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Reader UI of the Week: Karf's 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

Another Tuesday is upon us, dear Reader UI fans. Before we get this week's user interface discussion under way, I wanted to remind everyone about submitting to Reader UI of the Week. There are three tips to a super successful submission: big images, big descriptions and big ideas! We've been getting awesome submissions, so keep them coming.

We have a very nice submission this week courtesy of Karf from the Greymane server, who sets out a very simple and back-to-basics user interface. It's light, it's minimalistic and it's utilitarian -- my three favorite things! Let's start the engines. And would someone please remind me to sing the engineering song on the podcast one week? I'm getting tired of forgetting.

Take it away, Karf.

Ello, Karf of <Rawhide Prime> on the server of Greymane here! I really enjoy seeing all the UIs from, thought I'd finally share my UI. I stopped using the default UI towards the end of The Burning Crusade. Since then I have changed my interface a number of times, but the one I'm submitting is by far my favorite. I have been using this UI set-up and design since January. Usually I run around as a discipline priest and my guild is a 10-man-only guild. My UI is optimized around those facts. One of my primary goals with my UI is simplicity without sacrificing information. When nothing is targeted and you are not in combat, every Pitbull frame fades out.

Anyway, here's a list of my addons that are not included in the labeled screen:

  • Align -- I use this to make sure all my bars and addons are evenly spaced and the like.
  • Bagon
  • Buttonfacade -- pretty buttons
  • Clique -- use this just for decursing
  • Forte -- mainly for when I go shadow, keeps track of my DoTs and how much time they have left
  • Grid -- GridManaBars, GridSideIndicators, GridStatusMTs, GridStatusRaidDebuff
  • OmniCC -- helps me track cooldowns
  • OPie -- use this for my mounts
  • PowerAuras -- I have this tell me a few things, like when I have an ooze on Rotface or when Inner Fire has fallen off.
  • RatingBuster -- quick number comparison to help me figure out if gear is an upgrade
  • Recount -- RecountGuessedAbsorbs and RecountHealAndGuessedAbsorbs; do your disc priests a favor and get these addons to Recount if you don't have them! That or use Skada. >.>
  • TinyTip -- pretties up my tip box
Any tips, comments, critiques are appreciated. :)

-- Karf

Thanks for the email and the submission, Karf. The design of Karf's UI might seem like something I would despise. Most people consider me the kind of person who hates free-floating interface elements, instead preferring the tiled and rigid formations at the bottom of the screen. That may be true in most cases, but not in Karf's case. The interface elements are spread out enough and small enough that, really, I cannot complain about the fact that they are free-floating. It works, the screen isn't cluttered with a mess of free-floaters, and everything looks genuinely neat.

Ground control to Major Tom

Floating out in space, addons seem to have no grounding. It's rough, sometimes, to look at a user interface such as Karf's and try to imagine it in motion. I talk a lot about spatial issues because they are important. Karf's user interface, however, alleviates the problem of floating addons by keeping them small and separate.

What's the problem with floating addons, though? It's an eye and texture thing. Imagine that all of your addons were free-floating boxes, large and close together, with no solid back behind them. In between each of your addons would be a small crack, a piece of transparency that gets filled in with whatever you are currently over, terrain-wise, in the game world. This area is constantly changing, and on fights with movement or quests that deal with movement, it can be disorienting. Previously, I've responded to emails that people have sent in about this very topic. The question always is, "My eyes seem to lose focus when the terrain under me changes against my addons; how can I put a solid background behind them?" One simple way is to disconnect the addons from each other and make them simpler and smaller, like Karf does.

The larger area between addons alleviates the weird eye strain issue by allowing more space to fill with the surrounding terrain. This doesn't irk your eye as much -- the larger changes don't really register as annoyances opposed to the small, fractious areas.

Zen pitbulling and the art of the Dalaran UI

By hiding every Pitbull frame when out of combat or nothing is targeted, Karf has created a masterpiece "Dalaran-UI." What is a Dalaran-UI? You'll hear about this elusive monster in the comments. What happens when your user interface is at rest? You can have the UI a cluttered mess for raiding and grouping, but while you are just questing, exploring or otherwise doing noncombat tasks, why waste the real estate? Just take a gander at the scenery.

I'm actually in the process of doing this myself -- taking an interface that is built from the ground up to be 99 percent hidden out of combat and having the UI appear only when it is needed. Pitbull is a great first step. If you have nothing targeted and really do not need to see your own pertinent information, why not just hide the frames? You save a ton of space!

A user interface at rest is, in my mind, just as important as a user interface filled to the gills with raid addons and information being spewed at the player. It takes a lot of craft and skill to make a user interface that can function in both realms at peak performance. Since both styles of UI have two completely different design ethics, making one simple user interface that achieves those goals is a true milestone. That's your homework for the comments today -- what are some tried-and-true methods of making your "raid UI" pair up with your "Dalaran UI?"

All in all, I love the UI, Karf. Good work, and thank you again for the submission. Also, I love user submissions that include a neat little legend or doctored-up screenshot showing what addons are going where. It definitely helps out the readers. See you all next week, and keep those submissions coming.

Next week, I'd love to change things up and do another "Help me!" type of article. If you are really in need of a UI makeover, let me know. We are here to help, of course.

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.

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