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The Creamy GUI Center: Cosmos

Matthew Porter

Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.

This week I continue our look at addon compilations with a breakdown of Cosmos. Like last week's CTMod, Cosmos has been a part of the addon scene since WoW's early days and as such many comparisons between the two have been made. CTMod and Cosmos enhances the default WoW interface, but Cosmos bundles addons that stand on their own to provide an assortment of features. Does this compilation hold up to today's addon environment or is it an aging dinosaur? Let's find out!


Cosmos is another compilation that has been around since WoW's launch. Like CTMod, Cosmos enhances WoW's default UI more so than outright replacing it, with a few exceptions. Since CTMod and Cosmos are two of the oldest addon compilations many comparisons can be made, however Cosmos takes a different approach to interfacing enhancement by offering more robust options. This can be seen as a double edged sword as some user find Cosmos to be bloated.

The Cosmos Patcher and ThottBot

The Cosmos Patcher

Cosmos comes with a small program that allows several "housekeeping" options. Mac users aren't left out as the patcher comes in both PC and Mac versions. With the patcher you can select which parts of Cosmos you want to install. This is a nice feature since Cosmos tries to offer a lot of enhancements, many that may not be useful to everyone. Secondly the patcher lets you update Cosmos' components to the latest version. While one of the big selling points for using compilations is being able to update all your addons from one source, an updater program makes it just that much easier. After an initial setup, just run it and the updating is done. However, care must be made if you're using addons beyond what's bundled with Cosmos, as the patcher could accidentally delete them. Finally, one of Cosmos unique aspects is its partnership with ThottBot. Ever wonder how Thottbot got all the information for its database? Using a combination of an addon and the Cosmos patcher, a user can voluntarily choose to update information that the Thottbot addon collects as you play.

The Known Cosmos

Cosmos takes a 2 step approach with its addons. Some addons enhance the default interface, while others serve as a replacement or addition. This division is shown in the options windows. The first one you'll see is a features menu which acts sort of like an application launcher. Here you can find "standalone" addons that the Cosmos team bundled together. Here's a run down of what you'll find in the features menu. Many of these addons you can find on their own, but the Cosmos team decided to include them as part of the compilation.
  • Character viewer that lets you view the inventory and bank of all your toons.
  • Census tool that shows the current population of your server and faction (Horde or Alliance). Find out just how popular Hunters and Gnomes really are!
  • DamageMeters which shows your total damage/healing output in relation to your party or raid.
  • Divine Blessing buffing tool, used mainly for Paladins but can be tailored to other classes.
  • AtlasLoot Enhanced tells you the loot table of named mobs
  • AlphaMap which replaces the default map with a smaller and transparent alternative.
  • MobInfo2 can approximate and keep track of mobs HP as well as loot table and kill statistics.
  • Notepad provides an in game scratch pad
  • Party Quests adds extra features to sync up quest information.
  • Key Bindings provides a sortable and full featured key binding panel
  • MiniGames lets you play Tic Tac Toe, Connect 4, Orthello, Chess, and Minesweeper
All of these addons handle their tasks well, but feel a little tacked on to the Cosmos compilation. As far as my testing went, you can safely choose not to install these as the rest of Cosmos do not depend on them. Of these MiniGames, Notepad, and Party Quest seem to be the duds. MiniGames requires everyone to have the addon to play, and do you really need a minigame for when you're playing WoW? Sure there's downtime when waiting for a party or raid to start but why not just alt-tab and play a game using your PC or web browser while you wait. Party Quests shares the same problem as MiniGames where your group mates also need to be using it for it to work. Finally we have Notepad.... not much to it beyond it might being handy since you don't have to switch to an external application.

The Khaos Configuration Manager

The second options window, dubbed the "Khaos Configuration Manager", is where you'll find settings for addons that enhance the default interface. What a weird name to call an options panel. It's pretty easy to use with the addons listed on the left that when clicked display their options on the right side of the panel. The amount of options to fiddle might overwhelm someone taking their first plunge into the addon pool, but at least it's pretty straight forward and easy to use. Here's what all you can configure.
  • CastTime adds information to the default cast bar.
  • PopBar provides a floating action bar that can be oriented in a verticle or horizontal fashion with multiple columns and rows that hide or unhide if your cursor is over it
  • Chat enhancements that color names based on class, add timestamps to messages, allow to alt-click a name to invite them to a party, and let you scroll the text box with your mouse wheel.
  • ArcaneBar adds a casting bar to a players and party members name in their unit frame.
  • Combat Caller will automatically emote that you're low on health or mana
  • Combat Stats is a personal DPS meter
  • Monitor Status shows the health and mana of yourself and party members in the middle of your playing field
  • Archaeologist adds text to your unit frames showing health and mana totals and percents
  • FluidFrames allows you to move and resize windows and aspects of the default interface
  • Inventory tools that show free bag slots, your durability, and move the looting frame under your cursor for easier looting.
  • Wardrobe lets you create equipment profiles so you can for example switch from a DPS suit of gear to a Fire Resistant suit easily.
  • Map enhancements add mouse wheel zooming to the mini map and displays your X/Y location in the default map. (Note that AlphaMap is a different addon which is a total replacement for the default map.)
  • Gymnast Tooltips lets you move the tooltip window
  • Reagent Helper adds information to an items tooltip showing what classes and tradeskills use them.
  • EquipCompare automatically shows the tooltip of what your are wearing when viewing items for that slot.
  • Social Modifications allow you to attach a note to people in your friends and guild list.
Whew! thats a lot of options to play with. The weird thing is with all of these addons and settings to play with, Cosmos doesn't seem to do that much to the parts of the interface people use the most. Here in lies the root of Cosmos problems.

Cosmos is Big and Empty

Even with the assortment of enhancements and additions, Cosmos left me wanting more and yet also less. Alternatives to the default action bars and unit frames should be part of the package, while addons like AlphaMap and Divine Blessing are clunky and only take up space. It almost seems random as to which parts of the interface Cosmos wants to add to, while others feel glossed over or out dated. Compared to CTMod, Cosmos is all over the map, not knowing what it wants to be; a collection of the authors' favorite addons or an all in one enhancement to the default interface. Being able to pick and choose which addons you want to install helps, but this leads to Cosmos' final issue. Many of the addons found in Cosmos relay on "library" addons that contain functions of code that help addon authors. These addons only make other addons work, they don't provide anything to the user. If you don't install or delete one by accident then Cosmos will not work. To me this just seem to add bloat to an allready bloated compilation.

In the end I would only recommend Cosmos for people wanting more than what CTMod has to offer and want the convienance of a compilation. Other wise I would stick with choosing my own addons or try another more advanced compilation. Next week we'll look at MazzleUI, a snazzy looking compilation that offers many features all wrapped up in some eye candy. Thanks for reading!

Matthew will continue spending more time building the ultimate UI than actually playing his Mage and assorted alts in his quest for usability nirvana.

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