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Reader UI of the Week: Dark and handsome


Welcome back to the second instalment of the new version of Reader UI of the week! Thanks so much for all your comments on last week's column, I'm doing my best to take them on board, but if there are things I'm failing at, do make suggestions! Feedback is always welcome.

This week, we're going to take a look at Synchrony's UI, which he sent in via email. If you want to do the same, please do, drop me a line by clicking the link, or send an email to with some high quality screenshots of your UI, and let me know what addons you're using, why you've gone for the layout and look that you've chosen, what you like about it, and what you are still working on. UIs are always a work in progress!

Anyhow, let's get down to business.

Synchrony's email accompanying his screenshots (which I've incorporated full-size versions of into a gallery below for your viewing pleasure) is as follows:

I've been a fan of messing with my UI since my friend introduced me to addons like Bartender back in Wrath of the Lich King. As I'm mainly a healer in-game (my main's a holy priest, but I also play a resto shaman, resto druid, and I played a holy paladin in Cataclysm; I'm also leveling a mistweaver monk--you get the idea), so I'd like to think I've developed a very healer-friendly setup.

The addons that are most important are Grid, Clique, Stuf UnitFrames, kgPanels, Chatter, Skada, PocketPlot, Satrina Buff Frames, Quartz, ForteXorcist, TidyPlates, and DBM. I also use some non-cosmetic addons like Postal, MogIt, AtlasLoot, etc. They don't always play nicely together, as you can see in the combat shot, where my target castbar has a white border. That happens occasionally, but I usually ignore it...

I've never specifically decided that I wanted a certain "look" out of my UI, but I seemed to have developed a more minimalistic one by incorporating elements I've liked in other UIs. I honestly don't even feel that my UI is one cohesive whole, though I think that may be due to my putting it together in a sort of piecemeal over time rather than sitting down and doing it all at once. Either way, I like it and it does what I need, and ultimately I'll keep working on it because eventually I'll tire of certain aspects and decide to overhaul... Such is the nature of my relationship with my UI, and I won't get sick of it!

Notable Points

I really liked Synchrony's UI. If you saw my UI last week, you can see that I'm a fan of the minimal look, and Synchrony has this by the bucketload. The repositioning of the elements works really well, and allows both a very clear, open screen, and a central focus area in the bottom center of the screen where all the good stuff takes place!

The vast majority of Synchrony's UI hides itself while he's not in combat, which makes for a very streamlined solo experience. It's good to remember that this UI is principally designed for healing, so the pleasing symmetry of the frames in the solo picture is largely uncluttered by focus frames all over the place. The target frame appears in the combat picture below the main ability bars.

I can only assume that Synchrony has a large amount of concealed bars somewhere, or that he is a very, very big fan of macros! Of course, his use of Grid and Clique for healing removes the necessity for a lot of other spells on a healer's bars, allowing Synchrony to focus his bar usage on the main class cooldowns.
Reader UI of the Week Dark and Handsome

Good Things

The UI's look is pretty uniform, particularly solo or in a non-combat group. Synchrony has done a great job of keeping his fonts uniform, with only a little of that pesky standard Blizzard font appearing! The monochrome look is also done really well, with precious few glaring bright colors ruining the muted UI, even while in combat.

I really, really, like the cooldown bar doubling up as the cast bar, and the very neat stack of elements all with the same width in the centre of the screen. It's very efficient and pleasing to the eye, but I'd be interested to see how it works with a raid, whether the higher number of party frames would make it stack too high and become an encumbrance in, for example, battlegrounds like Alterac Valley. I definitely like the lack of clutter and extraneous buttons, and the removal of almost everything from the minimap.

The player unit frame is a touch confusing, it doesn't appear that health is displayed other than in the white number to the side. The white bar appears to be mana, but given that Synchrony has a pane for every group member above his player unit frame, he doesn't really need a bar-type display for his health. His mana is the important number on that frame, and it looks great. Overall, I'm a fan!

Not-so-good things

I know, I called it bad things when talking about my own UI, but there's nothing in Synchrony's UI that could be called bad. My first observation is the Minimap Button Frame button over to the right-hand side above the minimap. It's a little red blob in an sea of pretty, clean, charcoal and black frames. While the minimal minimap looks fab, I would likely just have turned off the buttons in all the addons to achieve the same effect. Yes, it means more typing, but it's a price I'd pay!

Reader UI of the Week Dark and HandsomeI would also have preferred to see the Skada title bar -- the bit which says Healing and the three little symbols -- dropped down into the dark panel that's the backdrop for the bars. I wonder if it can be hidden altogether... And the same applies for the location information sitting above the minimap. That can definitely be incorporated into the minimap rather than floating above it.

Other than that, the target-of-target on the boss nameplate is a bit weird, but it could be that it's interacting oddly with the chat bubble, that happens a lot, with custom nameplates. And the weekly "Noooo" goes to the standard Blizzard boss frame.

Gallery: Synchrony's UI | 3 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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