And yes, to anticipate comments, of course these aren't necessary and of course you can just heal with the standard raid frames or mouseover macros. These won't be for everyone!
I've been talking about addon configuration quite a bit recently, with some criticisms of a couple of addons' setup methods. Configuration is really, really important for addon use. It's what people first encounter when using them, especially with healing addons such as these that you can't really wade straight into with no setup.
Both Healbot and VuhDo do offer a standard configuration by healing class, which they now both automatically detect, but unless you're a little psychic and -- especially for priests -- don't need most of your spells, these won't get you very far. The point I'm trying to make is that configuration is necessary for both these addons in order to use them effectively. Given how similarly they work, configuration is half the battle between these two.
Healbot plays it relatively safe, sticking with a very standard WoW look, and a newly redesigned interface to closer match the WoW menu's appearance, to the extent where a long-time Healbot user like me thought they'd accidentally opened up the interface menu! The Healbot menu is largely self-explanatory, but things like "cure" are still a little confusing. The recent addition of the mousewheel section is a nice touch, and I do feel that Healbot is a touch more user-friendly for setting binds, which, after all, is a key to these addons.
VuhDo, on the other hand, have gone for a more bizarre approach with their configuration menu. When I first opened it, my reaction was, quite simply, bafflement.
It's certainly an unusual look. But, once you've recovered from the shock of its appearance, the menu is pretty easy to use. I wouldn't say it's easier or harder than Healbot's, overall, and it's a little tricky for me to be objective, given that I've used Healbot for years and VuhDo for weeks. That being said, there are some really nice features in VuhDo that are absent in Healbot, such as fully customizable icon positioning, and far more settings for visibility and different panels.
VuhDo, unfortunately, like Healbot, does hide some things away in unexpected places. I was complaining to my raid team, for example, that I'd switched on a debuff fly-in animation, and I couldn't find it under debuffs to switch it off again, as it was driving me berserk. My cohorts, one of whom used VuhDo, didn't know where it was either, but I found it in the end, and have since forgotten where it was, again.
VuhDo walks the fine line of customizability. It's incredibly customizable, far more so than Healbot, which offers easily enough options for the average raider, like me, but almost goes too far. Too far?! Is there such a thing with customizability?! Well, that depends on the person. Having made that faint criticism, I have to counter it with praise: there are many options I happened upon in VuhDo that were fantastic, and made me wonder why they weren't available in Healbot. The arrow that points you towards folk who are out of range of your heals, for example. The AoE advice that stops you firing a chain heal at an isolated player. The different panels, the grouping options.
Overall, VuhDo took me about 20-30 minutes to set up initially. I then spent an evening doing dungeons and modifying it, and was still changing settings and quietly cursing it in two raids. I deleted my profiles on Healbot for comparative purposes, and the setup was somewhat faster, 20 minutes, plus about 3 dungeons to fine-tune. But, there's much less to do in Healbot, and I'm more experienced with it. All things considered, VuhDo's setup is harder, but not much.
Once you're ready to go, how do the two compare? They're very similar indeed, allowing you to have extremely similar interfaces, which is no great surprise given that they do basically the exact same thing! I do really like VuhDo's pet panel, I think it's a superior solution to Healbot's addition of more bars to the same panel for pets. You can see it in the screenshot below. As an aside, I would highly recommend running two addons in tandem like this for testing! As you can see below, VuhDo has picked up on a debuff that Healbot missed, for example.
The size of the panes is simply set-up. There's not any reason why the two couldn't be exactly the same size. On the left is VuhDo, on the right is Healbot. Just below Healbot is VuhDo's pet panel. I would say that VuhDo seems, currently, to work better than Healbot. Healbot keeps turning itself completely white when out of combat, although it reverts when in-combat. It also seems to fail to pick up debuffs a lot of the time, as can be seen above, which is a pretty big problem. And lastly, it doesn't seem to want to put groups in the order I want them, despite the settings being in place. I also really, really like the raid role icons you see in VuhDo. Especially for Raid Finder, they're very valuable for isolating who needs heals in a tight spot.
Vuhdo does seem to have some slight, occasional issues with pointer accuracy. Several times, I swear blind I had the pointer over the tank for Earth Shield, but it was put on me. And this was pre-pull, too, so not really a pressured situation. It also gets very, very confused occasionally when people die out of range or drop group, suddenly re-ordering the panes, often mid-fight in 5-mans or Raid Finder. This can be a tad frustrating! However, Healbot does it too in Raid Finder, although less regularly in 5-mans than VuhDo.
Which is Best?
That's the big question, isnt' it? And there's not a clear-cut answer, I don't think. Healbot is a bit buggy at the moment, but it hasn't always been. VuhDo seems to have the upper hand in in-game function, and in customizability, but if you don't need to move your icons around or minutely adjust various other elements, then you don't need it. I'm giving Healbot points for their configuration menu, which, while not that great, still surpasses VuhDo's for ease of use. The arrow for out of range people in VuhDo is really great, though.
Which am I using? Well, I've gone over to VuhDo for now. And that's quite a big deal for someone who's used Healbot for years, but maybe it's a case of novelty, and when the honeymoon period expires I may go back to being a Healbot girl.
Next time, Grid+Clique joins the fray!
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