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The Creamy GUI Center: Click casting

A clean UI taking advantage of action bar alternatives
Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.

First off thank you for the feedback and encouragement I received from last week's column, I really appreciate it. I wanted to take a minute to discuss my background and the scope of The Creamy GUI Center so that people know what to expect. I'm a player of WoW just like you who happens to have a great interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs, pronounced "gooey"), particularly when it comes to games. I was born with a disfiguring disability and my curiosity in UIs grew as I became more adept at computers and gaming. I found that a customizable interface like the one found in WoW goes a long way in allowing everyone the ability to play through a tailor made experience, within the guidelines setup by Blizzard of course. While our individual challenges and goals may be different, it is my hope through this column to share the tools and addons that helped me so that your WoW experience is the best possible. While the main focus of my column is addons, I intend to cover macros, and other tools ranging from Team Speak to game pads; as well as commentary on topics affecting how we play such as the decursive nerf. However I am hardly perfect and I am just one guy, so if I left something out or miss communicated (sorry Ace guys, I now know it's not an acronym) please send me feedback. (Or if you think I'm doing a good job too!) I hope this helps you get a better understand on what to expect. I thank you for reading and WoW Insider's editors for taking a chance on me. Without further to-do let's get to today's topic, click casting!

As a continuation of last week's discussion on action bars, I'm going to take a look at a few alternatives to using traditional action bars with a review of click casting style addons such as Clique, Click2Cast, and UnitActionBars. For those of you who don't know what click casting does, it's best described using an example. Say I want to set up a click casting effect using one of my mouse buttons. First I would decide which button combination I want to use as my trigger, say shift plus middle click. Next I would pick what spell or ability to cast when I click. After this setup process, which varies from addon to addon as I describe below, you then just click a target's unit frame to do the action. Like shift plus middle click to heal a friendly unit, or alt plus right click to nuke an enemy. What differentiates these kinds of addons is how easy the setup process is, if any conditionals are allowed, and if you can bind more than just spells and abilities.

There ain't no party like a castparty cause a castparty don't stop! (At least until Blizzard says so)

Most "click casting" addons can be traced back to Danboo's Healomatic which after a few revisions became CastParty. CastParty has changed hands as its evolved and is currently being rewritten and refined for WoW 2.0 and TBC. Click Casting style addons are very popular and so a few alternatives came up on the scene including Clique, Click2Cast, and UnitActionBars. More click casting addons exist, but are designed with a narrower scope in mind such as decursing, healing, and buffing. For today's column I'm going to stick to the more general ones, saving a review of the specialized click casting addons for another day.

Clique

The Clique setup panel

Right off the bat I liked that Clique is unobtrusive by only adding its options panel where you need it, in your spellbook as an extra tab. Opening this reveals a clean options panel that contains directions on how to setup the click casting event. Clique allows conditionals such as in/out of combat and enemy/friendly targets. This is a nice Clique has many uses. feature as it allows you to save making separate key bindings for different targets. For example, middle click can do two different abilities depending on how you set your conditionals, say heal a friendly or Starfire an enemy. Setting up the ability is also easy; just click it in your spellbook with the key combination you want to use it with. A list of actions and their key bindings appears on Clique's options panel easily showing you what's been setup. You can then save your work to a profile in order to recall and modify your bindings for all your characters. Clique covers all the basic needs of a click casting mod in a user friendly package, but it doesn't stop there. For more advanced users, Clique allows you to make click casting effects that can change your action bars, execute a button on an action bar, use an item, run a macro, assist a specified unit, and even create a focus target. That's a lot of possibilities to play with, and Clique makes it easy to explore them all. Also I've yet to find a unit frame it doesn't play nicely with, so feel free to use your favorite.

Click2Cast
Click2Cast's options menu.

Click2Cast takes a more minimalistic approach to click casting. It's accessed by a minimap button or FuBar plugin that displays a list of keys to bind. Defaults include left, right, and middle mouse buttons with the ability to add modifiers to each of them like shift or Ctrl. Click2Cast's options panel is functional but lacking anything to make it unique or extra user friendly. You create the bindings by typing spell names or macro text by hand. Its click casting is limited as it can't tell if the unit frame you're clicking on is friendly or not. However this no-frills approach makes things streamlined and also conserves system resources. Click2Cast has a unique feature which allows you to bind an action to a key directly, by passing the need for action bars altogether.

UnitActionBars
UnitActionBar's setup panel

As the addon scene has matured, more and more addons are blurring the lines and offering mixed functionality. More choices are available so finding an addon that matches your specific needs is getting easier. UnitActionBars is a great example as it combines the benefits of click casting with an action bar. Like the above mentioned addons you set up a click casting event using a combination of mouse buttons and modifier keys. UnitActionBars in use Where UnitActionBars differs is an action bar pops up that you use to select the desired spell or ability. For example a Warlock could ctrl plus right click on their player frame and a bar of summonable demons appears. You then select the demon to summon and the bar fades away. This allows you to select from multiple actions per click. The downside to this is that it adds an additional click, lengthening the amount of time it takes to perform a desired action. However, if only one action is on a bar it's performed immediately. Setup wise UnitActionBars is in between Clique and Click2Cast. It has a rather bland options screen, but assigning actions is easy, simply drag and drop them onto the empty bar slots. You can put anything from your spell book onto the slots, along with items. It claims to support macros too, but that feature flaked out on me. You can adjust the size and transparency of the bars, along with a few other little tweaks. UnitActionBars works with many different unit frames, and more are being added.

Click Casting Closeout

Overall I think Clique is the most well rounded, with its easy interface, conditionals, and wide variety of effects beyond just spellbook actions. Click2Cast might be up your alley if you want a more basic click casting experience and the ability to make key bindings without the hassle of setting up action bars. For those who want a combination of click casting and action bars, UnitActionBars fits the bill nicely but adds an extra click in the process. Next week I'll be wrapping up the action button discussion with a look at group button addons. As always I look forward to your feedback, thanks for reading!

Matthew will continue spending more time building the ultimate UI than actually playing his Mage and assorted alts in his quest for usability nirvana.

Filed under: The Creamy GUI Center

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