As many of you already know, my go-to recommendation for pre-fab compilation user interfaces is ElvUI. I love this addon pack because the skinning of the interface keeps the game uniform with easy-to-read fonts and lots of information for both the novice and expert, and it's updated enough that, for my purposes, I've never really worried.
Bryce's user interface starts with an ElvUI foundation and moves toward full-featured completion with a bevy of new addons not included in the pack. Filling out the areas that ElvUI doesn't necessarily cover, Bryce has complemented the addon pack with addons necessary to raid and function, as opposed to addons that skin or change the aesthetics of the user interface.
Here's the part that interested me about the aesthetics issue: None of the addons that Bryce added to his setup changed the way ElvUI actually looks. Sometimes you get to talk about behind-the-scenes addons. Let's have fun with it.
Take it away, Bryce:
Hey there,Thanks for the email and the submission, Bryce. As I said at the beginning, it's very interesting to me that the UI remains largely intact as Elv's, yet much of the behind-the-scenes and raid quality checks are custom added. Elv's isn't necessarily the most full-featured for the raiding guru, but that's the beauty of adding on, right?
Just thought I'd submit my UI because I've gotten a few whispers and comments on youtube about it and figured they must read WoWInsider so why not? I'm the main tank for my 6/8 hard mode group and figured could help other tanks looking for a new UI. The base addon is ElvUI, because why reinvent the wheel when Elv does a fantastic job on the UI. The only other addons I use are DeadlyBossMods, EavesDrop, Atlastloot, Autolog, CLCRet, CombustionHelper, CooldownAnnounce, EnsidiaFails, Omen, Postal, Power Auras, RaidAchievement, Recount and TradeForwarder.
ElvUI - Why reinvent when there's an addon that does it almost as perfect as you can get? While this covers 99% of what I need it doesn't cover everything.
Deadly Boss Mods - No matter how good you are, you're bound to have some boss mod whether it's DBM, DXE, BigWigs, KLE, etc. I'm actually debating whether or not to completely switch to BigWigs.
EavesDrop - I was using Mik Battle Scrolling Text but decided it was taking up way to much screen real estate even though the font size was extremely small and only showed incoming damage and healing, but decided to just ditch it for EavesDrop which I can just throw in the bottom of my UI and forget about it, but it's there if I actually need to see something.
Atlasloot - Who doesn't want to lookup that sexy heroic loot during down time?
Autolog - I'm the world of logs person for our raids, so it comes in handy when you forget to enable combat logging before a pull which I've done only to realize after we killed a new heroic boss and try and upload a non-existence log.
CLCRet - For those times I do have to go and DPS. Mainly only on Heroic Yor'sahj because let's face it, Blood DKs are just incredibly overpowered on that fight. I'm still not as good with Retribution as I'd like to be, but I figured being 3rd to 5th dps in a 10 man group isn't to bad for only DPSing one fight in Dragon Soul.
CombustionHelper - For my Fire mage, nothing to do with tanking.
EnsidiaFails - To prove to the raid who failed at not moving in time.
Omen - Self-explanatory.
Recount - Self-explanatory.
Postal - It really helps to just hit one button and loot hundreds of auctions at a time.
Power Auras - Used to track important buffs/debuffs I need to know.
RaidAchievement - To find out who messed up and failed to move on "Don't Stand So Close" achievement.
TradeForwarder - This is how I kept any sense of sanity while leveling archaeology even though you can't keep much sanity looking at trade chat.
Under the hood
My favorite addons are the ones you never see. Automaton was my favorite of the bunch for a long time because of all the different functions it made invisible to my gaming experience. These experiences became so commonplace and mundane that, eventually, I forgot Automaton was an addon at all and was just part of the game. On patch days, the world would tweak and certain addons just wouldn't click over. When this happened, all of those little ingrained motor-motions just didn't sync up. I needed my automation. I needed auto repair and auto sell. The world was not as pure without them.
Under the hood, your game is running its engine hot. Adding on to that piece of machinery is no doubt going to cause complications, but the amount of issues addons have when interacting with the WoW UI seems to have dropped greatly in recent years. Here's the lesson to remember about these utility-type addons that you never see: Don't get carried away. Duplicating processes, overlapping features, and general bloat will creep up on you faster, since these addons don't have a permanent screen presence. Prune early and often, and you will never have an addon problem.
As a former main tank, I understand the nature of Bryce's needs. Look at all those addons that tell people it wasn't Bryce that screwed up. Don't worry, I'm guilty of this. Actually, all main tanks have a little bit of this in them. You know what it is: "Hey, I'm doing my job." Now, we get to make sure the raid knows it.
Eavesdrop is my favorite addition to the setup and really the only one that adds a noticeable change to the way the UI looks. As a main tank, I think it's nice to see sources of damage and glimpses of numbers to make judgement calls on using cooldowns. For me, I would always look at a fake notch on my UI; whenever my health bar hit below that notch, it was time for a short cooldown. If health hit a second notch or there was a big ability coming up, a longer cooldown was used. My notch system was pretty awesome.
For Bryce, having output data for incoming damage live down at the bottom, closer to the button matrices, means a quick look at the logs can give Bryce the information he needs, versus a bit of a cluttered mess many scrolling combat texts become for the player who leaves it as-is.
Achievement Tracking Addons: Sad for FailFlake (and happy)
No, I'm not sad that this category of addon exists. Rather, I'm sad that this category of addon exists now, because back in the Sindragosa days, I built my own solution -- the Failflake. Sit down by the fire while I tell you a PowerAuras story.
Back when my old raid team was attempting to get our Reins of the Bloodbathed/Icebound Frostbroods, we had to do the Sindragosa achievement the old-fashioned way -- actually doing the achievement and not zerging her down. We needed a way to see if anyone had failed the achievement. Rather than going to download an addon and waste time, I threw together a PowerAura on my screen that was a giant snowflake. If someone failed in the group and had more stacks of Mystic Buffet than was allowed, the snowflake -- then dubbed FailFlake -- would appear on my screen, and we would call a wipe.
Well, FailFlake became our makeshift achievement tracking addon from then on out. I miss you, little FailFlake.
Elvs UI and a piece of unsolicited advice
It's no secret that I like ElvsUI and the community that is responsible for its continued growth and support. I do have a piece of unsolicited advice for the Tukui/Elvs progenitors, however. Don't put anything behind a paywall. You probably don't have anything behind a paywall right now. That's good. Don't put anything behind it. Sponsorships are good, and recouping costs on your time and effort is good, but Blizzard hates paywalls.
In fact, the notion of a paywall for something so intrinsically free baffles me at times. Not really baffling, mind you -- I was just never the person who always thought price denoted quality. Yes, there are examples where buying a more expensive product denotes a better product, but not always. Certainly not with addons. Free is key and always will be when it comes to this aspect of WoW.
Please put everything where its easy to see and download, even the beta stuff. I know, it hurts. Sell ads and rock the Google AdSense as hard as you can. But don't put anything behind a paywall. Nothing would make me more interface-sad than ElvsUI going away because of something preventable.
ElvUI is available for download from the Tukui site, along with the original Tukui, if you are so inclined.
Excellent work, Bryce. Good luck on banging out those last heroics before the new expansion.
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.