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Addon Spotlight: Minimal Archaeology


Each week, WoW Insider brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which 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, we go digging for surprises.

Greetings, friends. I trust Cataclysm content has been as fun for you as it has for me? Finally having settled in, I've started to power through my trade skills and new professions. Archaeology was something I purposefully abstained from in the beta, mostly because it was the piece of new content I wanted to experience fresh. So after reaching 85 and heading off on new archaeological adventures, I was instantly hooked.

My inbox is an odd mix of awesome addon suggestions and UI submissions for Reader UI of the Week, and every so often little, pieces of perfection make their way to my heart. Minimal Archaeology takes the essence of the awesome archaeology interface and transcribes it on a simple window with simple commands.

Just the facts, ma'am

Minimal Archaeology is the simplest of addons, designed to let you quickly see how many of each type of fragment you currently have from digging. Conveniently located next to each fragment bar is a Solve button, allowing you to quickly hit Solve once the number of required fragments is reached. Minimal Archaeology is archaeology without the lore.

Now, before you light up the torches and brandish the pitchforks you have from the last time I said something stupid, Minimal Archaeology does not intend to replace the archaeology interface. Rather, the addon is a complimentary screen that is a quick way to see what types of fragments you currently have, as well as quickly solve artifacts. I use Minimal Archaeology while I'm grinding out archaeology, when I just want to quickly solve pieces rather than navigating to them. It's not a huge burden, navigating through the excellent archaeology UI -- but sometimes I prefer things at a glance, so Minimal Archaeology is a nice tool for me.

Minimal thinking

Which brings me to the real topic that I wanted to throw down at you guys and gals today -- a topic that came to me while looking for this week's addon for Addon Spotlight. There are elements of World of Warcraft that are fairly complex and others that, on their face and in practice, are simple to grasp. Addons that take the complicated UI elements out of the way of the user are, to me, inspired -- not because I don't enjoy or appreciate the default Blizzard UI, because I very much do enjoy and appreciate it, especially the new UI elements from Cataclysm. What I also appreciate, however, is that there is a market of addon creators and authors out there who understand the language Blizzard is talking and strip away the unnecessary verbage.

Minimal Archaeology is an example of an addon whose pretext is actually a lack of pretext. The whole point of the addon is to strip away the substance of archaeology and give you a number and a button, to turn the act of the profession into an information piece manageable in a different way than reading about the artifacts and their history. The Blizzard UI does this wonderfully, and it makes me long for the Tome of Knowledge from Warhammer Online that Blizzard is slowly inching toward (with great reverence from me, since the Tome of Knowledge was an incredibly inspired piece of gameplay for Warhammer Online, and it should be replicated everywhere it can be).

My point is that I'm glad that these two separate worlds can exist. I can have the numbers game and the fragments bar with a quick solve click. I can also have the lore and the explanations and pretty pictures provided for me. The freedom of choice is what makes World of Warcraft's interface so fluid and the interface design team at Blizzard so forward-thinking and praiseworthy -- we are given choice where no choice is necessary.

Download Minimal Archaeology at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].

Shall we take a question or two from the mail bag?

Hello. I am looking for a good mail managment addon. I need to send mass mail to all my guildies and would rather not do it one by one. Any help?

Gerogero, Vashj

Postal is as tried and true as they get for mail addons that give you plenty of new mail functionality.

However, mass mailings have gone extinct for the most part, since Blizzard introduced new throttling measures of the auction house and the mail system. Necramar, the manager and author of MassMailer (one of my old favorites) put it better than I could on MassMailer's WowAce page. Mass mailers are sadly dead, and hopefully Blizzard will add in some limited mass mail functionality in the future.
Everyone in the world asked:

I love the most recent Reader UI of the Week! It's SpartanUI but it doesn't take up so much screen space! How do I do that!?
Everyone asked for this. I've not had so many requests for a tutorial than I have with Quantus' UI from this week. So, in the interest of not having you all break down my door and take me hostage, I'm putting together a guide for it. Look for it soon as part of Reader UI of the Week.

The response has been amazing, which shows that the talented guys over at SpartanUI have awesome art and aesthetics on their hands and they know it, and they should totally come out with a "lite" version of the UI mod. They'd be doing me a favor, that's for damn sure.

Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. If you're new to mods, Addons 101 will walk you through the basics; see what other players are doing at Reader UI of the Week. If there's a mod you think Addon Spotlight should take a look at, email

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