’t remember where you put it (or which alt you mailed it to).
  • Parrot: scrolling combat text of awesomeness.
  • TradeSkill Info: a handy browser of tradeskill recipes, filterable by name, profession, what your characters know, etc. Very useful for looking up crafting mats.
  • TankPoints helps you assess tanking gear by giving each item a points value based on how much effective health it grants. Invaluable for tanks and occasional tanks.

There are others I use, but those are the awesomest – the ones I wouldn’t want to do without.

Fake That Focus

If you’re like me, you use the Focus target part of Blizzard’s interface a lot – you make a relevant player or mob your focus, display the focus frame on screen, and it allows easy retargeting (and watching for buffs, debuffs, CC breaking and so on). And, of course, you can use the [target=focus] option in macros to apply something to your focus without having to change targets, and some actionbar mods (eg Trinity Bars) even allow you to set an entire action bar of spells to apply to your focus. (Which makes one-click shielding, healing or CCing very easy, without having to retarget anything at all.)

However, I’ve often wished for two focus frames on screen, when I need to keep an eye on two heal targets at once, or a mob and a friendly, or whatever.

Presto! With a combination of macros, you can fake up a similar effect.

Firstly, I use F1 to F5 as the default – targeting myself and my party members. I’ve set F6 to target my focus.

So, time for a new macro:

/target playername

(eg mine currently says “/target Everlight”, as Everlight was one of the two people I needed to throw healing at in the last boss fight I did)

Then either put that on an action bar and give it a hotkey, or use a mod that allows you to assign keybindings directly to macros (such as Trinity Bars, or SpellBinder). I gave it F7, to work nicely with F6 for the focus.

Unit Frames

I haven’t found a solution that allows you to put a new frame for a specific player or mob on your screen. If anyone finds one, let me know.

In the meantime, I’m just using the Blizzard Raid UI for this (crazy, I know) – I pull the frame for the specific target onto my playfield, and position it next to my existing focus frame.

Spell Targeting

Obviously, you can’t use a bar mod that points your spells at your focus target for this, and you can’t use [target=focus] in your macros – because this person isn’t your focus. However, you can use [target=playername] in a few key macros if you know you’re going to need to cast a spell on this person quickly without retargeting them first. “/cast [target=tankname] Lay On Hands”, perhaps, or “/cast [target=mobname] Polymorph” if you’re handling sheeping.

Edit, with thanks to Button of Button Mashing: in 2.3, Blizzard added a ‘targetexact’ macro option, which is case specific and handles targets with spaces in their name. So if you wanted to target, say, Shade of Aran using a macro like this, you could use either [target=shade] (but that would also risk targeting someone in your raid called ‘Shadeface’, for instance) or [targetexact=Shade of Aran]. In other words, targetexact is a good option when you have multiple mobs or people around with similar names.

The Upshot

As you can tell, it’s all a bit of a kludge – the Blizzard UI isn’t intended to let you have more than one focus target, so you have to mimic the elegant functionality of focus behaviour with a few specific macros. However, I’m still finding that it’s more helpful than not using it at all. It doesn’t work well on the fly, but if you know what you’re facing ahead of time, it can make a big difference.

If anyone comes up with any extensions of the concept, or better ways of executing it, I’m all ears!

Best. Change. Ever.

So, here’s something awesome that I’ve been hoping for in WoW.

A quest link in trade channel

That is, indeed, a chat channel link to a quest. Just shift-click a quest in your log and it’ll link it into any channel where you can share an item link – so, trade, whisper, /say, and probably guild/party/raidchat too (though I haven’t tried linking them there yet).

This inspired me to check:

A spell link in whisper

You can also shift-click a spell or ability in your spellbook to link it into the same channels.

I really hope this makes it into Live and it’s not just a weird PTR bug. Everquest 2 allowed this from launch – back in late 2004 – and I’ve missed it on WoW on a regular basis ever since then.

I’m sure you can all see how useful it’d be…

Interface improvements in 2.3

Patch 2.3 is bringing with it a few other neat little tweaks to the user interface. Here are a couple of note:

First up, there’s a feature that I couldn’t successfully screencap, thanks to WoW’s refusal to screencap the cursor. When you mouse over an NPC, if the NPC has a menu option, the cursor reflects this. We’ve already seen this in-game with bankers and vendors (the moneybag cursor) and the mailbox (the envelope cursor). 2.3 expands this to include questgivers (a ! cursor), guards with the ability to give you directions (a kind of parchmenty scrolly thing cursor… I think that’s what it’s meant to be), and repairers (an anvil cursor). Like the existing contextual cursors, the new cursors grey out if you’re too far away from the NPC to interact with it, and turn gold once you’re in range.

Next up, here’s a view of the new minimap feature: marks for questgivers and the like. Regular quest givers show up with a gold !, daily quest givers show up with a blue ! (as shown here), and flight masters with a flight path you haven’t learned show up with a green !. Quest givers who have a completed quest for you to hand in show up with a gold ?; I’m not sure if the equivalent daily quest givers show up with a blue equivalent or not.

The tracking button is a new feature on the minimap; you click it and it pops down a selectable tracking menu with everything you can track. This includes old favourites (profession- and class-based tracking), as well as the new ability to keep track of a particular type of NPC. On the hunt for a repairer, or reagent vendor? Worry no more!

(Which makes you wonder how long a list you can get. By my reckoning, a miner/herbalist hunter with the new fish school tracking ability would have a 22-line menu…)

The new “send mail” window. You can now send multiple items in an automated fashion (ie you only have to address a mail once for every seven items you want to send, instead of mailing all seven separately), somewhat replacing the need for addons like CT_Mailmod, Postal or Bulkmail2. However, it’s far from a full-featured implementation:

  • Unlike most similar third-party addons, you can’t alt-click an item in your bags to automatically add it to the sending slot(s); you have to click-and-drag, which is unergonomic and slow
  • You can only send seven items in a batch, unlike the 20-something allowed by CT_Mailmod or the unlimited numbers of Bulkmail2
  • There’s no feature for automatically pulling items out of received mail, unlike all the third-party addons.

So, it’s a nice start from Blizzard, but it’s in no way a replacement for the existing addons. If you currently use and love one of the third-party mods, it’s unlikely that this will meet your needs. If you don’t already use one, this is a handy feature.