Firelands, Firelands, Firelands. Oh, Firelands. My new love. I've made a few updates to my own UI based on some of the new Firelands boss encounters, most notably Rhyolith. Have you made any changes to your user interface based on the new content?
This week, we've got a user interface from Kahle that is eerily reminiscent of my own UI. I would like to think that my own user interface has inspired thousands, giving many people the hope and the drive to create beautiful and functional UIs of their own. My inspirational columns, combined with my astute reporting, have made someone's game play experience better, which makes me feel awesome and a little weird at the same time. Seriously, I have way too much fun getting to do what I do.
So, on to the UI. Kahle is a hunter (pitchforks down, please) who values plenty of space open on the screen and keeping the in-combat, hunter-specific addon elements close to the character. He uses a bottom bar approach with interesting uses of the minimap for gathering. I think you'll enjoy it.
Kahle's UI -- hunter, viewport, bottom-bar, DPS
Hey there Mathew,Thank you for the submission and email, Kahle. I wanted to spotlight something this week that took us back to basics, discussing the finer points of the bottom bar UI and also hitting on the changing nature of a UI based on the task being performed. One of the aspects I really enjoyed about Kahle's UI was that the configuration of his UI changes when in combat or gathering raw materials. With multiple configurations only relying on a few tweaks, you will be surprised at how much you can change, even in small amounts, that will make life easier.
I'm sending you my UI for my Hunter, Kahle on the Lothar-US server. Until recently I've always had very few addons, because I've been solidly in the "Those with few addons have few heartaches on Patch Day" camp. After reading a lot more at WoW Insider, I started to look for the UI Spotlight and Reader UI of the Week posts. It got me to check out different addons, and suddenly I was hooked. Most of my UI is borrowed from tips and techniques I've read or heard from others, but I like to think I've added my own spin on it too. I'm always looking for ways to improve and tweak it as well. I've found that the ones I've picked for my UI are well worth the effort of updating and maintaining.
My UI concept has three priorities: (1) keep things clean and out of the way, (2) make it functional for multiple classes (since I play a lot of alts), and (3) keep important things that I need to see near the lower center of the screen, especially in combat.
I make liberal use of Bartender, not only to reorganize the button bars, but to keep some bars hidden. Some of the bars appear only when I'm in combat (like in the lower center), other bars only appear when I hover over them with the mouse (bag bar, micro menu bar, stance bar, or utility bars on the right-hand side). This has made my UI so much more clutter-free.
This stuff does take time to set up, so my advice is to go into this when you can set aside the time and aren't in a hurry or starting a raid in five minutes. I focused on one at a time and found it all came together soon. Many addons have a Profile utility, which makes it a breeze to set up the same addon for multiple characters by copying the saved setup from one character to another.
Here's a rundown of what I'm using and why I like it:
1. CBH Viewport – This one enhances the "bottom-UI" approach that I like. But instead of just placing frames over the bottom section of the play screen, this addon "letterboxes" the screen by re-sizing the top or bottom (or both), giving almost a widescreen, movie-like quality to the UI screen and allowing you to place your frames or button bars into the black space. With this, you don't sacrifice any of the real estate of your game view by covering it up with buttons or frames. I don't think this one has been updated lately and my version is pretty old, but it still keeps working.
4. Shadowed Unit Frames
5. Tidy Plates & Threat Plates
6. SexyMap - This has tons of customizing power, though I don't use most of its functionality; all I was looking for was a simple square map that I could re-size and re-position at will, that would also hide buttons except on mouseover. Done and done. This is also great for gathering (my Hunter is a double-gatherer, mining and herbalism) because I can move the mini-map out into the right-center of the screen, make the map larger, and see all those juicy yellow dots much easier. Then when the queue pops, I just return it back to its happy home in the corner.
10. Stay Focused & Stay Focused Hunter Addon – With the onset of Focus for hunters, I quickly realized I was not paying enough attention to my Focus bar on the default player unit frame. Stay Focused and its Hunter addon gives me a free Focus bar that can be completely customized and placed anywhere. The Hunter Addon adds indications inside the bar of critical Focus levels required in order to fire off signature shots, so you can manage those situations when your Focus gets low and manage your rotation to get back on track.
11. Marking Bar
12. Omen, Recount
Other addons I use, not pictured:
Outfitter -- Still my favorite for setting up multiple gear sets. Would be really neat if it could tie your gear set to your current spec and change it when you change specs.
Atlas Loot -- Atlas Loot keeps getting better. The Faction displays in the new Cata version are very nice and easy to use.
