Happy 2011, everyone! I hope your New Year's was an excellent one. Reader UI of the Week is going to do things a bit differently today, as I return to where I began, so many months ago, and talk about the evolution of my own user interface as well as wrap up 2010 with a little review of the biggest things to take away from the column last year. In addition, we have a very generous offering from Vhei, last week's Reader UI of the Week, with a video describing how to achieve his setup and some links for the artwork. If you're an adventurous user, you may want to check that out.
2010 changes the UI
The past year has been very good for the World of Warcraft user interface. Cataclysm was obviously the biggest deal, bringing with it some awesome UI tweaks, features, and new elements to the grand scheme of things.
The new guild user interface is one of the biggest and best changes the game has seen, in my opinion. Instead of being a roster with a message attached, Blizzard highlighted the social and working-together aspects of the guild UI by allowing players to easily find guildmates who can craft items for them, as well as show all of the nifty perks and rewards guilds now offer.
While it still has a way to go, the raiding and group interface has changed dramatically and for the better. By incorporating an optional Grid-like setup for your group frames, as well as a new raid panel complete with new markers, role checks, ready checks, and options, Blizzard understands that the way it crafted raid frames wasn't expansive enough for the community at large. These new raid frames are a step in the right direction, but addon developers and authors are still the kings of that playground, offering even more customization and a robust array of options.
And as an aside for my fellow members of the giant monitor brigade, the new pixel-to-pixel UI scaling was an awesome feature, giving me a much easier space to work with when doing panel art and UI customization. Thank you, Blizzard. Thank you so much.
My own UI's transformation
My first Reader UI of the Week column ever, back on Feb. 9, 2010, was all about my personal user interface to give the readers a sense of what I like about user interfaces and where my personal preferences lie. Oh, so long ago! My UI has not changed dramatically from that time, but a lot of tweaks have been made and everything feels a lot better now. Gone are the free-floating addons of yore, replaced with very simple panel art I drummed up in no time at all. Gone is the paladin and the requisite paladin addons that dot the screen, now home to the stance bar and warrior abilities I so cherish.
Here's how things looked back then:
One particular reader emailed me with a simple question: "What were your favorite Reader UIs of 2010?" I'm not one to really pick favorites -- you are all special in your very own ways -- but for the sake of a wrap-up show, I think that can be arranged. Here are three of the UIs I think you should pay attention to when building your own custom UI.
Vhei's UI Vhei's UI from last week ended the year with a bang. The original UI was spectacular, but this one really showed off what you can do with predetermined places for everything on your screen. I loved the use of cutouts in the art for SLDataText modules as well as the crosshatch design. Everything fell into place, and the UI seemed like something that was real and a labor of love. Check down below in the article to see how Vhei put this setup together as well as find the parts to do it yourself, if you wish.
Fizziks' UI Mk. II Fizziks was featured on Reader UI not once, but twice, and each time his UI impressed me. The thing about the second entry, however, was that I never realized how compact a warlock's raid UI could be. The slim nature of Fizziks' second offering was so crisp and pretty that I wanted everyone to see how you could trim down your UI to the basic elements and, with the right addons and configuration, almost have no UI at all. It was a good thing.
Daedhir's UI 2.0 Daedhir 's user interface was concerned with keeping that "Warcraft" feel while still becoming a more minimalist compilation than Blizzard's default setup. It worked. Utilizing some of the same UI elements as the basic UI, Daedhir adjusted things in order to make the interface work for him while still retaining a bit of the WoW spirit. Many people complain that a lot of the user interfaces out there look more at home on the dashboard of a new car opposed to WoW, and for many people, Daedhir's UI was a fresh piece of work that gave WoW its feel back.
Vhei's UI tutorial
Vhei was kind enough to create a YouTube video and make available his user interface for all to setup! A fair warning -- you might be a little overwhelmed, because there is a lot of setup to be done. However, this is the perfect opportunity to say what I've been trying to say all year: Try things. Mess with your UI. Screw around with what the game wants you to move around. Toy with things. If you hate it, you can always go back to the default and try again. Have fun with what's in front of you because it's there like a blank canvas, ready for your personal touches and quirky additions. This year, try something new with your UI. I think you'll like it.
All of the information you need to find Vhei's interface is in the YouTube information, and the project is currently awaiting approval on CurseForge, so you'll have to wait a little bit until the art is ready to download. Until then (and I will let you know when), you can download the TitanPanel textures here. You can still watch the video, eagerly awaiting the artwork's availability.
Update: Vhei's artwork/UI can be found here.
2011 needs your submissions!
I have a feeling that Reader UI is going to be even bigger and better in 2011 than ever, and the success of the column is all dependent on you, our loyal readers. Here's a recap of what you should be ready to send in if you'd like to submit your UI for Reader UI of the Week. Email all submissions to email@example.com.
- Use big screenshots. The bigger, the better.
- Tell us about it! The best Reader UI submissions come from great explanations. Why did you put your Recount meter where you put it? What's the reasoning for your action bars' being off to the right? We love explanation. Don't be afraid to be too wordy or verbose; I can always clean that up.
- Guides help. People love seeing what addons go where. Even if it's not a visual guide, telling people (and me) what addons you use is helpful when people want to go and look for what you've used.
- It's all about ideas. We want your ideas and the pieces of knowledge you want to share. Pretend like you get to be substitute teacher for a day, and you get to tell the class about your favorite UI element.
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.