Kaikuri's UI -- tanking UI, minimal interface art, symmetry
Take it away, Kaikuri:
First off, thanks for the weekly articles on both UI and addons. They are really helpful when I try to find out things I could add or change in the UI of mine, and I am sure I am not the only one.
The UI I am going to talk about was made with a Prot Warrior in mind, but also another little goal of mine; keep the looks and feel of the Default UI, but make it functional. I simply adore the graphics and feel of the default UI, but can't use it, because it is such an inconvenience in most places. For instance, the Unit Frames are borderline useless when tanking, because I can't keep tabs of my health easily, what with the name part blocking a lot of it out when quickly glancing. Thus what I have made here. I also use it for other classes (notorious altaholic here...), but mainly for my Prot Warrior. I will explain this in 4 parts, since I find that more meaningful and a little bit easier than just throwing down 50 addons and saying what I did with each and every one of them since they are in 4 distinct categories. There is a picture with labels that I will be referring to here. Also, the UI is 1600x900, on a laptop.
This is basically the area that I watch most in combat. It includes enemy cast bar, cooldown tracking, Health + rage, and so on. The cooldown tracking is done through ForteXorcist, with boundaries set to 5 min and 1 min. To track my Debuffs and short-duration buffs, I use Classtimers (little bars above the unit frames), and sometimes PowA. Perfect examples for when I use PowA for debuffs is Fading Light on Ultraxion; It's so much easier to track it when I have one HUGE icon on the side of the screen with a timer underneath it. My unit frames here is through Shadowed Unit-Frames, with Player, target and target-of-target enabled (last placed in between the first 2). The size of these 2 is so that I can see my own relative health in a quick glance when need be, as is for the Target when I use that option. The Target frame also shows debuffs on target on top of it, and buffs on target underneath it, making it easy to follow when to taunt for instance (Chimaeron, double attack for a case in point. Haven't checked DBM almost ever on that encounter due to this reason).The other little bar in that area is VengeanceTracker, doing what it says on the tin, really. Enemy Cast bar is done with Quartz, and in the middle so it is easy to see when the enemy does something that I need to react to in some shape or another (Ozruk Shatter, Ultraxion Hour of Twilight, etc). PowA, again is used to some extent above this area, but in combat, not for that much. Mainly tracking Victory Rush, Shield Block and Revenge (and Shield Slam but I've meant to remove that timer, I don't actually see it in combat most of the time), and for DPSing I have little rings showing the amount of rage; A yellow half-ring at 50, slightly bigger red/yellow ring at 75 and a spinning red ring at 100. Most (all) of this area disappears outside of combat when they are not used
Here at the bottom area I have few things going on. First off, my bars, done with Bartender4, and skinned with Masque: Darion. The Blizzard Gryphon's is in the options of BT4, and put there as a conscious choice, keeping with the Blizzard UI feel I mentioned earlier, and for the simple fact that I die a little inside every time I see someone has slapped 3 bars floating down there and been done with it. I can't stand it, I need some substance underneath the bars, which also resounds with the choice if skin I have; it was the only one I could watch floating a little without going nuts. Due to the options in BT though, I have omitted any sort of panels down here. Everything is down with the options in the addons present, be it BT, Chatter, etc. To the right of the screen, utilizing some opacity I have some extra bars too, mostly for professions, mounts, pets, etc.
Underneath the bars I have TitanPanel as my databroker of choice, with the essentials only (and yes, those are the things I check often). Of important plugins are propably these; DualSpec allowing me to assign gearsets to specs and switch to that with the press of a button, Instance showing my lockout on any of my characters regardless of server, and Social showing how many Friends, RID-Friends and Guildies are online, and showing the names on a mouseover. Very handy. To the right side I have Atlasloot button, my clock and volume; the Atlasloot button is here so it is nicely tucked away, but still easily findable when I need it. I will come to this a little bit later. To the left and right side of the action bars are the incoming and outgoing scrolling combat texts, so I can easily check them, but they aren't hogging valuable screen space either. This is done with Mik's Scrolling Battle Text (which I use mostly for the low health warning, hah).
Basically my 2 chat boxes, logs, statistics and raid frames. Tooltip is done with TipTac, so that it fits how things are going, and is actually not overlapping anything important. My chat windows are done with Chatter so I can move them far enough down and to the side. All unnecessary buttons are also gone, with the "scroll to bottom" only showing when I have scrolled up. Tabs are see-through until I mouseover them above the windows, where is also the input field. This is also the reason I have that little split between the chat window and the raid frames, which is done with Grid. Although to be honest with you, I absolutely hate this addon. The only 2 reasons I went through the major pain of actually getting it looking decent and fitting is because it gives me a nice and easy way to move party and raid frame settings between alts (I use raid-style party frames), and the fact it could be made slimmer than the normal raid frames by Blizzard.
The main plugins are GridManaBars, adding the ever-important manabars so I know when healer needs a drink, and GridStatusDungeonRole, showing what role someone has been assigned (pretty handy when you want to know which plate-DPS is actually the tank at lower levels...). Going back a little to the chat windows here, in the left side one I have normal party/raid chatter and DeadlyBossMods-information, and WhoTaunted telling me, well, who taunted. Extremely handy for taunt swaps, and also tells you exactly which guy is a tad too happy with his Death Grip (unless you yank it to me, in which case I love you). On the right side, I have mundane things like automatic loot rolls, trade chat, and simply for symmetry's sake outside combat. In combat, it is overlapped by Omen, which is still handy with the threat changes, again pointing to taunt swaps, etc. Over it is Recount, but hear me out before you rip it a new one due to size. Look over to the left side. Grid is in nice balance with the chat frame, exact same width and so on. Now think how the right side would look if I didn't make Recount as wide as it is, all lopsided with a lot of the balance tipping towards the left side. I'd love to make it smaller, but due to making the UI balanced, I have it as big as it is. It has the plus of making it easier to see the difference in damage though, since I am more of a visual person. TipTac is also over it, but mostly because I don't actually look at recount when I am waving my pointer all over the place, and the other way around.
