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AddOn Spotlight: Castbars


AddOn Spotlight focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience -- the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your AddOns folder will never be the same! This week, can we dethrone Quartz as king of cast bars?

The cast bar addon/mod holds a special place in my heart, mostly because it was the last addon I got on board with. We will never really know why the cast bar was the last bastion of the WoW stock user interface for me, most likely because I was a healer, but eventually the tide turned. For a while, I let my cast bar live in my unit frames, below my health and mana, as a compact little meter that was happily minimal and out of the way. Something changed, though, and I suddenly realized I wanted a more full featured cast bar. Today, we talk about the king of cast bars, an alternative to the king (The Queen? Rival Nation of Castbaria?), a quick discussion about DoT timers and some reader mail. Let's get rockin'.

When you talk about cast bar addons, there is a clear King of Cast Bars. The king is Quartz, a modular approach to cast bars, similar to the approach of Skada, letting the player choose the particular modules loaded by the addon. Cutting down on the number of modules means you have the ability to control the CPU usage of the module and eliminate the pieces of the addon you do not need. Modular addons are good -- we like modular.

AddOn Spotlight has already discussed Quartz back in 2008, so I won't go into too much detail, as the main gist of the addon has not changed.

Over time, however, Quartz has grown a bit large and in charge. Sitting on the throne of Castbaria, Quartz may have grown a little in the waist. So, in the tradition (read: one time) of my column, I would like to make a recommendation for the basic cast bar addon user who want an alternative, not necessarily a replacement, for Quartz. I give you Castbars.

Castbars takes an interesting approach to the cast bar addon. The addon does not replace the Blizzard cast bar, but instead builds on the already ingrained cast bar coding, allowing you to manipulate its functions at a lower CPU cost. Castbars uses more native resources. Castbars comes with tweaks to the Player, Vehicle, and Pet castbars, as well as the mirror timer/bars functionality that Quartz provides. Castbars also comes standard with options for including or excluding spell icons and art, shows the pushback suffered from attacks during spellcasting, and will combine large crafting jobs into one total timer.

Some of the best Quartz features including the global cooldown spark (a quick spark over your cast bar denoting the global cooldown), latency additions to the cast bar and target and focus cast bars are standard and part of the lightweight package, rather than a separate module. The cast bar also changes color when my target gets out of range, which I personally enjoy. Castbars also has an awesome configuration mode accessible from the addon's menu. This displays all of the bars that Castbars' affects, allowing for easy movement and placement of all of the bars.

One of the features that Castbars does not do as well as Quartz is DoT timing/debuff timing. Castbars is a cast bar addon first and foremost. Many people, like a certain Death Knight friend of mine, uses Quartz to monitor diseases and cooldowns. So, if you want to de-clutter Quartz a bit, it would be prudent to disable modules that you do not need, most likely the focus cast bar.

Here's one potential issue. Because Castbars uses existing Blizzard code and resources to save on its own resources and lose a little weight, the addon acts somewhat funny if paired with another addon that hides Blizzard's own code/windows. This might seem like a huge deal, but in my experience it has not come to light. Most addons will hide just their respective doppleganger. So, for convenience's sake, I have included a link to a wonderful WoWWiki article on how to disable different parts of your default Blizzard user interface if Castbars gives you trouble. Castbars does not have as much in the way of fancy functionality as Quartz with swing timers, etc, but it does the simple cast bar job absolutely wonderfully.

So, Castbars is pretty great. So is Quartz! But now you can tinker and experience with an alternative to the king of cast bars. Play around! See what you like!

Disabling Blizzard UI Default Frames - View at [WoWWiki]

Castbars configuration is simple through the Blizzard Addon Configuration Panel, or using /castbars or /cb.

Castbars - Download at [WoWAce]
Quartz - Download at [Curse] or [WoWInterface]

ADDON MAILBAG TIME? Yaaaaay. First off, before we get to letters, I would like to thank everyone for their awesome feedback on the column, excellent and productive comments in the comment section and all of the awesome recommendations for addons. I have been incredibly happy with the responses and it really shows me that you guys love reading about addons and working your user interfaces to an awesome degree. So thank you. Now, on to the mail.

Hi Mat,

As the guy primarily focused around addons, I figure you might be best placed to answer this for me:

Why do I see so many UI's set up with the map in the bottom-center? I mean, I know why it is - less eye movement distance - but I can't remember a single fight where I've found myself with a need to look at my map...

Secatus, Saurfang-EU

Excellent question, Secatus. To be honest, I think it is just a stylistic choice. A lot of people enjoy having their user interfaces sequestered down on the lower fourth of the screen, so adding the mini-map to the bottom of the screen makes sense from a clutter point of view. Personally, it took me a LONG time to get used to having my mini-map on the bottom of the screen. I tried having it in the bottom-middle, and it was just brutal. I couldn't stand it. After moving the map to the bottom-right, things became easier. For me, it was a choice centered purely around organization, and for many UIs it is a choice for symmetry.

Hey mat, I'm a lvl 80 prot pally on haomarush and I'm doing ICC, VOA, ONY, etc... I'm just curious what addons I should use. I have tidy plates, bar tender, DBM, OMEN, and I'm curious what other ones you think I should be using. I look forward to reading your response and thanks in advance!

Thanks for the question Prot Pally! On a recent episode of the WoW Insider Podcast I answered a similar question. To be honest, you should be using the addons that make tanking easier for you. There are a few crucial ones you should always have at your disposal, however, and you've basically listed them all. As a tank you have three roles -- monitor your own threat, monitor the bosses' abilities/cooldowns and make sure the boss is in the position that he should be in. Threat you have taken care of with Omen, and the boss' abilities you have locked down with DBM. Everything else is just for the sake of your own convenience, so now just make it pretty! Bartender is a great bar mod and Tidy Plates definitely can make rifling through multiple mobs a breeze. I think you're doing fine as long as you have your threat and boss abilities under control. Sometimes more is not always better.

That's all for this week folks. Next week's AddOn Spotlight is up in the air. I have a few good ideas, but let's hear what you have to say! Want to recommend an addon for the column? Just shoot me an e-mail at

Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. Can you believe we talked about bags last time? There sure is a lot to say about bags! And remember, Addon Spotlight is fueled by viewers like you, so if you have a mod you think we should take a look at, drop us a line.

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