Reader UI of the Week: Jake's Larger UI

Mathew McCurley
M. McCurley|02.16.10

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Reader UI of the Week: Jake's Larger UI

Each week brings you a fresh look at reader submitted UIs. Have a screenshot of your UI you want to submit? Send your screenshots, along with info on what mods you're using, to

This week on Reader UI of the Week I've decided to focus on helping people in need of user interface tips for smaller screen resolutions or the need to have buttons larger, as you will see in just a short time. It's kind of like Dear Abby, except with more video games and less mouthy grandmas. The Community has been great in its response to sending in your user interfaces, so keep them coming! Without further ado, let's go a user interfacin'...

I would like to use the Reader UI of the Week column occasionally to offer advice as well as showcase some of the ideas and innovations people come up with. I also like to take a look at the community's user interfaces that present a solution to a common problem. This week is one of those weeks. Jake wrote to me with a very interesting issue. Let's see if I can help out a little.

Jake writes:

While most people like to make their UI small as possible, I need it to be big and bold as I am legally blind (I have Keratoconus, which means cornea's are cone shaped and thin.) Which is why I make sure everything that contains text is nice and bold, I play most games at 1024x768 res (including my desktop)

The Addon's that can be seen in the screen shot are:

CTmod - Download at [WoWInterface]
Bagnon - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Sexymap - Download at [Curse]
Fubar - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Gatherer - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Quartz - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Prat - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Recount - Download at [Curse]
MoneyFu - Download at [WoWInterface]
PerformanceFU - Download at [WoWInterface]
Healbot - Download at [Curse]

Thank you for the e-mail, Jake. The plethora of addons available for World of Warcraft do not favor smaller screens or scaled up UIs on the whole. As more and more addons are taking up more screen space, the less area we have to see the game itself. However, there are many tools and tips that we can discuss to help you get more of your screen back, while allowing you to keep the UI scaled up to meet your own needs.
Jake's UI looks pretty good and is scaled up appropriately for his needs, but let's throw out some general tips to see if we can help reclaim some vital screen real estate.

Tip 1: OPie

OPie is THE addon for players who want to save a lot of button space while still retaining excellent functionality at their fingertips. has previously done an entire AddOn Spotlight on OPie, but I believe it bears mentioning again. OPie is an addon that creates radial menus for player specified abilities using easily customizable rings. The player sets a button command to bring up the radial menu and then selects the ability off of the ring. OPie is excellent for buttons you do not use all the time, like summoning spells, portals and tradeskills. Creating a tradeskill OPie ring relieves you of a good amount of bar space on the sides of your user interface.
OPie - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]

Tip 2: Unnecessary Buttons and Action Bar Addons

Removing or scaling down buttons that seem important but, really, we can do without is an excellent way to save space on smaller screens or when you need your UI larger. Your bags, for instance, probably don't need to be visible, especially if you are using an all-in-one bag mod like Bagnon. The only time you would need your bag bar out is when you would like to swap bags from a bank or add larger bags to your inventory. In that case, you could use a mod like Bartender or Dominos to show the bag bar just for the times when you need the bag bar available, then hide it again. In addition, I would pair up an action bar addon with ButtonFacade. ButtonFacade allows you to reshape your buttons, giving you greater flexibility in their positioning and how they scale. Making simple squares with no borders allows you to see a larger ability button opposed to border and graphics. If your goal is to make the buttons larger for ease of sight, getting rid of the borders is an easy fix.

Bartender4 - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Dominos - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
ButtonFacade - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]

In addition, if you haven't remapped the buttons, I would remove the Menu buttons, or at least scale them down. Most of the Menu buttons are bound to keys (C: Character Info, P: Spellbook, N: Talents, Y: Achievements, O: Social, Guild and Raids, I: Dungeon Finder, etc.) so trimming the bar down in size or removing it altogether might be a good way to save some space. The only downside is not having the Help Request button.

Tip 3: Simpler Unit Frames

The default unit frames that Blizzard provides are decent for the information being conveyed but they are not customizable at all. Changing your unit frames would allow for greater customization of just the statistics you need viewable, with the added benefit of scaling up the bars so they are easier to see. I personally recommend Shadowed Unit Frames or PitBull. Both of these unit frames will remove the art from the unit frames and make it look more streamlined. You can even add in cast bars on your unit frames instead of having a separate floating cast bar. Getting rid of the portraits on the unit frames also does away with a good amount of the space requirement.

Pitbull - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]
Shadowed Unit Frames - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]

Tip 4: Quick Suggestions

Here are a few quick suggestions that can help to save space. First, if you're 80, remove your experience bar. Using an addon like Dominos will give you a floating experience bar that can be hidden easily. I'm torn on the reputation bar. I personally do not have mine up since reputation is just a keyboard click away (Pressing "U" opens reputations by default), so I usually disable it. That one is up to you. Second, integrating your cast bar onto your unit frame is a great way to save space. Most unit frame addons allow the player to do this, and it can be scaled larger just like the health and mana pools.

Hopefully some of these tips will help out people who need to allocate a little more space to make your buttons bigger, or for people having to use smaller screen size resolutions. Remember, just a little tinkering with the options in an addon can provide some excellent results.

And Finally...

First of all, I would like to say thank you to all the readers who sent me so much awesome feedback on my user interface from last week. We seem to have a really large and dedicated user interface group here, and I'd love to foster that as best I can. So please, keep sending in suggestions and tips, and especially addons you would like to see profiled as well as your UIs so we have tons of fodder for this column. Second, many people asked for a UI pack of my personal UI, which I will see about doing in the near future. Third, and finally, many people brought up an excellent concern - a user interface at rest is not indicative of the cluttered UI while in combat. Truthfully, the only difference in my UI in combat and in a raid setting is that Grid shows all of my raid members, and there is fairly unobtrusive scrolling combat text to the sides of my character. Otherwise, the user interface remains the same.

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, your source for everything addon-related.

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