DBM timers are put in the top right corner, with them showing to the left of middle when they are close to expiring, again for balancing reasons. I don't use any sort of buff addon, for a simple reason that I don't need one. The default is just fine for my uses. As for minimap, I don't use an addon for it either. The default is rather decent looking, although a little small when I happen to be farming (rare). The problem with buttons you have often talked about is actually solved really easily for me; I disable them and use slash-commands when I can. Need DBM? /dbm. Have to check SUF options? /suf. Need to move bars around? /bt. Thus the only buttons I have there are the default ones, plus Atlasloot, which is hidden down under the right chatbox alongside the clock and volume, MogIt (a rather new addition, may I add, probably gets disabled sooner or later), and WIM, the most used one. This little beast takes all my whispers and puts them into a separate boxes I can move around anywhere on the screen, and then hides them when I am in combat. If I had to pick one addon I will never let go off, this would be it, it's so ingrained to me. The button itself lets me pick what whisper I reply to if I minimized the boxes, and shows how many whispers I got in the middle of combat, also reminding me to check them.
To hide the annoying "Ability is not Ready Yet", "You are Out of Range", etc spam from the middle of the screen, I use Leatrix Plus, which also has other nice uses. I suggest you take a closer look on this one, it's a rather handy all-in-one addon for simple things like selling all grays, remove the spam when you respec, etc. For nameplates I use the tried-and-true combo of Tidyplates and Threatplates, customized a little to be pleasant to the eyes. Often I end up using these for seeing the health of targets instead of the real frame, especially if it's something like a trash add or a simple boss which doesn't do much.
So, that's pretty much it. Thanks for reading the wall-o-text, and if you got any suggestions, feel free to fire them. This UI is probably never done, although it is in a very good place where I can say I am proud of it. It went through 3 major and dozens of small changes before I actually sent it in, having planned to do so for a good while. Cheers!
Thanks for the email and submission, Kaikuri. One of the best qualities of a UI that includes interface art is that there is a bolder sense of boundary when it comes to certain UI pieces. By keeping the classic WoW
reliefs, Kaikuri retains some of the nostalgia of days before customizable addons and makes his middle action bar altar that much more prominent.
Kaikuri's UI is a modified tower form. The tower form usually refers to all of the players' addons stacked on the bottom middle area of the interface. This modified setup breaks up the tower into three smaller structures, making this whole setup resemble a fork. This type of UI is now called the Fork.
Many people use interfaces that stack addons rather than spread addons, because their eyes are more adept at darting up and down rather than sliding left to right, like in a reading motion. My personal preference is side to side because of the similarity to reading, in fact.
The Fork is more for people who like to move to a point with their eyes and then just move in a direction from there. With Kaikuri's setup, if you need raid information and chat, you point your eyes to the left and go straight down. If you need information on cooldowns and debuffs, look center and go straight down. The right side of the screen is focused on personal and raid DPS and enemy information. It's a nice setup, right?
Learning to love LDB
LibDataBroker bars and their associated plugins are some of my favorite addons out there. For a long time, I didn't use a TitanPanel-esque bar mod because I did not like the look of TitanPanel
or its compatriots down at the metaphorical addon bistro. Just something about the clashy colors and the amount of screen real estate it took up way back when I had my crappy monitor would always prevent me from experiencing how awesome TitanPanel
Eventually, my monitor was upgraded, my video card was replaced with a model that didn't require the constant feeding of coal into a furnace, and my graphics began to soar. With more space, suddenly the prospect of a bar at the top of my screen was the perfect way to log information that didn't need a huge graphical icon or notification. Badges, points, currencies, and all of those assorted things were just too good as text to pass up in bar form.
Kaikuri's UI makes great use of a bottom TitanPanel bar to slow in the LDB plugins needed to get whatever job done. The texture of the bar matches well with the texture of the two O.G. WoW
gryphons, almost making it look like they are part of the bar itself. It's a subtle but nice touch that doesn't like to show its seams. I approve.
Another one of my favorite aspects of Kaikuri's setup is that every possible important tanking, in-combat information readout is in a central, easy-to-see position. When you're in the zone tanking, it can get a bit easy to forget what you're doing and succumb to tunnel vision. Don't be a tunnel vision tank! That is not a good tank. One way to combat your tunnel vision is by putting all of the pertinent and needed information in the tunnel with you. That way, when you speed through that narrow little tunnel, staring at the center of your screen, at least you know when the next big attack is coming.
Sometimes I call this phenomenon tank cruise control. There you are, driving along at whatever pace, and you lock into the routine -- and bam, you're shaken out of it. It happens on Madness of Deathwing all the time. Sindragosa too. Oy. The bad memories are starting to creep back in. No. Go away. Get out of my heeeeead.
Wrapping it up
For a competent tanking UI, I think your setup is great, Kaikuri. I love the slick look of the action bar altar with adjacent gryphons on top of their Titan Perch. It's hard making a raiding UI look somewhat orderly, and Kaikuri hits this one home. Excellent work.
If I had to be nitpicky, I would say that you could even make that Grid raid frame even smaller, if you pay the same amount of attention to it as I do during raids -- which is not much. You might be able to free up enough space for something new, pushing the design even further forward.
Great work. Thank you again for the submission.
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