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I have been enjoying Cataclysm way more than I thought I would. Sure, I knew that the expansion was going to be a great experience, and my beta testing time was filled with awesome dungeon runs and getting a feel for the lay of the land, but I never could imagine how the community could come together so quickly on the live servers. Everything has been really great so far, and I've been enjoying every second of it.
A lot of my enjoyment of the new content has come from the fact that all of my addons and interface elements did not explode when the new content went live. Having a few weeks to tinker around with our UIs helped a huge amount in getting everything ready for the new expansion. Thank you, Blizzard. Let's do that every time.
This week, Reader UI checks out Quantus' UI, a nice and clean user interface that takes a bunch of interface elements and does some unique things with them that I didn't really consider. I think you'll get some great ideas from Quantus' setup, especially the way certain elements on the bottom bar relate to each other.
Everyone knows my opinion of SpartanUI (reminder: too big for many people's screens), but I love the idea that Quantus ripped Spartan's textures apart and redid them to his liking. Here's what Quantus has to say:
Recently I decided to roll a worgen warrior as my main once Cataclysm goes live. This is my attempt at creating a complete UI for my new main character, which would serve both for leveling, and raiding -- once I'm done leveling the toon. I'm using a 1366 x 768 laptop screen, so minimizing clutter while optimizing the information provided was my main goal.
I also attempted to create a consistent color scheme throughout all the UI elements based on colors, which I felt suited the worgen theme best. Mainly a greyish, purple-ish blue, but also fainter tones of all the other colors used for health bars, etc. In conjunction with the color unity, I tried to create a sleek look by incorporating as much information into the bottom panel as possible (without cluttering it up, of course), so that there wouldn't be too many separate addon windows floating around. One of the panels in the UI, for example, doubles up as a slot for threat meters (for raids and instances) and quest tracking (for questing, obviously). Another incorporates the damage meters into the panel, making it all look more smooth.
The screenshots here are the current "leveling mode" of my UI, (being tested by a low-level toon) since I still have 85 levels to go once I get to start my worgen. Once max level has been reached, some quick and easy changes and additions will be made, in order to make the UI more suitable for raiding of course. The XP bar will disappear, for example, and instead there will be more action bar buttons to account for the increased number of spells, items, etc. Raid frames will be added and customized to suit the rest of the UI.
I had quit WoW (temporarily, apparently ^^) almost a year ago; now that I'm back after all this time, I feel I don't know that much about the addon scene. I would very much appreciate it if I could receive your suggestions for possible improvements (and additions) as well as those of the other readers, should you decide to feature my UI.
The addons I used are as follows:
- AtlasLoot - For obvious reasons.
- Auctionator - Once again, obvious reasons.
- Bagnon - Efficient inventory, as well as the customization I needed for the color unity. Also, unlike some other mods which allow you to see your bags as one, it allows you to swap bags without deactivating the addon, which should be useful while leveling.
- ButtonFacade - Cool looks, customization. Used to modify button shape and color.
- Chatter - More efficient use of space with regards to chat, customization options etc.
- Cromulent - Whatever fills the gap left by cartographer.
- CT_BuffMod - I like it better than its alternatives such as EBB, really clean and efficient buff display.
- Deadly Boss Mods - Obvious reasons.
- Dominos - The most customizable properly working action bar addon I know of. All the action bar buttons in the screenshots are of course keybound, but there is no need to show them since I have it all memorized. Also used to modify location and alpha blending for the game menu, xp bar etc. XP bar becomes brighter and shows numbers on mousover - most other buttons have some fade as well.
- kgPanels - The heart of the whole UI - visually at least. I used it to rip the textures from Spartan UI, and edit them to my taste. That addon definitely has great textures, but doesn't have half the customization options I wanted. So I came up with this solution. The bottom panels are slightly transparent; I like still being able to see what's going on down there, while providing a tangible frame for my buttons, info etc.
- Mapster - It's the new cartographer! I think.
- MikScrollingBattleText - Organized, efficient combat text. Also notifies when cooldowns are ready.
- MoveAnything - To be able to move everything, duh.
- Obituary - It's good to know why people died.
- Omen - Nice enough looking, fully customizable threat meters - gets the job done. Nicely.
- OmniCC - Clean way of knowing your cooldowns.
- Postal - Haven't tested it yet, it's description sounded useful though. ^^
- Quartz - Latency indicator on cast bars is a must. Customization options allow the bars to be placed and edited to suit the rest of the UI. Also, I have to say, the low-alpha target cast bar in the middle of the screen makes it impossible to miss an interrupt - quite handy imho.
