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Addon Spotlight: Buff monitoring with Weak Auras


Way, way back in the last Addon Spotlight, we talked about addons to monitor your debuffs on your target, and after a lengthy hiatus, we're back to look at buffs. Why is buff monitoring a good idea? Well, think of DoT classes. The way the game works is that when you cast a DoT, it will take a snapshot of your current situation, so, if you have a buff up that increases your intellect for a few seconds, such as a weapon enchant, then that intellect increase will be applied to your DoT. If you refresh that DoT without the intellect proc active, the second DoT will be weaker than the first. The same applies to healing, to general damage, to so many things, so monitoring your buffs is really important. Regardless of what class you play, there will be buffs you want to look out for to make the best of what you're doing.

So how do you watch them? With addons, that's how! We're going to take a look at several addons that monitor buffs, and we're going to start with the one I prefer, which is the oddly named Weak Auras. Weak Auras was originally created as an alternative to Power Auras, which, alas, has rather fallen by the wayside of late. Weak Auras is, therefore, the one to look out for. We've talked about it before here at Addon Spotlight, but Weak Auras is just so good at tracking buffs we thought it was worth dedicating an article to that specific role. Setting up Weak Auras seems daunting at first, but I promise you that this is really, really easy. You just need someone to tell you how to do it.

Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring
Above, you can see my shaman with two Weak Auras that relate to buffs in view. The icons for riptide, healing stream totem and chain heal are actually just a bartender action bar that I use to monitor the cooldowns of those three spells, the white ringed things surrounding the actual character are the weak auras. The two inner rings show that I have two stacks of Tidal Waves, while the outer one that's made of triangles indicates that I am under the influence of Heroism. Now, of course, you don't have to have pretty ring-like things indicating the presence or absence of buffs on yourself. I think the best way to illustrate just how powerful Weak Auras is for this is to walk through the process of creating a buff monitoring Weak Aura. So, let's get started.

Setting up your display

Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
Having typed /wa into chat to bring up this options panel, we need to pick what we want to show. I tend to go for progress textures for buffs, just because they're what I like, but you can also go for text, icons, or progress bars, whatever you like really. We're going to do a progress texture first, but I'll show you later how to turn it into a couple of other options. Next up, we're going to position our texture. Head into the Progress Textures section, and the terrible sun aura will appear somewhere inconvenient.
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
Whoops! That isn't a great spot for it. It's totally overlapping the two existing buffs, how tiresome. If you look over to the left-hand side of the Weak Auras panel, you can see there are tiny eyes next to the named displays, clicking those will display or un-display your other auras to aid you with positioning. Also, I have it on good authority that nobody on the planet uses that terrible sun aura. Ever. So let's grab it and drag it around, before we find something prettier to add in. You'll notice, if you're as obsessive about your UI as I am, that there are positioning sliders and numerical inputs on the Weak Auras screen to allow you to perfectly center things horizontally and vertically.
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
OK, so what you've done to get rid of the sun is clicked the "Choose" button, the left-hand one to be precise, and scrolled through the various auras available until you found one that you liked. There are various ways to modify these auras once you've picked the one you prefer, and I've chosen a Power Auras one, because my last Weak Auras column resulted in a specific question that related to them. So, just quickly, as an aside, take a look at the image. Do you see how the new aura, the one beneath the adorable shaman, has an ugly black border around it? Goodness knows why, but for some reason that is the default setting Weak Auras uses for certain displays. In order to make it all pretty, what you need to do is hit the drop-down for Blend Mode, you can see it expanded in the screenshot above, if you have good eyes. The option, by default, is "opaque" and you need to switch it to "glow". Better? Good!

You can also set the Orientation of the progress of this texture, the options are fairly self-explanatory, right-to-left, bottom-to-top, and so on. If you have a short texture in one direction, such as this one top-to-bottom, it is worth noting that the effect will likely fade before the buff is actually done. If you're planning to use a texture like our one here, it's probably worth going for a horizontal progression.
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
Look how much prettier that texture is with the glow option instead of the opaque one! Also note how it's only half-glowy, leaving a faint ghost of itself behind. That's the progress texture progressing. In order for Weak Auras to know when to pop this texture up, we need to give it something to scan for. In this instance, I'm going to set it up to look for the proc from my Jade Spirit weapon enchant. You can type whatever you like into here, but it's more likely to work if you make it a WoW spell effect.

Setting a trigger

You'll notice, if you're blessed with amazing vision or following these steps to the letter, that there are three matches for Jade Spirit, when you've typed it into Aura Name. This is fine, as long as they don't all appear on you. If the effect you're interested in tracking has two different names, and both appear on you, such as a priest Spirit Shell, then you'll need to use the actual spell IDs. These can be got easily from Wowhead, they're the numbers at the end of the links. Make sure you're getting the right one by mousing over the buff and checking the numbers tie up. Check that the unit is "Player" and the Aura Type is "Buff", and you're all but done.

Setting Load Checks

If you want it to only load up on specific players, characters, classes etc. then that's the next tab over, "Load". For example, there's not much use in loading an aura to track Inquisition on a shaman. So don't! For this particular proc tracker, I haven't put in any load options.
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
However, for these two auras, which monitor a buff called Tidal Waves which is specific to restoration shaman, I have asked Weak Auras to scan for both player class and player specialization, selecting Shaman and Restoration from the two specific drop-downs, which become available once you put a check in the checkboxes.

And for a basic progress texture, guess what, we're all done! It seems like a lot, but actually there are really only a few basic steps here. Once you've done it once or twice, it's really straightforward.

Other types of display

OK, I hear you say, this is all well and good, but I want something different to look at, that's more practical than pretty shapes. Let's take a look at those options, shall we? Let's say, for example, you think you'd like a text-based display. No problem!
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
Right click the existing aura, and then convert to, then Text. The display section where you chose your texture before will now demand that you input text, and when moused over will pop up this screen. Hopefully you can see what it says, but if not then it gives you the code to input the various things you might need to know. In this example, I've gone for %n (name of the effect), %p/%t (the remaining time over the total time), and the word test, just to show you how it works. Nothing else needs to be changed, we've already set it all up. You can also just do this instead of the texture picking from the out. And here's the result:
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
How about a progress bar? That's really straightforward, too, simply convert our text to a progress bar, and use the same text system as above to type our values into the left and right text. Want an icon? Leave it checked. Why is there a number on my lovely shiny icon? Because the "stacks" checkbox further down is still checked. Here's the result:
Addon Spotlight Buff monitoring with Weak Auras
And it's as simple as that! There are various format and view settings in there, too, but they're all very self-explanatory. Tune in next week for other methods to track buffs that aren't Weak Auras!
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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