For a good while now, laptops have been the new desktop. These days, people want laptops that do it all, gaming included. Whenever laptop UIs are submitted to Reader UI of the Week, I like to give them a bit of extra notice because the need for more laptop-based UIs is growing more and more each day. Send in those laptop UIs and your laptop-specific concerns, and we can have even more tips for our portable brethren.
Vqsharix is looking for some insight into cleaning up a laptop UI, but I think that we can talk about some healing ideas and spatial movement of healing UI elements. It could be fun, especially if you like talking about the location if addon elements on your screen. I know I do!
Vqsharix's UI -- laptop, healer, paladin UI
First, as always, I will let Vqsharix take center stage:
Hi,Thanks for the email and submission, Vqsharix. I think that the basics of Vq's UI are set and don't need to be moved very much. The large block of action bars and buttons works for many setups, with no difference here. Taking off the art helps save space and leaves the buttons as their own focal point. Unit and player frames are in a good, central location, but the amount of data in each window is a bit much for me. It's probably my eyes, but I just can't have that many numbers so close to one another. Other than that, I like it.
I've wanted to submit my UI for a while now and just haven't gotten around to it because it seems there's something that always needs tweaking. I was also hoping for some insight because I always feel I can never quite bring it up to the quality of some of the UIs showcased on your column. But first, my current UI.
My main is a Holy Paladin so raid frames are a huge must, along with appropriate access to cool-downs and buff/proc management. I also have a tendency to go from alt to alt so I need a UI that would basically accommodate every role, on a laptop's 1366x786 screen. To compound the problem I don't stick to just one play style, I hope from solo, to 5 mans, to raids, to arenas, to BGs on a whim so my raid frames had to have the space to range from 1 person to 40 people. This brought to light the floating VuhDo panels you see on my screenshot(s). On the right is the whole raid/group frames which build from the left out, easily expanding to accommodate the number of players I work with at any given time, while on the left is my "Private Tanks" panel with lets me manually set the tanks in a raid (raid leaders can never seem to set the tanks as main tanks >.>) as well as shows a focus and my current target, along with all their targets (handy for Judging a tank's target). When a player is near full health and doesn't have a debuff I can cleanse their unit fades out so I can quickly determine who needs heals most and so my raid frames are less obtrusive.
I have 3 action bars in total, along with several pie menus set up by Opie, 2 along the bottom and 1 at the side to which my Razer Naga's number pad is bound. I have tried bringing it down to just 2 bars, I really have, I just can't let myself be missing abilities from my bars in case my VuhDo fails. Button facade of course makes the buttons look sexy.
Above my main action bars are my unit frames, I've got self, target, and target of target all laid out neatly nestled between and in line with the kgpanels to the left and right. The left kgpanels obviously holds my prat, with filters allowing for chat (and on my bank alt trade chat >.>) while the panel on the right holds SBF bars, VuhDo's buff watch, my Naga bar, along with some convenient SLDataText info to fill the space. The further off DBM timers stack up at the bottom right over my chat, and then appear over my tank frames when they get closer. Titan Bar of course runs along the bottom with various useful pieces of information along with different addon buttons so they don't have to stay on my minimap (squared and faded out unless on hover thanks to SexyMap). Rounding off the bars on my UI is quartz which has my cast bar above my head, my target's cast above my target frame, along with any non targeted casts it can determine appearing to the left of my cast bar.
Power Aura's (classic) of course is very prominent, covering when my mana trinket is up, when my Judgements of the Pure has fallen off, when I have daybreak, and when i fall below 33% mana (thats the giant red exclamation mark in my first screenshot). I had to get a separate addon to mark my Holy Power (KAHolyPower does the job, i'd rather have Power Auras Classic do it though).
Other Addon's usefull to my UI
eAlign - Very usefull for placing the different elements on my UI
Tidy Plates – Pretty self explanatory
Addon Control Panel – Helpfull to manage all these wonderful addons
Mik's Scrolling Battle Text – I like to see numbers fly, and it can often be usefull
MovePowerBarAlt – For the atremedes and the cho'gall fight
TipTac – Powerful tooltip addon
Combuctor – My bag addon of choice
Gladius – Arena addon of choice
So that's pretty much it, thoughts, criticisms and suggestions much appreciated!
Where to put healing UI elements
There is a great debate among healers about where to actually put healing UI elements on the screen. There are a few approaches to the issue. First, you could put your healing elements front and center, right in the middle of the screen, as that is where most of your attention and sight is pointed at for most of your gaming experience. By putting your healing elements in the middle of the screen, you can watch your feet while still watching your bars. Second, you could move your healing interface over to a barren area of the UI and be aware of the areas below your character's feet by using peripheral vision of an addon like GTFO.
No matter where you put your healing stuff, it's important to think about spatial priority. You're going to be clicking with your mouse on the game environment to put down AOE abilities, clicking on your Grid/Healbot/Vuhdo, and trying to keep track of bars and your mouse tracker all at the same time. It can get hectic, all things considered. Think about where your cursor is at rest and design and place around that fact. Some people rest their cursor at the side of the screen. Others rest their cursor right in the middle. Think about where you like to holster your cursor, and maybe that will clue you in to the best place to keep the most important healing addon elements.
Keeping things tight in your UI makes for better spatial awareness, especially in heavy movement fights that seem to crop up more than ever these days in the raiding environment. How many of you have gotten pieces of your interface in the way when you are trying to dodge fire and magma waves on the Rhyolith encounter? Stop lying -- you know you've been hit by those more than once. Positioning UI elements is as much about keeping things out of the way as much as it is about keeping things in a convenient place.
OPie bars are a great resource because you cannot even see them on screen. They are happily hidden away, on call and ready whenever needed. Professions and trinkets are great examples of OPie bar uses. Keeping the tanks off on their own area of the Vuhdo window is a great tracking tool, especially when things get hectic. (At the end of the day, it's usually best to keep the tanks alive.)
For scaling raid sizes like Vq deals with regularly, keeping your party/raid frames floating is usually the best idea, since you can move it on the fly to the correct location or your preferred spot.
Aren't laptops just portable desktops these days?
A lot of people write in and ask me if there are any laptop-centric UIs out there that have any major differences from their desktop counterparts. I am always baffled by this question. Yes, most laptop screens are smaller than the average PC monitor. But isn't it all just World of Warcraft, at the end of the day? Laptops are just smaller WoW UIs.
Here's how you want to think about your laptop UI over the desktop equivalent -- and it really isn't about space. The key word is scale. Some things in game just do not need to be as big as they are, based on the defaults or how people configure their UIs. If you are comfortable with your keybinds or action bars, those can be scaled down. Are you a non-healer? Well, you can certainly scale down your group and raid frames, for the most part. Scaling is more important than actual positioning.
Your DPS meters? Scale them down. Chat box? Potentially needs to be scaled up, if you cannot see the words. Minimap? It's a candidate for scaling down if you ask me. You don't make too many concessions these days WoW gaming on a laptop and certainly not any concessions when it comes to addons.
Thanks for the email and the submission, Vq. I am always on the lookout for laptop UIs, and your setup feels lived-in and homely. Everything seems to work for you, and that's what counts. My biggest advice would be to think about scale and the clumped-up information and numbers. You might find out that just a little spacing could go a long way.
See you guys next week.
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