What it does
TradeSkillMaster (TSM) allows you to automatically queue up profitable recipes from your trade skills, automatically buy the mats if needed, automatically mail items to your posting alts, and automatically post and cancel your auctions. When I say "automatic," I don't mean "push one button and walk away" automatic. You do have to click once for each action. Still, it's a fair sight easier than having to sit in front of the auction house calculating everything by hand.
Who this addon is for
If you're reading this article because you want to take yourself to the next level of auctioneering, then this addon is for you. It's not an easy addon to set up, but it's not more complex than it has to be. Any addon that allows you to automate this much of your crafting, inventory management, and selling can't be too simple or else it wouldn't do much.
Also, knowing this, it's not loaded with features that aren't directly related to large-volume auction house play. If you want to list an item once, for example, you don't need this addon. It won't show you all your competition, and it won't let you post it unless you add it to a group for batch posting. I'd refer people looking for this type of functionality to Auctionator (which interoperates perfectly well with TSM.)
Once everything is set up, using TSM to keep your supply levels up and keep your goods on the AH is trivial. You may recognize this logic, actually; the whole concept of frontloading the research and thinking of auctioneering by setting up fairly complex rules so that you can log in once a day for 5 minutes was actually started by Quick Auctions. QA3 was discontinued with Cataclysm; however, TSM is a direct descendant of that code. If you were comfortable with QA3 (or AuctionProfitMaster or ZeroAuctions), then TSM will have some familiar elements. It is, however, a much deeper addon with an immensely larger scope than those were.
I used to have to use as many as five addons to manage my glyph business. QA3 was just the front end of the machine gun, but I had addons that helped with every step before that, from crafting to buying to milling. Well, solving the glyph problem was the first step, and now that logic has been applied to an addon that lets you use it for every single profession.
The level of complexity
I hope I didn't scare too many readers away by calling this addon "complex." Setting it up is a process that I will document in this column soon, but if you want to see some other writers' guides, they're available at the TSM wiki. I'd strongly suggest you read through Zoxy's and JMTC's guides.
That said, the only time TSM is complex is when you're learning it. The difference is that unlike smaller-scope addons with simpler goals, there is little you can do in TSM until you understand how it works. I'd suggest getting your feet wet by taking one market you're involved in and configure the addon to manage that. Use it for a couple of cycles before you go and apply your new knowledge to all your other markets. I discovered half the nifty little timesaving things about this addon after I had initially set it up.
Nifty, timesaving features
Here are a few things that really stand out.
When you are in the process of setting up your crafting interface, you have to choose your recipes you are willing to make. (So even if that Copper Shortsword is showing a 20g profit, you won't have it queued up and taking space for weeks until you clean out your bags.) The process is quite painless, but while you do it, you can automatically add each item to an auctioning group, which means you don't need to manually set it up later.
The default for new auctioning groups is to inherit their settings from the category, so no matter how many (for example) enchanting scrolls you add, each one will have the same pricing strategy you defined in the category unless you manually override them.
Unlike every other iteration of the QA3 engine, this one has the ability to set the threshold value (how far down you're willing to undercut) based on materials cost. This is amazing for things like enchanting scrolls, when each one has its own combination of needed materials whose price changes over time.
Once you've queued up a list of items you need to craft, the required materials are put into a nice, easy-to-read list. You can go to the AH and have it automatically show you the prices on these items one at a time. If you need something that's a product of milling, prospecting, or whatever, it will sometimes show you something you could buy to get the material needed. This feature is not yet as reliable as my own buying tools, though.
If your list contains anything purchasable off a vendor, there's a button over the vendor that will auto-buy your stuff.
Welcome to the future, folks. Casual auctioneers and hardcore farmers will still be the driving force in the market due to their sheer numbers, but with the ability to set up and use tools like this, the "hardcore" auction house players have the ability to accomplish their goals with unprecedented ease. I was listing between 30 to 60 auctions a week before I started on this addon because I didn't have the time to deep dive into the AH for longer than a few hours a week with all my leveling, PvPing, and raiding. Also, the more time I spent avoiding errors with my old setup, the longer it took.
Now, I float between 300 to 3,000 auctions at any given time, with no more than 30 minutes a day to do my jewelcrafting daily, re-list undercuts, and craft glyphs. I craft more thoroughly on the weekends, as always, and since I've finished the migration to TSM, my gold intake has taken a dramatic spike upwards. This will level off as my competitors start using it too, of course.
Looking for developers
This project is unprecedented in terms of its scope. It is the solution to 90% of the problems auction house players have. On the surface, it's easy to use and as easy to set up as possible; however, under the covers lurk some of the most gruesomely complex lines of code in my addons folder. It's a project that's well cared for, but the more people who jump on and start helping Sapu out, the more features will be added and the better this addon will cope with patches. You can chat with the devs on IRC
if you want more information.
Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped, plus the author's Call to Auction podcast. Do you have questions about selling, reselling and building your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is taking your questions at email@example.com.