With many players getting ready to return to the World of Warcraft when the newest patch Hour of Twilight hits the deck, I thought it might be good to look at some more bare-bones approaches to user interfaces since setting up a whole new UI, especially after being gone for a while, can be daunting. A good friend of mine recently started playing his death knight again after a long time being absent and asked me what addons he needed. As my smile quickly turned into a serious, broad line and my lips lost all sense of joviality, I realized that one of my best friends hasn't been reading my columns.
Anyway, today we're taking a look at Aeide's user interface, built from the ground up with love and care. Aeide is a PVE player exclusively, with a penchant for pushing everything to the bottom of the screen and keeping the middle and top as clear and clean as possible, much to my own heart. With some simple kgPanel work and some minimal planning, you too can space out your addons and give them clear little borders to live within. Any UI that promotes addon segregation is one step ahead in my book.
Aeide's UI -- tanking UI, DPS UI, kgPanels, borders
Show it off, Aeide:
Hey Mat.Thank you very much for the submission and email, Aeide. From your email, it was easy to grasp that buffs and debuffs were a rough spot for you for some time, as they are with a lot of players. Today we'll spend a little bit of time talking about reserved buff areas as well as just what the heck to do with buffs and debuffs.
I'm a longtime reader of both Reader UI of the Week and Addon Spotlight, and I think my UI is finally, after about two years of tweaking, ready for submission.
To start with, I solely PvE. It's incredibly rare I do any sort of PvP at all; maybe the odd BG or TB here and there, but that's only once a month (if that often). This UI is focused around PvE gameplay, but I'm sure it would work decently in PvP as well. I've known for a long time I've wanted the top 80% of my screen free, and this UI reflects that.
The main addons I use are as follows:
KGPanels obviously a focal point, this UI would look like utter junk without it.
Shadow Unit Frames I used X-Perl for a long, long time, but recently made the switch to SUF. Just looks a lot nicer, in my opinion (though the borders on the majority of my UI are still X-Perl Thin themed).
Dominos The ultimate bar addon. Gets everything where I need it with options for everyone.
Chatter For all your chat-box needs.
Raven The best buff/debuff addon I could find after Satrina stopped updates.
Recount/Omen Recount for damage/healing meters out of combat, Omen for threat in combat.
SexyMap Default minimap? Not nearly sexy enough
PowerAuras Checks all my buffs to ensure nothing goes wrong or falls off.
NugComboBar Tracks combo points and maim stacks.
Adibags Another addon I recently switched into (out of ArkInventory) on the recommendation of Addon Spotlight.
Tidyplates Just a simple nameplate addon
Grid For my raidframes
SexyCoolDown tracks my cooldowns on a nice bar for easy-to-spot cooldowns.
TipTac The best tooltip addon, period.
I believe the most unique portion of my UI is the reserved buff area. To the right of my bars is where I keep all buffs with a duration longer than 2 minutes (basically all my raid buffs), while shorter buffs like heals and cooldowns appear directly above my player frame. Debuffs show slightly above the short buffs, much larger and red, as any good tank should have. My buffs were always the part I never found a nice place for, and this solution has worked out great for me. You also may notice a lot of important druid icons missing. All are hidden and bound to my mouse so as to take up as little space as possible. There are a few exceptions, such as Skull Bash and my "pop all CDs and try not to die" macro which show as B12 and B3 on my lower action bar, but most are simply not showing.
When I started making this UI, my main was a hunter. That smaller, top bar is where his pet's action bar shows up, along with all the pet-focused abilities like Call and Dismiss Pet. For my druid, I kept that vibe, with lesser-used class abilities, such as all my forms, battle rez, and Gift of the Wild.
I think I've finally got my UI to the point where there won't be any major changes anymore, but if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Thanks a lot for your time, and your continually excellent Addon columns - you can never have too many.
-- Aeide (Feral Tank of
, Whisperwind US)
Buffs, debuffs, and a constant struggle
I will admit to having trouble finding a good place for buffs and debuffs for every person out there. Besides the minimap, buff and debuff placement seems to be one of those very controversial, how-I-like-to-do-it aspects of the UI. There are general statements you could make about the action bars being in the center of the screen or the placement of the chat box, but no real, general understanding emerges about buffs and debuffs. From the beginning, Blizzard put them up top on the upper right-hand side of the screen next to the default minimap, which while effective isn't always the first place that you're going to be looking at any given moment during an action-packed fight mid-screen.
Personal debuffs seem to be way more important these days than buffs, for the most part. With the exception of a fight like heroic Nefarian and watching your stacks of Stolen Power, personal debuffs are a monumental issue for many people, and can wipe your dungeon group or raid if you aren't careful. With the Raid Finder coming, knowing what debuffs you've got running is definitely a boon to the potential successful completion of the task ahead.
I like Aeide's separate, self-contained buff pen. It's like going to the petting zoo at the Darkmoon Faire island and seeing the little buffs and debuffs grazing around the enclosure and feeding them food pellets. No, little Timmy, don't try to ride the Mark of the Wild. Move your hands away from Luck of the Draw. It might bite.
Keeping your short-duration buffs separated from your long-duration buffs is one of those crucial aspects of buff management that not many people think about. My preferred buff and debuff addon of choice, Elkano's, sorts buffs by their duration, leaving the longer buffs at the top and the shorter, more frequent buffs down at the bottom of the list. This allows me to quickly see new buffs as they appear on the list since they will always appear at the bottom of the list and not in some wacky alphabetical order or some such. My buffs are still in the top right corner of the screen, but in a list format instead of the "button" icon form that Aeide uses. It's all a matter of preferenc, so use what is more comfortable for you.
A pen walled off for debuffs is a great idea as well; however, it's less than useful for seeing exactly what you've got on you at a moment's notice. My preferred way to deal with debuffs is to move them on top of your player frame, much like Aeide has done. Elkano's again allows me to turn debuffs into a list with a timer, giving me the full name of the debuff over my health and rage bar, making me instantly aware of anything dangerous that I might be carrying.
Icons again work fine, but by personal preference, I love seeing the name of the debuff without having to mouse over the icon or guess based on the little picture. Combined with a raid addon like DBM, however, there really is no excuse these days in knowing what or where you should be based on your debuffs. Some players choose to go a totally different route, setting up debuffs in the middle of the screen so that their eyes never have to move an inch to see what is affecting them.
Simple kgPanel panels can go a long way in helping you plan out your interface and penning off addons with simple borders. Borders make everything feel like they have a place, look clean, and don't run into each other like a red sweater in your load of whites. Don't let your addons run into each other, or you'll get PlayerPowerBarAlt syndrome, where that darn bar always seems to wedge itself at the bottom of your screen, weaving in and out of your action bars. If this has happened to you, you know exactly what I mean.
Make simple boxes with kgPanels and tinker. Then you can move on to positioning those boxes and resizing them to fit your addon needs. A little practice, a little patience, and some creativity will go a long way.
Thank you for the submission, Aeide. You've got a clean setup with everything you need right at the bottom of the screen and the segregation to prevent bleed-over. Your addons 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.