Carbonite. Carbonite, Carbonite, Carbonite. It's the addon that will not leave my inbox alone! The hugely popular and, just plain huge addon suffered a bit of a rocky period around the beginning of Mists of Pandaria. An update from the developers did not seem to be forthcoming, so a fan named Rythal took it upon himself to create a fan update for the popular multipurpose beast. The developers then reappeared, apparently less than impressed with Rythal's efforts, and launched their own update. Rythal politely bowed out of the official Carbonite threads and forums, and set up shop on his own site, where he continued to post unofficial updates.
Then, a while back in late September/early October, the original developers and owners of Carbonite decided that they really didn't have time to maintain this behemoth of an addon. The discussion began about the possibility of making Carbonite Open Source, meaning that Rythal could officially release his patches, and that he and others could push ahead with modularizing, updating, and generally improving Carbonite.
While the developers had been busy, Rythal had created an addon called RUMA, which basically did exactly what Carbonite did, but with more regular updates. RUMA went straight into 5.0.5 compatibility, including scenario support, challenge mode support, Mists quests, you name it. And, not long after that, the original developers went through with the Open Source change.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you all to know what went on, and I want to share the Carbonite happy ending, following our previous updates on the situation with this hugely popular addon. If you head over to Carbonite's homepage on WoWInterface, the author is now Rythal. It's taken him a while, because he basically had to start again, and reapply all his fixes that brought the old version of Carbonite up to date to the developers' new version, but in late October, the most recent iteration of Carbonite appeared.
Rythal continues to make regular updates, and, given the number of emails I'm getting asking about Carbonite, there is certainly an ongoing and high demand for this addon! If you're having any Carbonite issues, drop Rythal a line over at the official Carbonite forums on WoWInterface. I'm afraid I don't have a similarly happy story for much-beloved mapping addon Cartographer. Rythal did say a while back, however, that he was looking to create something that drew elements from Cartographer. Watch this space!
I've never been a huge Carbonite fan. It's such an unwieldy addon which attempts to do far too much at once, and is a really bad memory hog. I sincerely hope that Rythal will be able to update and improve it, but until then, let's look at some alternatives.
I've spoken about TomTom in passing a few times in the past, but not really given it a thorough inspection and write-up. And frankly, that's a bit unfair. TomTom is such a fantastic addon. It's often only mentioned in passing just because it's so darn good. It does, as we say here, exactly what it says on the tin.
TomTom provides a "Crazy Taxi style" arrow on your screen, pointing you towards your destination. Your destination is set by you, by placing a waypoint on your map with a click, or by setting a waypoint through chat commands. All the chat commands can be found on the TomTom site, but they can allow you to set a way point at a particular co-ordinate set, in your own zone, or any other, provided you can spell it right! Waypoints can have descriptions, so you remember why you were heading there! Once you've got a waypoint, the TomTom arrow can point you there, giving you a flight time and in-game distance measurement. And if, like me, you set yourself flying then alt-tab, it'll make a noise when you arrive overhead your destination. Do make sure you enable WoW sounds in the background via the system menu, so that your character doesn't die of fatigue while you're waiting for the ping!
The really fantastic thing about TomTom is how well it integrates with other addons. Last week's Addon Spotlight discussed Archaeology addons, including the ever-popular Archaeology Assistant, a.k.a. Archy. This is a fine example of an addon incorporating TomTom, and one of many. If you're after Carbonite-style questing assistance, without the Carbonite bloat, then WoWPro is a great choice, again reliant on TomTom for its navigation component. TomTom will, however, automatically point you in the direction of waypoints gathered from quest data within your log, if you set it up to do so. This does override your own waypoints, though!
The list of addons which rely on or use TomTom is too long to be reproduced here!
Atlas has been around for almost as long as Carbonite... I stopped really using it during Cataclysm, when instance maps became part of Blizzard's domain, but I've recently looked back into it, for the additional navigational help it provides. For players who haven't done a lot of Mists instances yet, it's pretty handy for finding your way around.
A special note is required for the installation of Atlas. While most addons simply require the user to replace the folder in their Interface/Addons directory, Atlas' creators specifically request that players remove all traces of prior Atlas installations before reinstalling. They must have their reasons, so I suggest you do!
Additionally, downloading the base Atlas addon from the big sites such as WoWInterface, WoWAce or Curse will likely not give you the various modules Atlas needs in order to work. You'll also need to grab all the various modules, which can be found on Atlas' own website, with links to download then from Curse and WoW Interface. Curse Client users can sort by author, Arith is the creator listed on all these modules.
Due to complaints about the size of the addon, it was made modular in order to reduce memory usage. So, users can pick and choose the elements of Atlas they want to use and the elements they want to disable.
Atlas' downloadable modules, as can just be seen from the list to the left, include far more than just dungeons and raids. They've also got battlegrounds, scenarios, and an element I never knew existed before: Transportation. This module is really exciting, for me anyway, as it shows all the ways of getting around above ground, using flight paths, boats, zeppelins and portals. With the buff to Flight Path speed replacing Have Group Will Travel, flight paths are sometimes the most efficient way to get to places, and Atlas_Transportation shows them all, and how they link together, as well as how they interlink with other non-mount transportation.
Of course, Atlas still has its long-standing instance maps. They offer far more than just the basic layout of the instance, by detailing the key locations within the instances. For example, they show the entrance, the exit, and the locations of all the bosses. For instances across multiple floors, or with multiple rooms, which Blizzard's maps never really dealt with that well, Atlas provides a vastly improved experience. For applicable dungeons, Atlas will also show the start and end points of quest chains. A fine example of Atlas doing all this, with it all fitting on one page, was Dire Maul. While not anywhere near as bad as Blackrock Depths for low-level pugs, it can be confusing, especially pursuing Pusillin the Thief if you lose him early on. There are a few different zones, separately mapped by Blizzard, but Atlas makes a good stab at them.
And, like TomTom, Atlas has other modules. If you look at the map of Dire Maul East above, you can hopefully make out silver coins to the right-hand side of the right-hand pane. Clicking on those opens the loot table for each boss, the trash, and the books within the instance. This also requires a separate module, AtlasLoot Enhanced, which is probably the most comprehensive loot addon out there. It shows you loot from pretty much every conceiveable source, as long as it's an instance. While this won't help you with quest drops, it's a great tool for end-game gearing!
There's just room for three in this article, but do share your mapping and navigation addons!
Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. If you're new to mods, Addons 101 will walk you through the basics; see what other players are doing at Reader UI of the Week. If there's a mod you think Addon Spotlight should take a look at, email firstname.lastname@example.org.