Greetings, Reader UI of the Week fans. Everyone seems to have some sort of food poisoning or stomach problems this week, and I have no idea what is up with that. We have a national stomach epidemic here in the United States. Here's something that won't upset your delicate bodily balance; Jack's smooth and slick user interface setup, centered around grouping, dungeons, and questing.
While I am a raider at heart, my recent obsession has been with players and nonraiding UIs. Not that I think that there is anything wrong with a raiding UI, but as someone who primarily lives in raiding content, it is interesting to look and see what 5-man-focused UIs are built around. With the coming of the Raid Finder in patch 4.3 as an introductory raiding system, more and more players are going to have to adapt their 5-man UI setups to a raiding environment if they want to succeed in taking down the big bosses of the raiding world. Jack's UI is a competent setup that can make the change and stands up on its own two legs.
Jack's UI: dps, healer, tank, mage, 5-man, many alts!
Mat,Thanks for the submission and email, Jack. Jack's user interface warms my heart for many reasons but most of all because he took a solid setup and applied it across the board to all of his alts. As someone who has trouble getting into new alts because of my weird attachments to my mains, I can appreciate one UI for everyone in your own stable of characters.
Love your weekly column. I read it every week during server maintenance.
I play with multiple toons. Calling me an altaholic is an understatement. My UI is balanced for DPS, Tanking and Healing.
The focus of my UI is maximum screen visibility, flexibility between all my classes and quick access to all the data I need. I love seeing all the detail in the world that Blizzard has put in. When I'm walking around in a town or flying, I zoom in and out and rotate all around to see all the beautiful detail and effects in the game. This brings me to the (massive) addon list:
AdvancedTradeSkillWindow - The best way to level a profession. I love how you can queue a certain number of items to craft. If you don't have enough of an item, it'll add it to your "shopping list" for when you visit a vendor or the AH.
Align - Have to make sure the UI is even and neat.
Altoholic - You need this if you play with 3 or more toons. Lets me track inventory, gold, mail and time played.
ArkInventory - Makes sense of the terrible bag system in game. All my gathering items, mats, gear, consumables, quest items, etc... are all neatly sorted and seperated automatically. The built in search system is great for finding a specific item quickly.
AuctionLite - Allows me to quickly purchase large quantities of items for the lowest price in the AH. Also let's me quickly post multiple auctions to the AH without being too intrusive.
Auto Confirm Loot - Automatically confirms when I click need or greed on an item that would require it. Less clicking is always better.
BadPet - This is mostly for my tanking toons. It quietly whispers to the owner of a naughty pet that still has "growl" or other "high threat" abilities on. I hate fighting a pet for threat.
Bartender - Lets me position my action bars where ever I need them.
ChocolateBar - Puts information that would normally be in a separate window right in front of me. Below are the "broker" addons that are displayed:
Broker Repair - Automatically sells all the grey crap in my bag and repairs all my gear whenever it option is available.
Broker Wallet - Keeps track of all my gold and badges. I like being able to glace at this information sporadically.
Broker XPBar - Great for leveling. I'd rather know that I have 2 more dungeon runs, 15 more mobs to kill, etc... than see "3 bubbles". Also lets me track faction rep. Very helpful when grinding rep.
Dual Speccer - Let's me just click one button to switch specs. Also prevents me from queing in the wrong spec.
Volumizer - Puts WoW's volume controls in a very easy place for me.
Buffalo - Keeps all my buffs neat and organized in one easy location.
Button Facade - Adds a little more customization to the standard button icons.
Castbars - Simple addon to setup, let's me customize my cast bars. Global cooldown & latency calculation is right on my bar.
Cooking Helper - Helpful for figuring out what mats you actually need for each recipe.
Deadly Boss Mods - Standard.
Decursive - I've loaded my Healbot with so many click, shift click, alt click, ctrl click, etc... that i need an easy place to track the things I can dispel.
Error Filter - I discovered this while leveling my rogue. "I know I'm out of range. I just really like clicking this button right now. There it goes." I hate seeing the same error 12x.
ForteXorcist - Tracks my cooldowns in one easy place for me to track.
Gatherer - Cuts down the amount of time spent gathering, also works with the data from people in your guild that use the addon as well.
GupPet - I've defined which mounts I want to use in the world, BGs, Instances, etc and bound that ability to a single button. It randomly selects one of my favorite mounts and I'm on my way.
HatTrick - Simetimes I like seeing my helm and cape. Sometimes I don't. This places simple check boxes on my player info pane to turn those items on or off.
