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Addon Spotlight: Despite its name, WeakAuras is anything but


Each week, WoW Insider's Mathew McCurley 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.

It's a shame that it has taken me this long to talk about WeakAuras, a fantastic addon that was originally designed as a less resource-intensive alternative to PowerAuras but has become something much more. With an easier-to-use interface, in my opinion, WeakAuras is an excellent way to add information, customization, and flare to your alerts, cooldowns, buffs, and timers.

Everyone has heard of PowerAuras, right? Or have they? It's becoming quickly apparent that a lot of players are not being exposed to the grandaddy addons that we're so used to and that come up so fluidly when discussing our roles. But with Blizzard's own on-screen notification for important buffs as well as easy-to-use alternatives like NeedtoKnow and TellMeWhen, more complicated and tweakable addons are swept under the rug. Here's your chance to jump into something just a little more experienced and out of your comfort zone. I promise, it won't bite.

So what's different?

PowerAuras and WeakAuras both serve similar functions yet approach the concept from different angles. Where PowerAuras is more concerned with the tweaks and the inner workings of the displayed resource, WeakAuras concerns itself more with looking and feeling like a WoW addon. While both addons utilize a tabbed browsing approach, I feel WeakAuras' interface more resembles a guide or a wizard than PowerAuras' Home Depot approach. And don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the do-it-yourself, no-holds-barred system. However, many players prefer a simpler setup, and WeakAuras seems to provide that in some regard.

Another difference is the presentation of both addons: PowerAuras remains the Linux to WeakAuras Windows, presented in a more technical manner. WeakAuras' trigger system is, in my mind, easier to understand than the panels and titles PowerAuras uses. For basic PowerAuras, you don't need to know much, but when you hit a level higher than that, your grasp on the addon can sometimes slip.

WeakAuras has included all of the custom PowerAuras textures as well as World of Warcraft's built-in textures, Cataclysm and all. Plenty of animation presets are available, or you can make your own. You can even have chat announcements or sounds play when events happen or triggers go off, all easily configured right in the tab. The grouping system is also very nice for the novice, allowing groups of alerts and displays to be all configured at the same time for consistent behavior. I like.


Yes, bars. WeakAuras has a great bar system that allows you to pop up a progress bar that can show you exactly how long you have left on a buff or duration. As a fan of bar style of graphics, I find WeakAuras pretty solid. Just the fact that there are these options available means a tip of the cap is in order. PowerAuras was a powerful concept, and it's nice to see addon developers playing off those strengths.

Lightweight footprint

The real claim to fame of WeakAuras is its small footprint on your system. This is not a false claim -- WeakAuras runs cooler than its spiritual brother. PowerAuras has never chugged my system personally, but I have had many emails about WeakAuras changing the lives of those pained with the powerless computer. If you're concerned about memory or CPU issues, especially in raids, give WeakAuras a try over your essential PowerAuras.

The bottom line is that WeakAuras is a lightweight version of PowerAuras that has, in my opinion, an easier-to-use and more intuitive interface, especially for the more casual addon junkie. I like WeakAuras because of its philosophy of doing things more efficiently. Whether or not those features will tempt you to jump from PowerAuras, new players are living in a wonderful world of options with a great marketplace of creators looking to expand on everyones' ideas.

Download WeakAuras at [Curse].

I've got some cool ideas starting next week on Addon Spotlight that will help new players and old players alike tinker with specific areas of their UI or categories of addons. Stay tuned for that next week. Until then, how about some Addon Mailbag?

Hi Mat,

I've been using Satrina for a long time - probably the start of Wrath - and haven't seen the need to change. However a while back (around the start of Cataclysm, when Blizzard allowed you to amalgamate your long-term buffs into a single icon, I think) I stopped being able to click buffs off. I know that this issue has been around for a long time and affected a few other addons too, but I never really saw a reason to change. Overshooting a safe landing zone because I wasn't able to click Slow Fall off in time, however, has prompted this email.

Is there a fix for Satrina, or another addon that can replicate what it does (basically I'm looking for one that can provide me with the buff icon and a timer below it - nothing fancy)? I thought I'd found one on Wowinterface (SBF 3.2), but I didn't get the chance to try it out before the Curse client updated it for me!

I think Raven might be what you're looking for, Malon. There is an icon setting for buffs, lots of customization, and a great feature set. Satrina's can be a little bit of a pain, even though it's still my personal buff addon of choice because I use a bar-style layout, but Raven is ridiculously good. Check out my Addon Spotlight on Raven to see if it's what you're looking for.
Hi Mat,

Just thought I would propose another idea for a weekly or monthly article that spotlights the players top 10 addons. I know because of your addon spotlight one of my absolute favorites and would get my vote is iLvLr. I love visually seeing enchants, gems, and gear levels on the character screen without hovering and making notes on each one. Anyway something that shows what the players have found and are using out there would be great because some of us are too lazy to look for ourselves and follow what other players have found helpful.

Just a thought.

Qrystal US Silvermoon
I have totally done an Addon Spotlight on iLvLr right before the new year. iLvLr is a great addon and useful for gearing up alts and making quick decisions about gear choices. It was an addon that surprised me, I'll say.

See you guys next week!

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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