For a big chunk of the gaming population, addons are mysterious things you download and hope will run. But for many talented people, they're an opportunity to help the community and make things easier for the rest of us.

Well, some of the tedium has been taken out of addon writing with the help of Microsoft. What?? Yep, you read that right. Microsoft loves WoW, too. Using CodePlex, their open-source project site, they have helped create an Addon Studio for WoW based on the Visual Studio package. The download contains everything you need to create addons, so don't worry if you aren't the owner of Visual Studio already.

So what does this mean exactly? The project team has converted the addon writing process from text and code to drag and drop. You get the look and feel of common programs like Visual Basic but with the command structure of WoW. By having the process be graphic, you just pick and choose what you want from the list.

Specifically, Addon Studio will provide an interface that allows addon creators to build in familiar surroundings. You'll also have the ability to auto-generate items like the table of contents or lua events. Error checking for FrameXML and Lua parsing also helps to speed the addon process up. Likewise, they have included Ace2 templates so you can still tap into one of the most commonly used addon libraries and updater systems.

Long-term, this should open up addon creation to those that enjoy dablling with programing, but don't have the time or skill to build them without a bit more structure. And that can only be a good thing.

[Thanks, Jason!]

This article was originally published on WoW Insider.

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