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Reader UI of the Week: The UI Doctor returns


A couple of weeks back, the UI doctor stopped in to help a user by the name of Luthuvien. After that column, there's been quite a few requests for assistance, so the doctor is returning for today. Just like last time, please do let us know of any ideas you might have to help the submitters out -- last time the commenters were fantastically helpful with addon suggestions and the like, so let's do the same this time! As ever, UI modification is hugely subjective, it's all based on opinion, and mine is no more weighty than anyone else's.

Khaldrogo writes:
I play a human retribution paladin on the US realm, Azuremyst. His name is Khäldrogo. I'm trying to find the perfect UI, one that is most efficient for a dps for raiding, and has room to improve if I wanted to tank or heal. I like things being very lightweight, non-cpu heavy. But I also love looking at the game's art, so I don't want something that takes over the whole screen. I loved Carbonite's look for the quests on the UI, but I didn't like the Carbonite map. Any way to just have the look for the UI? I've tried xperl, but I didn't like it. I am currently using LUI, but it's very buggy at the moment. I've included the list of addons I use. I'm open to any suggestions.

Khaldrogo's addon list included a lot of the usual suspects:

NPC Scan
Addon Control Panel
Deadly Boss Mods
LUI Core
Masque: Daron
Omen Threat Meter

He also included two screenshots: in combat with a target dummy, and solo.

Now, first things first, the perfect UI is a tall order indeed! I honestly don't think there's any such thing as one perfect UI. Partly, that's because it's such an individual, subjective thing. Something that one person loves, another might hate!

Anyhow, let's get down to business. The first thing I want to know is whether you're using the right version of LUI. The reason I ask is that you specifically list LUI Core, which makes me wonder whether you've grabbed just that one, or whether you've also obtained the full version from WoW Interface? It seems that new installs need to use this full version, rather than just the one available from Curse. There's also a standalone website for the addon, which has support forums, so if you've got specific bugs, do report them. But, going forward, let's assume you've got the right version of LUI, and it's still buggy. There do seem to be a few nagging issues on the forums, but the developers are at least working on it.

As readers of one of my other columns, Addon Spotlight, will be aware, I'm not a huge fan of Carbonite, thanks in part to its rather heavy memory usage and clunky interface. However, it's now being updated by a new developer, so things may change, but I would still say that it doesn't really fit in with the request for lightweight addons.

A UI replacement replacement

What's the way forward, then? Seeing as Khaldrogo is already using full UI replacements, I personally think that something worth trying is ElvUI, or its older brother Tukui. What's the difference between the two? Well, Tukui is both more lightweight and less easily customized, while ElvUI is a bigger memory hog, but far easier to customize. ElvUI is, in my opinion at least, less minimal than Tukui in appearance. I can actually show you some (rather small) comparative shots of my own UI to show off what I mean:
Reader UI of the Week The UI Doctor returns
This is Tukui, with bartender bars, and a fair amount of my own modification in the .lua code, to make it more minimal. It's fairly lightweight, certainly using less than Auctionator, for example, and I think it's quite pretty, and doesn't impinge too much on the art. The party frames are where they are and the size they are because I heal on the character this screenshot comes from.
Reader UI of the Week The UI Doctor returns
And this, on the same character, is ElvUI. There's really very little in the way of difference, overall, the two bars on the right are absent from the Tukui shot because that was taken in Cataclysm, when shaman still had totem bars rather than individual totems. There are also more icons surrounding the map in ElvUI, and the Aura Bars on the unit frame which serve as personal buff timers as well as debuff tracking timers.

Why am I suggesting these two replacements? Well, in part, because they would allow Khaldrogo to remove a few addons from the list he sends in above. For example, both will automatically sell your greys, and repair your items, both reskin the questing panel, unlike LUI, although I realize that Wholly and Grail do more than just reskinning. What's more, if you like the standard ElvUI or Tukui action bars, you can get rid of Bartender and Masque, too. I don't, so I still use them!
Replacing UI replacements

This is a tricky thing to do. Once you've had a UI replacement or two, I for one find it hard to go back to individual addons. Especially when the replacements work as well as ElvUI. But the upside is that you can have several very customizable tools -- it's rare indeed that a UI replacement offers ans much choice in, say, Unit Frames, as something like Shadowed Unit Frames.

Having recommended repairing the existing UI replacement install, and followed up with two more replacement UIs, I feel like it's time to discuss some alternatives, but the scary thing is that it's a complete UI rebuild. So, let's start with the basics. You're already using Bartender, so that's a good start, and given that you like what I call the semi-sci-fi look of the LUI interface, perhaps IceHUD is worth a try. You've got Wholly and Grail for the quest tracker, and you can actually get various skinning addons that don't require a full UI replacement to work, Skinner is a good place to start. For maps, Mapster is a great little addon. It allows you to use these super-minimal maps that only show the zone you're in, not the other zones, and the background, and the box, and so on. Or, if you don't want to use that, you don't have to!

For unit frames, I'd say Shadowed is the best place to start, if you don't care for IceHUD. They have a default setup that works, and is highly customizable, and working with their relatively simple user interface can be a good way to prepare yourself for the vagaries of more complex addons performing the same role. For chat panes, Prat is back, as is Chatter, after both had slow starts at the beginning of Mists. And for nameplates, TidyPlates is another great place to start, simple, functional, has everything you need. It's a big task, though, so take a day when you have nothing else to do to take it on!

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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