Emergency! Get ready people, let's move, move, move! We're going to need to get the whole pit crew together as soon as possible. This week, reader Crazyates the paladin sent me a plea for help -- tips and tricks to get his UI on course. He's playing on a laptop, so this week's installment of Reader UI of the Week could be very helpful to the small-screen crowd. We've got a lot of work to do! Release the kraken!
What follows is a plea for help:
Hello. Unlike some of your *other* submissions for readerUI of the week, my UI is not clean, neat, or very spacey. If you could take a look at my current addons, setup, requirements, and then give me a few tips, that'd be great! I've also attached a few screenshots, so you can see what I'm talking about.
I play on a 13" Macbook, in windowed mode (for quick alt-tabing). This doesn't give me a lot of screen space, at least compared to my brother's 21" monitor hooked up to his gaming rig. It ends up being about 1200x750 pixels, or whatever the WoW aspect ratio resizes it to.
-SpartanUI. This is a big one. I love nice, clean look of this addon, but it's disrupted by my small screen and other addons. It's lost a lot of it's original appeal. Note: SpartanUI uses Bartender for it's bar control.
-FuBar helps a lot in saving space.
-Omen Since I tank, this is a necessity.
-PallyPower takes up a lot of space. I liked ZOMGbuffs simply because it was smaller, but PallyPower is a little more "community accepted".
-CowTip Provides a bit more info, but can get pretty big.
-Decursive I tried it out for pvp, but i'm wondering how to simplify this, or if there is a more streamlined alt?
-PowerAuras I just like the look of this, and is a lot of fun to play around with.
-QuestHelper I minimize this most of the time, so it's not a huge deal.
-Recount is again minimized, but is nice to have every once in a while.
-LIke i said, my screen is small, so i can't just spread everything out. Trying to fit all the unit frames for a 25man makes me shiver. As you can see, when i'm in just a 5 man pug, i'm losing about 2/3 of my screen (esp with pets - pets take up a lot of space)! Talk about tunnel vision....
-Unit frames! SpartanUI does not let you customize the UnitFrames in any way. XPerl or any other addon adds a second copy of each unit frame, instead of replacing them. This is a myway-or-the-highway setup. :(
-Shrinking or eliminating any other addons: decursive, CowTip, PallyPower, and/or the chatbox, for starters
So basically I need help! I've graduated Addons 101: how to use your addons (or so i'd like to think :P ), but i need help with Addons 201: using your addons to get the look and feel you want. How and what addons can I use to replace/supplement my current setup to fix these problems? And then, how can I keep it updated to change it for tanking, dps, healing, of pvp (all of which i'm capable of: stupid pallys) ?
Thanks for you time, and I hope you can help me out!
-Crazyates - Human Paladin
-The Scryers (US)
Thanks for the email, Crazyates. I'm here to help. Let's see how much we can cover and get you on the right path to user interface clarity. Your choices for most of the addons you have selected are perfectly fine, for the most part. Your goal now, especially when playing on a smaller-screened laptop, is to strip away the superfluous and combine addons and spaces into a more efficient use of screen real estate.
Let's address the three main concerns you're having, and we can go from there. From what I'm seeing, your three issues are Spartan UI, needing a general UI philosophy or goal, and class role UI synergy. We can do this.
This is Sparta!
Your first step in this whole ordeal is to load Spartan UI into a cannon and launch it into the sun. I have nothing against Spartan UI. In fact, it's a pretty damn good beginner's suite for people who want something that looks like, well, Spartan UI. Every day I get a Reader UI of the Week submission where someone uses Spartan UI and adds to the interface. With that being said, Spartan UI does not belong on smaller screens and, frankly, has way too much art for my tastes. You just do not need that much frame art getting in the way of your other addons, which could be using up much less room. With Spartan UI removed, you will now have the wide open plains of screen real estate to populate with addons.
Bartender, paired with the always and eternal ButtonFacade, is more than awesome. Releasing your action bars from their spartan prison will allow you greater flexibility in their positioning. I would recommend checking out my little diagrams from my past Reader UI of the Week: Mar's UI. For Mar's UI, I diagrammed a sample user interface that is made for smaller screens. The main philosophy is keeping the center of the screen clear with a single FuBar or ChocolateBar at the top holding all of your dockable addons and plug-ins.
Your philosophy should be simple: Tetris. Fitting together disparate addons can be tricky but always doable. You already have a good number of addons hidden most of the time, so you're fine there. As a tank primarily, there's no reason to not substitute unit frames for Grid. Grid is a godsend to tanks because, most of the time, we do not need to know most of the information unit frames report. Grid features, by default, a red box in the upper right corner of a person's grid displaying whether or not they have aggro from a mob. Isn't that all you really need? Grid can replace your unit frames in 5-man, 10-man or 25-man content, making it a perfect addition to your suite.
As for unit frames, you cannot go wrong with Shadowed Unit Frames or Pitbull. I recently talked a little about Pitbull last week, so read over that paragraph for a quick primer on what to do with your now free unit frames.
Download Grid at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].
As a paladin, you fill many roles. You can easily craft a user interface that works for every spec you decide to play, with the right addons. Grid, as mentioned above, can be complimented with some excellent addons like GridStatusRaidDebuff, GridStatusRaidIcons and Clique, which when used in tandem create a very usable and very minimalist user interface. Clique allows you to bind some excellent spells to mouse-over click-casting for easy healing. Twigleaf's healer UI, profiled back in June of 2009, is an excellent example of the healing powers of Grid and friends. Remember that most pieces of the user interface can be static, especially as a tank or DPS. Your chat, threat meters and assorted general-use addons won't be moving anywhere, and Grid will double as a healing interface and as information for tanking or DPSing.
Download GridStatusRaidDebuff (requires Grid) at [Curse].
Download GridStatusRaidIcons (requires Grid) at [Curse].
Download Clique at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].
That should put you on the right path, Crazyates. The biggest hurdle you will have is the learning curve in retraining yourself in a new user interface, but the results will be astounding. Free yourself of Spartan UI and go it alone with individual addons fit together simply. All of that extra screen artwork that is now gone will free up a good deal of your laptop's screen. Try to keep your bars two to three buttons high and work around that. You'll have something beautiful in no time. Please report back after you have had time to slave over your interface, and let's see what you come up with!
Thank you all for reading this week. Before we go, I wanted to give you a few more suggestions for anyone who wants to potentially submit their own user interfaces. First, the biggest the screenshots, the better. I can only work with what I am given, so bigger screenshots can be manipulated better for the article and for closeups of addons I enjoy. Second, tell me about your user interface. Why did you put certain addons in certain places? I love seeing pictures, but I know the readers and myself would love to know the thought process that went into the UI. And finally, please send screenshots along with movies of your interface in action. Movies are fine, but I would appreciate screenshots along with it. See you all next week!
Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, your source for everything addon-related.