A tradesman without tools would be challenged to create any final product. WoW isn't much different. If you're looking to master multiple professions across multiple toons, and make the most of your crafting time, you may eventually consider picking up a mod or two to help you.
I was recently introduced to Advanced Trade Skill Window by a guild mate who, like myself, has multiple characters with many, many professions. The idea in my alt farm is that I'm trying to produce myself any final product I might need. This includes enchants, reagents, and even the transmutes required to produce gems. As we were chatting about this kind of set up, she immediately filled me in on the basics of ATSW. Gregg first looked at ATSW for AddOn Spotlight back in October. But considering how helpful it is to profession-hounds, I wanted to spend a little more time with it now.
Advanced Trade Skill Window replaces your standard in-game trade skill windows. Whenever you hit the action button for your profession, Advanced Trade Skill Window will automatically open. Right off the bat, you'll get one of my favorite benefits of the mod. The screen is much, much bigger than the native interface, which gives you a lot more room to scroll through your recipes. But, obviously, there's a lot more to the tool.
The basic setup of the mod is stupid easy. You download the mod (I got mine from Curse), power up WoW, and log into your character. You might want to make sure it's enabled, if you're using some other system to control your mods.
As soon as you log in and open your trade skill for the first time, the mod will scan your available recipes to store in its local cache. I'm not much of a tech guy, but there's different options the mod uses across characters. It makes sense that it would have to store that information to your hard drive for when your character's window isn't available.
The scan's fairly quick. My home computer is pretty robust, but I loaded my trade skills while hanging out in Dalaran -- not exactly a lag-free place to hang out. It only took a few seconds to load about three hundred recipes. It's pretty quick about its business.
Maybe it's just me, but I've always felt a little limited by the in game interface. Sometimes I want to be able to browse my recipes by name, by category, or by whatever other method I think of. Most importantly, when levelling up a new craft, I want to be able to put my entire inventory of recipes in order of level.
Order by Categories is your basic organization for recipes. You're already accustomed to this method. Order by Names puts your entire list of recipes for that profession in alphabetical order. I've not used that method a lot, but I imagine there's probably folks who like that way of doing things. As I mentioned before, Order by Difficulty is an absolutely fantastic choice when you're leveling up a new profession. It'll keep all your orange recipes on top, gray recipes on the bottom, and sort the remainder appropriately.
Custom Sorting is a pretty interesting option. Basically, you use the Edit button to set up your own custom categories, then select which recipes you want included under that category. I use it to keep track of my epic gems by basic role information -- Tank, Physical DPS, and Caster. While the native interface is pretty handy for organizing by color, I like to be able to browse my tank-centric or hunter-centric recipes much more quickly than that.
The Materials Available check box obviously restricts your searches to the items you can create immediately, and Filter lets you filter your categories against particular words. (Saronite for example.)
While perusing your massive inventory collection, ATSW will pop a hover tooltip from your mouse without you having to click each recipes in your inventory. It's a pretty subtle, handy little feature. I didn't really "get" its value at first, since I've never been one to find a single click too great a burden. But, when I'm trying to check out my recipes en masse and putting together a crafting plan for the evening, the mouseover tooltip is super convenient.
Another handy feature is Advanced Trade Skill Window's Queue function. While you're putting together your crafting plan for the evening, you don't need to stop and write down all the recipes you plan on using. Instead, as you select each option, simply select Queue.
When you're ready to start your crafting, you select Process Queue. ATSW will create the first item on your list. Once that's finished, you click Continue Queue, and ATSW will keep moving down the list until your entire queue has been completed.
Obviously, you can also use ATSW to create necessary reagents before you create a final product. (Say for example, the Deep Thunder you need to create Stormherald.)
The best feature of Advance Trade Skill Window, in my opinion, is its plug-and-play interactivity with the Auction House. Let's say, for example, I'm on my main craft character. I want to create some items for guild mates, or even to sell for profit. But, I'm missing reagents.
I first add the desired items to my crafting queue in ATSW. I then hop over to my bank alt, and pop open the Auction House interface. ATSW has its own window that will populate under the Auction House window.
This window will automatically include all the reagents I need to complete the queue across my characters, as well as how many of those reagents are available on the Auction House. (This window actually works for any merchant, but I mostly use it for the Auction House.)
If you click the line item in this window, the mod will automatically fill in the Search box in the AH, and perform the necessary AH search for you. It's pretty darn handy, especially when I'm trying to fulfill a long list of orders for crafted items.
And much more!
ATSW actually will help you organize all of your crafting reagents as well, looking at the banks on multiple characters to try and help keep your reagents straight. It has a lot more features that you'll really only appreciate after playing with the mod for a while.
If you're going to be bringing your professions up to a mass-production level, I can't recommend Advanced Trade Skill Window enough. These are the basics of the mod, but these benefits already show you how much can be done. At this point, I really consider ATSW as indispensible a mod for crafting just as much as I consider Auctioneer indispensible for the Auction House.