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Reader UI of the Week: Neutral elements and goldfish


Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

What do you get when you cross readers with UIs? Reader UI of the Week, of course. Want to show off your own interface creations? Send an email, screenshots, and anything else you'd like to, and you might see your submission right here. That's totally awesome.

This week's discussion is all about Alvala and a changing multi-spec setup that eventually had to accomodate the healer lifestyle. With a flair for keeping things neat and tidy, as well as introducing neutral elements that span each class, spec, and role for every character, Alvala has created a UI that works for pretty much anything she can think of with room to grow.

I don't want to spoil the surprise, but at the end of the article today, I talk about how much I like the little WeakAuras goldfish that Alvala has on her UI. It's pretty much one of my favorite things. Must have caught me at a good time, little goldfish.

Take it away, Alvala:

Hello Mathew!

I'm Alvala from Stormreaver-EU, and I've been following the "Reader UI of the Week" and the "Addon Spotlight" feature for months now. Seeing all those UIs has been a real inspiration to me, and made me want to mess around with my own. I'm always tweaking it, but at the moment I feel it's in a good place, and I'd like to share it and hear others' opinions on it. I'd like to mention a few of the UI's here that has had a great influence on my UI: Stormstrong (centering the raid unit frames between player and target), Curokk (height differences at the bottom to the sides), Scalion (making room for ExtraActionButton1 and Action Bars, and DBM bars) and Mnemonics (brilliantly simple, solid WeakAura for tracking HolyPower). My UI is not a compilation, I made it myself, but without this blog, I would have been lost and confused. So thank you for sharing all your amazing UIs with me!

I started changing my UI while I raided Firelands on my Arcane Mage. I switched main and role during DS to Holy Paladin, with Retribution off-spec. I'd managed to make a UI that fit my dps class very well, but as a healer it just felt inefficient and... wrong. But since I got a dps off-spec, and still play my mage, my UI had to fit both being a healer and dps. I like minimalism, but I also like a bit of flash and fun. I guess if I had to try to describe my UI in three words, it'd be: Bottom-heavy, symmetric, clean.

My list of addons:
- Bartender4, I love buttons. I don't have everything keybound, so visibility and placement is key.
- SexyMap, default map is ugly and awkward. I don't use minimap buttons, so they're all hidden.
- MonkeyClock, because the map clock is ugly and I like my clock outside the map.
- Chatter, provides a much cleaner looking chat window, with lots of great extra features like copy text, auto-copy links, auto-invite, etc.
- Pitbull Unit Frames 4.0, the default unit frames are ugly. I use the default Blizzard Raid Frames though, more about those below!
- HideRaidFrame, because I'm very annoyed by the Raid Manager. It's ulgy and badly placed.
- kgPanels, for bottom backgrounds, keeps things visually seperated.
- Raven, I've only just started using this, and I haven't fully explored all of the features yet. I just like the clean look of my buffs/debuffs.
- Quartz, because it shows latency on my castbar, and time left when smelting or crafting stuff.
- Masque, because the default borders in Raven weren't to my liking. Now my buffs/debuffs and actionbars look alike.
- MoveAnything, I absolutely love this addon. Lifesaver, lets me hide or move anything!
- KongUI Hider, I love using this for hiding/showing things in and out of combat, or with mouse-over.
- TidyPlates, mostly for when I dps. I have a bad habit of clicking mobs, this helps a lot.
- WeakAuras, better than PowerAuras, I'd hate playing without this addon, it is sooo helpful.
- Recount, use it to track Damage done, even when I heal. If someone dies during combat, I like to know if they're worth combat ressing (not me, but calling it out if I'm leading a raid). Also I check healing done between fights.
- bXp bar, I hate the default XP/Rep bar, so big and ugly, and hard to place elsewhere in a UI because of the artwork that just won't go away. This little addon is configured in LUA, and I changed the font to Arial Narrow. When I lvl it shows Experience, and at 85 it shows Reputation. Beautiful!

Not visible addons: AdvancedIconSelector, BadBoy Anti Spam and CCleaner, eAlign, IgnoreNotes, iLvLr, LoadIT, Postal and TomTom. Also Spellstealer and CombustionHelper on my mage.

I don't use Grid or VuhDo or anything like that. I use the default Blizzard Raid Frames, and I love them. I don't use Decursive anymore, because I've now gotten used to watching debuffs on the default frames, and made a mouseover Cleanse macro. I also use mouseover macros for all my healing abilities. Class colours helps me keep track of melee and ranged players on Hagara, where we split up in groups during the Ice Phase, and helps me keep track of peoples cooldowns and buff abilities in dungeons. Power bars help me see how much mana my co-healers have. They basically show all I need to know, without having to install tons of modules or worry about updates and patches. Because I have hidden the Raid Manager, I've set up different raid unit profiles for when I heal or dps, so I don't have to move them around manually. They move out to the side automatically when I enter dungeons or raids, depending on my active spec. I like to keep them visible at all times, so I can see if anybody dies and we're wiping or what else is going on.
The most annoying thing about using the default raid frames though, is that in LFR, they crap out when people leave/join during combat. But it's only a problem in LFR, so to hell with that, it's fixed with a /reload.