- Recount - The detailed info it provides is essential for maximizing one's raid performance. Besides, we need damage meters so we can boast right?
- SellJunk - Auto-sells grey items when you open a vendor window. I used to use VendorFood because of the sheer awesomeness of having a button which said "Feed Vendor", but alas, it no longer works.
- SexyMap - Sexy looks & all the customization I need. I modified the runes and glows so that they wouldn't be too distracting. Low alpha, low revolving speed, and appropriate color.
- Shadowed UF - Doesn't use much screen space, looks clean, and provides all the info I want. Also customized backround and bar colors to suit the rest of the UI.
- SilverDragon - Knowing about rare mobs around you is good. Period. Haven't seen it in action yet though, hope it works properly.
- TidyPlates (Neon) - Looks cool, takes up less screen space than the default name plates, allows transparency for non-targets, provides improved information such as aggro status, and suits the rest of the UI.
- TipTac - More useful information on tooltips surely can't hurt. Besides, once the color and transparency is set, its tooltips go great with my UI.
- TomTom - The semi-transparent arrow showing quest objective directions, with it's color edited to suit the scheme, and location (somewhat) embedded in the UI both looks cool, and increases leveling efficiency, obviously.
- WoWPro - Blizzard's quest tracking info is clumsy and clutters up the screen. I used to use QuestHelper but it keeps giving errors even after updates, so I decided to try this - if it does everything it claims (properly), it should be a more than adequate replacement. Also, it can be hidden with a single click when doing instances, to make way for Omen, which uses the same panel, which I set in the bottom bar.
I hope you have the time to read this all, and sorry if it's a tad bit too long. I guess I'm a bit overenthusiastic about the issue. ^^
Looking forward to your reply,
Quantus of Ravenholdt (EU)
Thanks for the great submission, Quantus. Finding bits and pieces of user interfaces that you enjoy and fashioning new and unique setups that work for you. It's half the reason this column exists -- we're in a market of ideas, and the more your brain gets inspired by looking at others' work, the easier it is to spread some pretty good ideas.
Spartan no more
If you have the screen real estate for Spartan UI, go for it. Howver, most people don't, and for the amount of graphics on screen, you could probably do better with something simpler. I know I rag on Spartan UI, but I don't do it out of malice -- only the screen real estate issue. Quantus has taken the nice textures that he enjoyed out of the addon pack and fashioned a new bottom bar with kgPanels. SpartanUI handles the minimap well, so clipping the parts that work seems like a pretty solid plan.
Layering interface elements on top of each other is an awesome space-saving mechanism. Interface elements that never really appear at the same time are prime candidates for layering, as Quantus has done with his threat meters and quest log. Most quest tracking addons have an option to remove the addon during combat, and Skada, Recount, and Omen can all be hidden when out of combat. It's a perfect combination.
Color me excited
When a UI finds its way to my mailbox with a coordinated color scheme, I get excited. Taking the time to work your UI colors out is one of those delayed satisfactions that really make a difference. Taking the time to set up a color scheme and making sure all your addons are color coordinated leaves everything feeling complete. For me, it's one of the nicer things you can do to your UI.
Quantus uses some great addons that help the overall color scheme come to life in his UI, mainly TipTac and Bartender. TipTac is one of those addons that is incredibly customizable both in information and in design. Like Quantus said in his email, once TipTac was set up to his liking, it meshed well with the rest of the addons in his collection. I can't recommend TipTac more for what it does, and it should probably be on Addon Spotlight again, since we haven't seen it since 2008. I'll get right on that.
ButtonFacade, still the best addon ever, rounds things out with a subtle color and shape choice that sets the color and design scheme apart. People love ButtonFacade, and it's the simple things that make the addon so profound and powerful. Buttons just start to mesh with user interfaces with ButtonFacade, and you can't go wrong with what it has to offer.
Wrapping it up
Quantus made me like aspects of SpartanUI all over again. I still enjoy how the Spartan art handles the minimap, but I never enjoyed the amount of art that was on screen. By knocking most of the art away and keeping a very defined piece as the bottom bar of the user interface, I think Quantus is getting his money's worth. Frankly, if SpartanUI wanted to make a Spartan Lite of some kind made with its excellent art and a lot less screen real estate, I would be pleasantly happy and most appreciative.
See you guys 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, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.