I'm getting super-excited for Cataclysm and have been hard at work on my Cataclysm UI that will go into effect around a week or so before Dec. 7. A fresh new expansion deserves a fresh new user interface, no? How about you join me and my Reader UI of the Week brethren for some tips, tricks and discussion on getting your UI ready for the big day?
This week, we have a nice submission from Mezzer, who is not only here to show off his UI, but also to get some suggestions for the up-and-coming Cataclysm version. A user interface looking for Cataclysm tips and tricks at the exact moment I wanted to discuss getting ready for said expansion? How fortunate! I am more than happy to oblige.
Lay it on me, Mezzer:
Your column has been a very useful source of ideas for my UI for ages now, so I figured I might as well show you what came out of all that. I've spent inordinate amounts of time fiddling with my UI over the years, learning addon code and drawing various "artwork," which ultimately resulted in the look it's now sporting,
I started out by setting a few simple goals; it had to have a uniform and elegant look, things had to be grouped and positioned sensibly, and it had to be as clean as possible. That resulted in having to do a bunch of artwork and coding some addon interactivity, in order to make things work nice and neat. My main is a mage on which I raid a lot, and I hardly ever do PvP, so my UI reflects that as well.
I had a good idea of what kind of layout I wanted and which addons I preferred for it, so here's what I went with, according to the screenshot with the highlights (excuse the haphazard enumeration):
1. Chinchilla A fairly customizeable minimap addon I've been using for ages.
2. Skada With a window called Recount for irony; I actually used Recount for ages, but swapped over to Skada because it worked better and for some of the customization options.
6. AzCastBar I've actually had a hard time finding a castbar addon which I liked (none of the more common ones worked for me), and although a bit quirky, ACB suits me perfectly.
7. TipTop You'll almost always wanna move your tooltip, and you get a bit of extra functionality with this.
13. Chatter Loads of chat improvements, half of which I don't use, while the other half is extremely nice.
14. Omen Go-to threat addon.
Pitbull4 Handles all my unit frames, including party and raid frames. Initially a bit tricky to work out all the customization options, but amazing once you get the hang of it.
- 10 player frame, with the pet and focus frames to the left
- 11 target frame, with target's target to the right
Dominos My action bar addon of choice; really simple to use and configure exactly the way you want it to behave (my main used to be a druid = action bar annoyances),
- 3 various spells I don't necessarily need hotkeyed
- 12 player debuffs
- 15 my main nukes and procs, macroed with other spells via shift
- 16 AoE stuff, procs, CDs, etc.
- 17 pots, healthstone, food, port, and mounts
Satrina's Buff Frames An essential part of every UI I ever made, simply because I love splitting up my buffs, and the customization options are awesome as well.
Thanks for the submission, Mezzer. One of the hardest challenges of getting back into WoW after a lengthy hiatus is definitely the interface, since things usually change a great deal in short periods of time. New addon versions, different code across expansions, and new addon creams of the crop are lauded by the community.
- 2 player buffs over 10 min. (& auras)
- 5 player buffs under 10 min., not cast by me
- 8 my buffs under 10 min.
- 9 target buffs / debuffs cast by me
You also don't see Power Auras and Mik's Scrolling Battle Text there, plus a bunch of various things in the background that aren't really important. As you can see, I like keeping the middle and sides of my screen as clear as possible, and grouping things up in various arbitrary ways, which works for me. Looking at it now, I think I managed to get a nice and uniform look with some decent aesthetics going, while displaying all the info I actually use when I play.
Now, I recently came back from a rather long break from WoW, and I'm happy to say that my UI survived the pre-Cataclysm fairly well. That said, I don't think it'll work for me anymore. :) Apparently, that's just an unavoidable fact when it comes to messing with your UI; you're never done for very long.
So, before I start over from scratch, I'd love to know what you think of what I've got ATM, what could be better in your opinion and so on, so I could potentially use that in my new design/layout.
Thanks for taking the time to help random people with their UI woes,
Just getting back
If you're just coming back to WoW, I would recommend reading my Addon Spotlight from a few weeks back, detailing some of the new interface changes that Cataclysm and 4.0.1 brought with them. Some of these interface changes got rid of the need some addon functionality completely, as well as adding in a whole bunch of new, original Blizzard art for addons like Power Auras to use, which is pretty cool in and of itself.
Getting ready for Cataclysm
Here's the quick field guide for getting ready for Cataclysm in three words -- update, back up, and profile. First, update all of your addons to their newest versions. I recommend doing this manually, since there has been a recent uptick in some auto-updaters giving players problems with nasty pieces of software. Second, back up your interface and WTF folders somewhere else on the hard drive and name them something like WTF-backup and interface-backup. If for some reason you have trouble, you'll want these backups available after your new Cataclysm install. Finally, make sure all of your addons' profiles are set correctly to display the proper settings. Sometimes addons reset their profiles on a reinstall, so switch back to the appropriate profile and you should be good to go.
This week's UI
So let's talk about Mezzer's UI and give some tips on making the transition to Cataclysm. First off, the basic structure of the user interface is fine, with a bit of a modified LUI look with some nifty borders that I think compartmentalizes interface elements very well. The Pitbull frames are high for my tastes, but that's a matter of preference and if it works, it works.
The fonts are clear and the colors allow for plenty of delineation between UI elements and the world around them. As a fan of utility bars and separate action bars for trinkets and portals and such, I like the three separate bars approach.
While I like the delineations made by the border art -- and after spending all Sunday watching competitive StarCraft 2 matches, the art was a happy sight -- I am less enthused about the spacing of elements. You could probably nudge everything a little closer together, freeing up even more space.
Are you that invested in the Pitbull bars being as large as they are? It seems like you could save on a good deal of space by either repositioning the player and target frames or by changing their size. As of right now, they are the focal point of the UI, large and in charge, smack dab in the center. What about moving your Omen meter to the right side and lowering the rest of the UI down a good inch and a half?
For Cataclysm, I think you've got a pretty good setup, Mezzer. It's clean and provies ample room for expandability once all those new Cataclysm ... things decide to pop up. Expandability is extremely important for a new UI so close to an expansion, because we have no idea what the new content will bring in terms of addons we'd like to have or are even required for raiding, etc. So far, so good. Excellent submission.
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, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.