I'm in love with WeakAuras. Most notably, I use it to track my Holy Power on my paladin, and Arcane Blast stacks or Living Bomb on my mage, various procs and cooldowns... I prefer intuitional visual and audio cues, sometimes icons, although bars are nice when it comes to DoTs and HoTs. I still haven't fully explored all the interesting features here! Plus it makes sure I never forget a Food Buff or a Flask!
Also, my UI wouldn't work without MoveAnything. I can't stress enough how big a relief it is to be able to, yeah, move anything! Durability figure clipping with the map? Moved. Tooltip box in the way? Moved. Quest tracker? Moved. Also, it can be used to resize everything, or hide anything. My Boss Health Frames kept bugging out, because I wanted to use the DBM ones instead of default. So I simply moved them outside the screen. I do feel bad knowing they're hovering out there somewhere, but oh well.

What do I like the most about my UI? Of course I like all of it, but I especially like the way I've set up the lower right corner, with the map and the extra action buttons. It's compact but now crowded. I also like how the space to the sides of my center action bars is empty out of combat, but is utilized during combat (left area is Recount, right area is DBM timers, and Food buff/Flask auras OOC).

What a long mail, and I'm sure I've forgotten something! I'll be sure to keep an eye out in the comments if this gets posted. ;)

Best regards, Alvala
Thank you so much for the email and submission, Alvala. You're right -- that was a long email. Your insight, however, is invaluable for discussion your setup. Let's get to it.

Default raid frames come recommended?

A day I had not anticipated for some time is coming true at an alarming rate. With just a few small tweaks that will definitely be coming with the popularity of the Raid Finder, the default Blizzard raid frames will come recommended by me and my addon ilk. Players now are using the Blizzard frames by choice, and for the most part, they are as solid as they come. While not the most feature-rich frames out there, what comes with the basics is good enough for what Blizzard intends the casual player to use, and that's a good thing.

Mouseover macros make good UIs great. Alvala knows this and built the healing portion of the UI around the use of mouseovers. If you've never used a mouseover macro, let me break down the basics for you: target=mouseover lets you cast spells based on the character your cursor is currently hovering over rather than your actual target. Mouseover macros are one of the cornerstones of the Vuhdo/Grid/default frames addon genre and can greatly enhance your play experience.

There are two ways you can go about making simple mouseover macros. First, you can bind the spell to your action bar as a macro such as

/cast [target=mouseover] Intervene

This macro, when pressed on my action bar, will attempt to Intervene whatever target my mouse is currently over. This mouseover also applies to unit and raid frames, allowing you to hover your mouse over the target to be dispelled or healed and press a button to do an action on them.

The second albeit a bit more complicated way to make mouseover macros is using something like:

/cast [target=mouseover,help] Holy Light; [help] Holy Light; Holy Light

This type of mouseover macro works in a different way, allowing three spells to be chosen or cast based on different parameters. What this macro is saying is if I have a mouseover target that is a friendly ally ("help"), when I press the button, it will be Holy Light. If I have just a target that is an ally, it will also cast Holy Light. Finally, if I have no target or a mouseover target, the button will still just cast Holy Light on whichever is the default "no target" target, usually yourself.

See if you can make some nifty mouseover macros for your new healing UI and get the most out of your Blizzard raid frames.

Vertical raid frames

Please explain to me the appeal of the vertical raid frames. Don't they accomplish the same as horizontal raid frames but dip too much into the middle of the screen? It's not bad-looking, mind you, I'm just trapped in my own, well, trappings about vertical raid layouts.

So, like any sane person does, I moved my mouse over the healing layout on Alvala's screenshots and started to pretend-heal like I used to do in the grim, dark, dire days of eight group windows to deal with. Then I made the same healing motions for a horizontal layout. The back-and-forth motions of the vertical layout versus the up-to-down motions for the horizontal actually felt a little easier to pull off at a quicker pace. Do I have to go in and retry some healing with a vertical layout? I might have just scared myself.

The bottom right is really cool

Alvala should be proud of the work done in the bottom right corner of the screen. What I like about the setup (and probably what I'm going to steal from it) is that it is role and class independent of the rest of the user interface. This particular piece of the UI will never change and can stay static across every character, allowing some semblance of connection throughout. Plus, the functions served by the bottom right are not necessary -- every other piece of the UI is tailored for the class and role, while the corner stays functionally neutral yet still powerful.

I love the goldfish

Like, seriously. Maybe it's the position of planets in the cosmos, but whatever that goldfish is doing there, I'm on board. He looks so happy to be swimming around the bottom bar, happily alerting to some proc or cooldown. I love you, little goldfish.

From what I gathered from the email, Alvala uses the fish to let her know that she needs to eat a Fish Feast -- which, if true, will be going into my UI as soon as humanly possible. In fact, can someone just write me a stand-alone addon called Adorable Fish that puts a fish on your screen somewhere when you don't have a Fish Feast buff or equivalent?

Adorable little fish.

Wrapping up

With just enough neutral pieces to last from character to character, an adorable little fish, and a neat setup that allows for competent spec play in all regards, Alvala has created something nice and workable. I'll have to try out a different approach the next time that I heal a Raid Finder -- oh, that's right, it's a giant square. Maybe it would help if I turned the square vertical? Oh, boy.

Don't forget: Mouseover macros are good. Try them. Love them. Especially you, warriors.

Thank you again for the submission, Alvala. If you'd like to have your UI potentially spotlighted on the column, send screenshots and submissions to

Gallery: Reader UI of the Week gallery | 267 Photos

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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