HealBot - Some people love the alternatives. Give me healbot. It's simple to setup and use for each of my classes. I set focus and cast all my heals from here. I like having it out of the way. Personal preference.
KgPanels - "It really ties the UI together." Removes the ugly "floating bar" syndrome. I like having simple transparent boarders.
Kong - Keeps the info I don't want or need out of the way.
MailGet - One button to quickly take all the mail in my inbox. Simple.
Mapster - Allows me to resize my world map. It doesn't need to take over the whole screen.
MoveAnything - Another standard.
Omen - Let's me see if i'm pulling too much threat. Or if some anxious DPS class is getting too excited durring a pull.
OPie - I'm able to hide a ton of info and save action bar space with this. DK presence, Warrior stances, Mage portals, etc... one easy ring that I can bring up, click on and have it go away.
Overachiever - Great for tracking achievements and such.
PowerAuras - Shows me a quick simple visual prompt when things are proc'ing. Simple and clean
Prat - I just love that it displays toon names with the class of their color. Being able to adjust font size is important as well.
Recount - I always love tracking DPS.
Sexy Map - Things that glow are pretty. Being able to hide the 100 addon buttons around my map is priceless.
Shadowed Unit Frames - It's a nice visual touch to have 3D models for the player frames. Being able to track energy, holy power, runic power, etc... in a simple manner is very nice also. Once again the classes are color coded on the player frames.
Tidy Plates / Threat Plates - When DPS/ Healing I love having all my DOTS appear over the mobs head. While tanking it's great to have a visible marker for threat.
TipTac - For moving and customizing the look of your tooltip window.
I've customized nearly every aspect of the game's default UI. To either simplify the AH, crafting or getting clutter out of the way. It was quite a challenge to find a UI setup that worked for all my toons. Kong and OPie are by far the best at doing this.
I do very little raiding. I'm all PVP and 5 man instance runs.
Any suggestions or comments from you or your readers is welcomed.
The intelligent use of lots of addons
One of the biggest missteps I see in user interface creation is using too many addons unintelligently. Lots of addons isn't necessarily the problem, but their use can be tricky, especially when the screen begins to fill up with boxes and grids and portraits and more. There are lots of culprits in this space, and Jack stays away from many of them sans the redundancy of the unit frames.
With Grid already monitoring the party, I would get rid of the party frames. While they look cool with the portraits, if you're going for the most viewable space, let them go the way of the dodo.
Many UI functions are also regulated up top to the broker bar setup, especially the volume controls, which I struggle with on a daily basis. As a DPS class, Jack's own stats are crucial since he will be the one responsible for not standing in bad stuff and keeping his health up with personal cooldowns. All of that information is easy to see and front and center. Everything works with similarly sized buttons and UI elements, and the general scope of the kgPanels and sectioned-off areas at the bottom of the screen look smooth and solid.
A UI for all occasions
Jack doesn't only play DPS classes, however. This UI is the staple setup for everything on the menu, from DPS to tanks to healers. The basic setup works because it includes each of the standard UI features for each role while maintaining enough wiggle room to add or subtract based on the character being played. Grid works for all classes and can be retrofitted to be a great healing interface. Jack uses Healbot, which can also double as a group and raid interface for nonhealing classes.
Dual-purpose addons can go a long way toward keeping your UI role-neutral. The one major pitfall, however, is keeping too many UI elements on screen so that you can be a healer or tank at any time when your character isn't equipped for it. Don't have your ultimate healing setup visible on your warrior, for instance. You're going to just get things cluttered again.
The philosophy of dialing back
Maybe that's the big take-away from Jack's UI -- the philosophy of dialing back. Jack isn't a raider for the most part yet, but one day he may very well be on the front lines of cutting-edge content or deep in the Raid Finder with his buddies. Keeping the UI clean and clear means that when he does eventually meet those encounters head-on, there is room to grow and expand rather than have to dial back at the last second. Adding to an encounter is much easier than having to rearrange everything or change your entire playstyle when a new challenge approaches. You have no idea how many healers began to ask questions about Grid notifications on showing certain health percentages after the Chimaeron fight. Keeping it simple means complexity is always welcome later on down the road. Build your UI the way you need it, and when new needs arise, build for those as well.
Thank you very much for the submission, Jack. You've got a great setup going. Work on those group frames for me, though, would ya?
If you'd like to submit your user interface to Reader UI of the Week, please send an email with screenshots and a description of your UI and addons, especially why you did what you did, to firstname.lastname@example.org! 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.