Gatherer -- Must-have for gathering professions. Sharing node finds with guildies lets me live vicariously though them. Pining for the Highlands....
Auctionator -- Even if you only casually sell or buy items on the Auction House, you'll be happy with this one. The ability to sort all of the single-stack auctions into one line per price level alone makes this one worth the effort. Even the most infrequent AH user will save time, and possibly make or save more gold with this addon. Without really trying.
ATeam -- Everyone needs some comic relief now and then, and this one quite frankly is awesomesauce. It plays the theme song from the TV show "The A-Team" whenever you or a Death Knight in your group summons their Army of the Dead. Hah!
Awwwww! -- Also a just-for-fun addon. When you die, it plays various "game over" sound effects from classic video games, as well as the "so sad, you loser" tuba music from "The Price Is Right." I have that set as my default and I smile every time I die now. Death, where is thy sting? Why, overbidding on a set of steak knives, that's where, heh.
So that's it. A long list I know, but I'm pretty passionate about these addons and the difference they've made in my gameplay experience. One thing I don't have an answer for yet is the player buffs that appear on the top right of the screen. I'd like to move those farther to the corner, where the mini-map used to be. I look forward to reading the UI notes of others, because the best way to build a custom UI is copying... er, learning from others. Thanks for all you do!
The ins and outs of combat
Many people used to have the concern that a user interface screenshot shown out of combat was not a user interface worth seeing. I disagree completely, since a good portion of World of Warcraft exists out of combat, with your character in cities or locales, talking and questing with NPCs, and hanging out in the capital with the auction house and professions. It is also worth noting that these days, as addons move from a functional category into an aesthetic-driven choice, since most addons perform as well as the others in their categories, the best aesthetic choice wins over the others in its group. With better-looking addons, we get better-looking in-combat user interfaces.
So we now live in a unique world -- the out-of-combat and in-combat user interfaces don't necessarily have to look all that different. Sure, you've got new interface elements that pop up and more numbers on the screen, but at its core, the UI remains the same, functionally held up by tent pole constructs and an overall theme.
Take a look at the difference betweeen Kahle's in-combat and out-of-combat screens. As a hunter, many new things pop up for Kahle in terms of cooldown and pet management, but most of it is just above the bottom black bar. Pet and target unit frames are dealt with in a slim manner, placing the pet's target right underneath the pet's own frame. The hunter combat-specific action and utility bars, combined with hunter-specific addon Stay Focused, round out the middle area. The middle area is also separated enough by transparent space that anything that pops up under Kahle is going to be noticeable.
Gathering is one of those activities that does not fit well with my own UI structure because of the fact that the minimap lives in the same place that Kahle's minimap does. I don't usually use the minimap, but lately it's becoming a better tool with the introduction of notifications about where your target is located. While the minimap is functional in that regard, it's still sort of a pain to watch for mining nodes or herbalism spots.
Kahle's user of scaling up Sexymap for double-gathering is a great idea. Sexymap is easily moveable and scalable, and you can even quickly right-click the map itself to hit its configuration options for easy access. Just take note of your two scale values and you'll be ready and able to swap between your gathering and non-gathering Sexymap configurations.
There are tons of ways to enhance the minimap for gathering as well, like adding on Gatherer or one of the other incredibly useful gathering databases that help you plan your gathering route. These addons get pretty cluttered on the minimap, but using Kahle's system of two minimap sets could easily make all of this clutter manageable on a bigger minimap. You could even create a gathering and a non-gathering profile in Sexymap so you would never have to remember values.
TidyPlates for non-tanks
Kahle also uses TidyPlates as a hunter, which first struck me as odd because, frankly, I use TidyPlates on my warrior tank because the information it provides is right in my face, as opposed to Omen, which lives near the bottom of my screen. As I thought about it, TidyPlates and Threatplates made more sense to me on the hunter. You'll have a more straight-on view with the hunter instead of a kind of skewed, isometric, over-the-shoulder tank view, which will make the TidyPlates bars just as easy to see. TidyPlates is great for DPS classes looking for a good mob to fight in a group without having to tab around and watch Omen like a threat-hawk.
Great submission, Kahle, and thank you for the incredibly detailed email. I did have to cut a good amount of stuff for size concerns, but don't let that dissuade you guys from writing novel-esque submissions to me. I love every word of it all. Kahle's UI does a good job adhering to the goals set forth and keeps addons in check underneath the bottom bar. I am still not a fan of letterboxing or viewport addons that change your screen resolution and the size of the game window, but who am I to judge? It looks fine.
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.