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Reader UI of the Week: Light and shadow


Last week we featured a very different UI from Bull, which he had largely created from scratch with his considerable programming knowledge, and cunning use of custom textures from the game. One thing that was notable about Bull's UI was how it functioned well across several different characters. Bull, it seemed, was playing the same role over several characters, being DPS, and this week we're looking at a UI that has to perform a somewhat harder task.

Nesavare is a priest on Jubei'Thos, and plays both as holy and shadow. While Nesavare's UI only needs to function (for the purposes of this column) for one character, the different demands of a healer and a DPS are difficult indeed to cater for with a uniform UI. And Nesavare makes a good stab at it, using ElvUI as a base, along with several additions, but as always, there's room for improvement! Nesavare sent over several screenshots, out of combat, raid healing, group DPS, and a test mode screenshot, showing off all his weakauras.

Let's dive straight in with Nesavare's email. As ever, I've had to whack it down a bit with the editing stick!

Hi, I'd just like to share my UI for my Priest if possible.

It's based off ElvUI, I love how nice it looks out of the box, but it needed some changes because a lot of things I couldn't customise the way I liked, and I don't have the time to learn Lua at all. So I replaced/added the following addons.

Unit frames - Pitbull
Cast bar - Quartz
Raid frames - Grid
Custom panels - kgPanels
Action bars - Dominos + Masque + OmniCC
Dot timers - ForteXorcist
Threat/Damage - Omen/Recount
Aura/cooldown tracking - WeakAuras
Combat Text - MSBT
TomTom for a questing arrow
HaloPro - Halo/divine star range checker

I really like the over-all layout, with the click-bar right there and big for important things like potions/buffs, with a big cast bar too so I can clip the latency.

I'm happy with the WeakAuras. They've really helped me make sure I don't miss anything important for either spec. I know they are big and in my face a bit, but thats the point i think, I want to get them off the screen as quick as possible, at least when shadow, the holy ones are more informative/a reminder than anything as holy has a very fluid "do whatever is best for this situation" play style.

I also like how the forteXorcist / dbm timers are laid out, coming up from the current target / my unit frame and how fx is grouped like it is with the non-selected targets being more transparent. I don't look at it at all when healing though except when seeing how long renew has left when in Chakra:Serenity so I should probably figure out a way to only show that for then.

I'm not happy with lots of things though, I always have too many action bars, but I like to move things like quest items or seeds to buttons when doing that kinda stuff and have access to things like the puntable marmot / beer kegs all the time, so I'm honestly not sure what to do there. I also have a shocking memory and having all my keybind's laid out all the time really helps, but I know it's getting in the way and is taking my focus when it shouldn't be.

Also when healing Grid is wayyyy too far left because I essentially stare at it all the time and just gaze to the right when I need to. I need to find somewhere better for it, but for that I'm afraid I'll have to redesign the ui entirely and have them truly centralised, I can't think of a better place to put them.

Notable points

Nesavare, I think, has not only done a pretty good job in putting together a UI that covers both bases of shadow and holy, but also done a pretty good job of defining what's good and what's imperfect in his own UI. I totally agree with his observations about ElvUI, if you remember it's the UI I use, and my observations are much the same. It's a great start point for UI design, it's well-made, and minimal, and as long as you're not a hater of square things, it's pretty! But it really lacks customization options for certain elements, a prime example of which being the action bars. It offers a tad more than the standard Blizzard UI, but really not much, and particularly if, like me, you went to ElvUI after playing with an addon like Bartender4 or Dominos, you'll most likely really miss the action bar customization.

Good things

I really like the overall look of the UI. I do feel it's becoming too cluttered in that key area where the action takes place, but I'll get to that later. Nesavare has done an excellent job of getting his Dominos action bars to tie in with ElvUI's basic look, with the dark background and relatively heavy black borders. I also think he's done an excellent job with his weak auras, I'd love to see a bit more explanation of what each one does, so that we can see what's going on on his screen a bit more clearly, and perhaps get some export strings if they're applicable! If you look very closely at the test image, you can see a little information on what the visible auras are doing, my favorites are the adapted version of the instant mind blast buff and the Mindbender reminder. I need one of those myself!

I also like the debuff bars on the target, I've long thought that bars like those are the best way to follow debuffs, everyone's different, but for me that works the best. I do wonder, though, whethere Nesavare is aware that ElvUI's aura bars can do these too, looking pretty much exactly the same as ForteXorcist but without the need for another addon!

Lastly, while, as we'll see, I'm not blown away by what's in it, I really do like the extra set of buttons in the panel with the overlapping player and target unit frames, and the castbar below.

Not-so-good things

I've already hinted at one thing that I'm not a huge fan of, and that's the spells that Nesavare has chosen for that extra panel. For me, the spells that merit inclusion in such a prominent position are some of the ones he has there, such as the Mindbender, healthstones and potions, and major cooldowns like Void Shift. But I'm not so sure about things like Resurrection that can only be cast out of combat, and the priest stamina buff, Power Word: Fortitude. On my priest, those hang out in a hidden bar over to the side, because, unless someone's died, I won't need to be casting them. Inner Focus and Inner Will are interesting choices too, I don't pretend to be a great priest, and I've never played holy, so maybe there's more dancing between the two than I imagine.

Continuing with action bars, I totally agree with Nesavare's observation that his are not perfect. They're a bit gappy, and have a lot of un-necessary things on them. I'm prescribing a few steps to fix this.
  1. Set up two vertical action bars on the left-hand side of the screen.
  2. Drag everything that you can't use in combat, except farming things, over to them. Remove farming things altogether.
  3. Get Farmhand.
  4. Make those two action bars auto-hide without mouseover, or in combat.
  5. Rearrange the existing ones!
Sadly, one thing that Nesavare likes is one that I don't -- ForteXorcist's bars! They extend far too far up into the screen, and I feel like they're showing some un-necessary additional information, such as Inner Will. Again, this could be a play-style thing, but I definitely feel like they could be either optimized or moved.

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