The other thing I could have called this column was something about Weak Auras. I've had a few UIs recently which have put this very powerful addon to great use, and, as we'll discuss, Tweedlebop's is no exception.
If you would like to send in your UI, I'd be very happy to receive it, pop an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include some screenshots, a list of the addons you're using to create the visible elements, and tell me what you're happy with and unhappy with in your UI.
Tweedlebop went a step further, and sent me a link to an online gallery showing off his UI! I will be pulling down some key images and linking back to them as they become relevant, but you can see that entire gallery here.
Tweedlebop's email read as follows:
This UI is highly customized, but not nearly as difficult to set up as you might think.
Shadowed Unit Frames
Sunn Art (Viewport)
This interface features a sexy viewport layout (often seen with "the thick black bars at the bottom and/or top") This uses a pretty graphic instead of black bars. The key is to make it look stand out from the game's background, but not "be in the way". Semi-transparent graphic seemed to do the trick.
Player and Target frames are moved down to make them easier to see during combat, yet not "in the way". Combo points, shadow orbs, eclipse bar,etc... all fit nicely where the runes are. I have castbars (via Quartz, not shown) in the same general area, as well as focus and pet frames. The little black frame in the middle is my target of target, as I tank a lot and frequently need to check that information. Obviously, it doesn't need to be right there... the position simply suits me personally, as I tank a lot. In short, if that says anything other than TWEEDLEBOP as I TAB-TAB-TAB through the adds, I taunt it. Simple enough.)
As seen in the other pictures, my party/raid frames are brought down and to the left of my player frame, and the enemy frames (Boss frames, Arena Unit Frames, BG targeting addons (unit frames for nearly everything besides me and my group) are symmetrically lined up on the right side of the screen. Most of the rest is fairly self-explanatory, simply recolored standard addons to fit the color theme, etc.
Note that my the information shown on my Unit Frames is customized to my needs. (I want to know relevant info, with few frills.)
Keybinds are what suits me, but obviously you can bind all those buttons to whatever you like. Mine are mostly set up by CTRL for one bar, ALT for one bar, Function keys for one bar, etc. This is easily changed as needed by the user.
Everything else going on is via Weak Auras. I have this addons set to show "combat" status, "resting", "enemy player PVP flagged" (world only - set to not show in BGs or arena, since obviously everyone is flagged), even things like when my target is my wife (conditions checked by specific target name), I display a big red heart behind her frame.
I went through several functional but ugly attempts before I came up with this.
I'm not usually a fan of viewport UI layouts. I find it isn't really a look that works for me, transforming your screen into a letterbox just to bundle all your addons into one area of the screen. I can see the theory behind them, to get all the clutter in one place so that the rest of the screen is clear, but they look to me like they're more obtrusive and in the way than any other kind of layout, except perhaps for the traditional "I've downloaded a ton of addons but not really organized my screen" look! However, I will begrudgingly admit that Tweedlebop's looks pretty good.
I already briefly mentioned Tweedlebop's use of Weakauras, and he really is putting this very powerful addon to great use in his UI. He's not using anything particularly flashy, not a huge amount of animations or that sort of thing, but he's making really good use of the features it offers that are perhaps not heard of so much. Many players use weakauras to do things like indicate if a particular resource is full or a particular proc is available, but not so many make use of its more mundane, but still very useful features. Examples of Weakauras from Tweedlebop's UI include his kgPanel-esque panes behind the action bars, or the change from his class icon to his chosen in-combat icon on his unitframe when he's in combat. He also has simple, icon warnings set up to show when he's in blood spec, but not blood presence, as another example.
The paler color of the viewport blocks, so, the large pane at the bottom and the narrow strip at the top, does very well at not impinging too much on the view, indeed, perhaps thanks to the irregular shape of the top of the lower panel, it seems to blend well into the world. Of all the viewports I've seen, this is the one I like the best. What would have been even cooler is if Tweedlebop had set it up with Weakauras somehow, and had it change the base color to the class color! But that's probably asking a lot from my part.
Having recently got back into DK tanking after a long break, I like the rune placement a great deal. It's similar to ones we've seen before here at Reader UI of the Week, but I still like it. Rune juggling seems to be a pretty key part of the DK class, so having this UI element somewhere prominent is a must. The positioning of the target of target frame struck me as a little odd at first, but on reading how Tweedlebop uses it for tanking, I rather like it. I do much the same when I'm tanking, but with what might be a less efficient UI layout!
There's a lot of empty space in the action bars below the main one. An awful lot of empty action bar spaces, specifically, and that to me always means that a better solution would perhaps be to compact those button into fewer action bars and get rid of the extraneous ones. There's no real use, it seems, in having a lot of empty buttons on your panels. My other minor quibble with Tweedlebop's UI is the presence of the micro-menu over next to the stance bar. It's highly possible that this will disappear when he is in combat, and if so then great, no problem. However, if it doesn't, then that seems a little surplus to requirements!
Other than that, there's really very little to criticize. Apart from the ever-present weekly "Nooooo!" And this week, it goes to a panel's interaction with a UI element I've praised several times -- the chat pane and the lower viewport panel. Look how they overlap! That would drive me bonkers.
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.