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.
Welcome folks to this week's The Creamy GUI Center. This week I tackle one of the great suggestions left by you the reader in the comment's section. We're gunna examine bag replacements and inventory managers in a special two part series. This week we'll see how to organize your inventory with bag replacement addons. And in the following week we'll look at which addons help you change gear around for different situations. But let's not put the cart ahead of the horse, first we have to organize all that equipment, so let's get to it!
It just dawned on me the other day that no matter how uber or bad ass your character is, you still carry around all your possessions like a poor homeless person (excluding items in the bank of course). Most Azeroth citizens carry around every such sort of treasured items with them, and many of us still go by that old Boy Scout motto, "always be prepared," which means some items we tote around will only be used once or twice per adventure. So the question arises, how do you organize all this stuff, and how do you find that one particular item you're looking for among all your stuff? Well that's where bag addons come into play. Let's face it, unless you carry the bare minimum, the default bags can get jumbled and disorganized quickly. So let's take a look at three addons that can help us out. Most of these addons all do the same thing, organize your stuff, but each go about doing that differently. Hopefully you'll find one that suits your style the best.
First up on the list is Baud Manifest. This addon is feature packed, allowing you to organize your stuff in two different ways. Baud Manfest uses one window to show what's inside your bags, using a list view of your items. The items are identified by their name mainly, but you can show a small icon of the item in the list as well. The list window is completely movable, scalable, and you can change the size and background color too. If the list of items is lengthy you can see everything easily by scrolling with your mouse wheel. Freshly installed, Baud Manifest allows you to sort the list with predefined filters, such as weapon, armor, trade goods, comsumables, and more. You can then further sort the list of filtered items alphabetically, by rarity, type, and slot. But if that's not to your liking you can instead opt to use a categories view instead. When organizing by category the list of items change into a list of categories which sort of act as a header for the items. When the categories are clicked, the items with-in appear in a list. You can let Baud Manifest create default categories, but it also gives you the freedom of creating your own. Just drag and drop the items you want shown onto the category you created and that item will always show up in it until you change it. The downside is you have to choose between the categories view or using the filters view. The category headers are only shown when no filters or sorting options are selected. If all these filters and categories bog you down, Baud Manifest does have a search box at the bottom of the list window, allowing you to type in the item you're looking for. Another feature I really like is how flexible Baud Manifest is when it comes to how it integrates into your default bags. You can have it totally replace the original bags so that when clicked on the Baud Manifest window is shown instead of the default bags, but only if you want it to. You can also choose for it to show itself at the bank, mailbox, and auction house, but again only if you want it to. Finally, you can have Baud Manifest show you your bank's contents when away from it, and also your alt's inventory. Well that just about covers Baud Manifest, it's really a good and flexible bag addon, with its only downside being its single list view style, and the fact you can't use categories and filters at the same time.
Combuctor is the next bag replacement addon I tried. It shares a lot of features with Baud Manifest, like categories and filters, but its look and feel is completely different. Combuctor takes the "one giant bag" approach in the same vein as the now defunct One Bag. If you prefer a grid of icons instead of Baud Manifest's list view, then Combuctor might just be what you're looking for. On the right hand side of the window are category tabs, which at first glance might seem too broad to be helpful. But then I noticed additional tabs on the bottom side of the window which act as filters that narrow down what items display. So for instance you might click the "equipment" tab, then the "weapon" filter. And as a final layer of sorting, little bubbles colored to represent the item's rarity can be clicked to further narrow down your search. Describing how Combuctor works might make it sound a little convoluted, but in action it's a really easy process to narrow down and find what you want. Other features include a browser for your alt's inventory and your bank.
Combuctor's short comings are few, but range from minor annoyances to potential show stoppers. Right off the bat I noticed the main window is only movable while holding down the ALT key. A minor annoyance, but still an annoyance. Next, Combuctor completely takes over the default bags, so there's no easy way to bring up the original bags if you so wanted. But the largest problem, as of right now you can't create your own filters, which is a real shame because I feel that's a key feature to modern bag addons. However, the author did mention that Combuctor is still considered in beta testing and isn't feature complete. In fact, Combuctor's author also made Bagnon, which it barrows a lot from. While the author didn't explicitly say so, I feel he's building Combuctor to be Bagnon's successor. When I tried Combuctor out, it felt rock solid and I encountered no bugs, so hopefully the author can add a few more features and take it out of its beta status.
Our last addon this week is Baggins, and boy howdy what a closing act. I think it's safe to say that Baggins is the most complicated addon of the three featured in today's article. Don't let that scare you though, as while it does have a lot of features, setting things up was a reasonably straight forward affair. Baggins looks a lot like the normal bags, a small grid window of icons you're used to, but each window is a virtual bag that you've set up using filters to show exactly the type of item you want. So instead of Baud Manifest's list style view, or Combuctor's one giant bag view that you then narrow down with filters, Baggins' virtual bags act as the category filters themselves. Baggins has two options windows, one to setup the look and feel of the virtual bags, and another to create and edit the virtual bags. The first options menu let's you decide how the bags should present themselves, such as how many columns you want displayed, rarity highlighting for items, rather or not to replace the default bags, and rather or not to show at the auction house, mailbox, and bank. Advanced features including the ability to compress all stacks of items into one big virtual stack, setting the sort order of the virtual bags by rarity, slot or alphabetically, and defining an area for the bags to be shown so they don't overlap other UI elements. As a bonus, Baggins can be expanded with helper addons so it's aware of other inventory addons such as Outfitter, Auctioneer, or Itemrack.
Now that we've setup how the virtual bags will look let's cover the creation process and how it works. So the first thing to do is setup categories. Let's work with "weapons" in this example. You open the bags/categories window and add a category called weapons. Now we define what weapons are by adding rules. This is really easy as Baggins' menu is logically setup with drop down menus for each rule. We select "item type: weapon" as our first rule, but then realize that this could include mining picks and skinning knives, so for the second rule we select the "NOT" operation and the rule "tradeskill tool", this way they aren't shown. Next we create a virtual bag and I'm going to name it "Equipment" (but it could be called anything) and assign the category "weapons" to this bag. If we wanted to we could add another section to our equipment bag and assign another category to that section such as "armor." Now we have a brand new virtual bag that shows our weapons and armor. Typing it all out makes the process sound a little complicated, and while it is more so than the other addons we looked at today, it was actually pretty easy to see how Baggins worked thanks to the well designed interface. In fact my only complaints about Baggins are how you're limited to only the icons grid view, and how the amount of options may scare away novice addon users.
Whelp, that about covers it for this week's The Creamy GUI Center. I hope it wasn't information overload as I know we got down and dirty with the details of the reviewed addons this week. I really feel the addons highlighted represent the best bag and inventory addons you can find as of the time this was published. I wouldn't declare any of these particular addon a clear winner as they each provide the same basic functionality but go about it differently enough where they're each distinct from one another. It's always nice to have variety. Try them all out and figure which one bests suits your needs. Finally, I wouldn't be doing you justice if I didn't mention Feithar's Bag of Holding. I didn't review it because the addon is still being developed and is rough around the edges. It's definitely one to keep an eye on though. Be sure to join me next week as we finish up inventory managers with a look at Outfitter, Itemrack and more! Till then, happy modding!