Chaos is inevitable. Our universe favors the breakdown of everything and anything, with order being held together by the most primitive of bonds, hanging by a thread over our celestial doom. Too high concept? Fine. Sometimes user interfaces get out of control, and there is little to do to stop it besides control whatever amount of chaos we bring about upon ourselves. This week's UI is from Melosh on the Wyrmrest Accord server, who does his best to control the chaos of a large amount of addons while still remaining information-viable. Plus, this topic lets me write blowhard-y introductions.
First, a request. Many people have emailed me and asked if I still do UI renovation-type columns, where people email in their UI and ask for a fix or ideas on how to change something. Of course I do! People have sent in some decent examples of stuff they wanted fixed, but I kept answering them in personal emails, forgetting it might be pretty great for the column. So if you have an interface fixer-upper question you want answered here or want to show us your UI looking for a makeover, send it to me at email@example.com. Yay!
Melosh's UI -- 5-man dungeons, healer UI, druid, priest, DPS UI
Whatcha got for me, Melosh?
I love your articles! They have helped me work from a super-mess(Wish I still had screen shots!) to this early draft. At the time, I tried to keep everything organized. Unfortunately, even as I slowly reduced the amount of clutter, it was often still very busy in certain situations.
As it stands right now, I have a fairly small UI. I mostly heal 5-mans, but I do occassionally tank/DPS or even raid heal. I needed a UI to adapt to my changing moods. I'm also trying to reduce eye movement. The closer I can look to the center of my screen, the better. Though I DO hate HUDs...
List of Important Addons:
Shadow Unit Frames: Very customizable. I used to use the party frames, but realized that 99% of the time, Grid took care of what I needed. I just recently had it take over for XP-tracking duty. I enjoy it's Holy Power/Combo Points tracking.
Prat/WIM: Really should go without saying at this point, but the
ability to hide tabs and modify the chat frames while keeping Whispers Instant-message style really helps clean up the UI.
Dominos: I hide a few bars on the side of my screen. Things I either
don't access often, or access with mouse button(Mounts).
TinyDPS: I just need a basic DPS tracker with a small footprint, and
this fit it perfectly!
Grid+Clique: I see people talk about it for healing a lot, but Clique is great for DPS too! My mage having Frostbolt to Ctr+Click and Ice Lance to Shift+Click and the like really helps out. I also went out of my way to follow the same bindings across all of my
healers. Example: Basic Heal=Ctr+Click, Dispel=Shift+Click, etc.
Cursor Castbar: Took some getting used to, but now I forget it's not
standard! Tried to play on friend's computer and I had trouble finding the cast bar.
Elkanos Buff Bars: See request below.
HotCandy: Easy track of a few HoTs...would like an alternative that
tracks DoTs as well as HoTs...
kgPanels: Obvious, but helps me unify my bottom bar.
MarkingBar: With CC being so important, this tool allows me to quickly mark things. The bonus of being able to use Raid-markers in 5-mans!
Minimap Button Frame: Gather all of those addon buttons together!
PowerAuras: Still implementing this on all of my toons. Very
customizable and useful!
SLDT: Easy to set-up. Completely replaced TitanBar for me.
My general layout focuses on the center of my screen with Clique covering most of my casts, but still have my action bars in case it spazzes out on me. I've had addons mess up during boss fights, and not being crippled in those situations have saved manylives. I like to keep two chats, one for essential chat(Party, guild, raid), and one for extra(like loot, trade channel, etc). I have a weird resolution on my screen (1280x1024) and I play in Windowed Mode, so keeping open spaces is important.
My question to you is this: I've used Elkanos Buff Bars since Burning Crusade. It works fine, but I usually lose important buff/debuffs in the long list, especially in groups with lots of buffs. Is there a good way to concisely list the buffs/debuffs I have on me at any given time that doesn't take a lot of room, or clutter my screen with 10,000 icons? Perhaps one that sorts the important ones while hiding the basic ones behind a mouseover(like default UI, but movable perhaps?)
Any suggestion on HotCandy replacement that would handle both HoTs on my healers as well as DoTs on my DPS?
Keep up the amazing articles! Almost everytime I see one, I
immediately log in and use some nugget of knowledge I gleaned from it to spruce up my UI and make it run that much smoother.
And thanks to all the amazing Addon writers at WoWInterface! All but DrDamage is from there, and there is always some gem to find
there (BankStack and LFDMonitor are two I found randomly there!)
Melosh of Wrymrest Accord - US
Thanks for the email, Melosh. Let me get this out of the way, before I spend my entire article making Seinfeld jokes.
There's one rule to controlling the chaos that many addons bring and especially that the raiding/grouping UI can bring to an unsuspecting player: Accept chaos. You might not be the minimalist savant who can turn everything into perfection on your UI overnight. Frankly, most of us aren't. However, you can accept the fact that things will be chaotic at first, and slowly chip away at that chaos into some semblance of order.
I'll give you a quick anecdote. For a very long time, I never changed the default Omen3 frame. It never annoyed me because, frankly, I had bigger fish to fry and it just wasn't annoying enough for me. Eventually, before a raid one night, I spent 10 minutes configuring the border and colors, and now it fits perfectly into the setup.
Approach the chaos slowly. First, move things into general positions. Second, mold each addon into the general setup you want it to look like. Third, put on the final finishing touches, one at a time.
What does it look like?
Melosh has made some key decisions related to controlling chaos. First, relegating addons to one part of the screen allows the viewing area to remain relatively clean. Like most bottom bar UIs, he's set a ceiling for the height of the addons on the bottom and worked around that limitation. The SUF frames are large and easy to read, and I'm glad that Melosh let Grid take over the party frame functionality, as I think that it is one of the best space-saving decisions you can make.
Second, don't be afraid to leave empty spaces and find addons to plug in there later. Nothing on the UI is permanent, and setups aren't perfect the moment you turn them on. Leaving a bit of wiggle room or leeway can help a great deal when you're stuck with an addition that you can't quite fit. Melosh, for instance, has a bunch of action bars that don't necessarily have occupants at the moment, but that doesn't mean that in the future there won't be some nice tenant that comes by and wants to rent. Leaving a little bit of room can do wonders.
Keeping long form buff bars to the side of the player or target frame is a great idea, especially if you're into bar versions of buffs and debuffs, as I am. You can even scale down the bars to a manageable height like Melosh did and keep things simple. However, the issue is the length of the buff list. Elkanos has filter lists that you can create (the last time I checked), or you could switch to something like Raven to sort your buffs based on your parameters.
My solution to big debuffs on a boss is actually rooted directly into Shadowed Unit Frames. On my target frame, I show only the debuffs that I have applied to my target on top, accentuated with large boxes that I can always see. OmniCC counts down their time and ticks, and I reapply as necessary. No bars or a million boxes needed.
If you're going the Raven route, make sure to create sets of bars for each frame (player, target, focus), and you should be set. You don't actually get too many buffs on you anymore, especially with buff/debuff homogenization.
Replacing the HoTs and DoTs
As for a replacement for HoTCandy, personally I like something more akin to ClassTimer, which was pointed out to me from the comments a while back. Let's make this our comment question of the week -- what is your favorite DoT/HoT combo tracker? Favorites of mine include ClassTimer and Sexycooldown/Forte.
A solid setup
You've got a solid setup, Melosh. Just remember to keep updated, don't worry too much about unused bar areas, and never let your number of addons control the chaos. Only you have the power to keep things simple and under control, even amidst the ever-growing amount of additions to your UI. Take it easy, make it simple, and go nice and slow. Your UI will thank you.
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.