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.
I'm back this week to finish our look at inventory manager addons. In the last two parts we looked at addons that helped you organize and sort your inventory. Now we know exactly where to find that nifty new doodad you just got but how do you quickly equip it when you need it? We'll solve that question this week with a look at addons that help you swap equipment around in the thick of adventuring. With so many items that have a particular use,, the addons reviewed this week will hopefully take some of the hassle out of using them. And for those classes that have different sets of gear for different occasions, these addons will help you out the most. So let's get right into it with a look at outfit and gear managers.
Keep in Mind...
For the purposes of today's addon reviews, I used my druid to test out each addon's equipment switching functionality by using his shapeshifting abilities. Also it's important to note Blizzard's rules on item switching. The game will only allow you to switch out your main and off hand items while you're in combat. So while the addons we look at today help you switch out gear fast and easily, it will only do so when WoW allows it to, mostly out of combat.
First on today's menu is Outfitter. The first thing you will notice when installing this addon is an extra movable bar that's called, get ready for it, the outfit bar! On this bar are a variety of icons representing different outfits. There's a lot of premade outfits such as birthday suit, battleground, riding, and swimming among others. Even more exist if you're a class that has different stances or forms. You can use this bar to switch between your equipment sets using your mouse or a key binding. The cool thing about Outfitter is this bar is completely optional, a great thing because if you're like me you don't have room for yet another addon doodad on your screen. An Outfitter fubar plugin has much of the same functionality of the bar too.
By now you're probably thinking, "I don't want to have to click on a button or key to switch my outfits, what a pain!" Well the good news is you don't have to. Outfitter comes with a very powerful scripting engine that greatly automates the process. Practically any event you can think of where you'd need to change gear is included, stances, PvP, different forms, mounted, even falling! (Go go gadget parachute cloak!) And for advanced users who are familiar with the script syntax you can even write your own. To make the outfit, you first choose the state that you want to wear the outfit. It's best to define a "normal" outfit first, a baseline if you will. To do this you open up your character sheet and you'll fine an extra button at the top right that shows the Outfitter panel. The panel will show all the premade outfit sets, and this is where you'll do all your configuring. Clicking on one of the outfits will make check boxes appear on all your equipment slots. You choose which slots you want to be included in this outfit, and then choose the gear that goes in that slot. That's essentially all there is to making an outfit. For example, to make a bear form outfit, you'd click "Druid:: Bear Form' (only shown if you're a druid) check the slots that you want to change equipment in, and then put on the equipment. Now thanks to Outfitter's automated scripts, the next time you switch to bear form all the equipment slots you checked will change to the gear you assigned. (Remember the rules I talked about above on when the game allows equipment to be changed in and out.) Overall I found Outfitter pretty easy to use, and was able to make several outfits in only about 10 minutes of playing around with it The amount of options may be a tad overwhelming at first, but Outfitter's flexibility shines through allowing you to ignore and hide features you're not concerned about, such as the outfit bar.
Almost a complete 180 from the design philosophy of Outfitter, ClosetGnome is a bare bones equipment set manager, but bare bones in a good way! The author intended ClosetGnome to be efficient with its resources, so those looking for a lightweight equipment manager will be in luck. On its own, ClosetGnome only allows you to make equipment sets and change into them with its minimap button, Fubar widget, or key binding. There is no automatic switching or other fancy features out of the box. For some this may be just the thing you want without all the extra frills, but for those wanting more, ClosetGnome's author allows for its features to grow via enhancement addons or "modules". That's right, addons for your addons. Honestly though it's rather clever, sort of a buffet style of pick and choosing just the stuff you'll use without all the extra stuff weighing you down. Here's a breakdown of some of Closet Gnome's third party modules.
- ClosetGnome_Banker - Adds store/retrieve functionality for your sets at the bank.
- ClosetGnome_BigWigs - Enables autoequipping specified sets for bosses.
- ClosetGnome_Mount - Saves you the trouble of equipping the carrot when mounting.
- ClosetGnome_OhNoes - Tries to save your repair costs when you're about to die by unequipping your weapons.
- ClosetGnome_Switcher - Automatically switch sets based on your current form/stance.
- ClosetGnome_Zone - Assign sets to specific zones, like a casual set for Ironforge.
- ClosetGnome_HelmNCloak - Define Helm and Cloak display for ClosetGnome sets.
After selecting the extra modules for ClosetGnome based on the extended functionality you want, it adds the extra features into its menu, allowing you to assign an outfit to the new conditionals. Through the use of these modules, ClosetGnome becomes a full featured inventory manager. However even with all the extra modules, Outfitter still has a few features over ClosetGnome, such as automatically generated outfits based on a certain stat. For example, Outfitter can compose a set of fire resist gear by reading the stat off an item, automatically choosing the best in a slot. This is a pretty cool feature but it could be argued that by letting the addon make your set for you the selection process wouldn't be able to handle all the variables that a person can. This feature could be added to ClosetGnome with a module, but none has been written yet. Overall ClosetGnome was easy to use and is a great alternative to Outfitter for minimalist players.
I didn't quite have enough time and space to do a full review of ItemRack, and it's quite similar in scope and features to Outfitter. It definitely deserves a mention though as it was a pioneer in the field of equipment set addons. It has just recently received a few updates and it seems that the author is once again working on it. One unique feature I like about ItemRack is when you mouse over slots on your character sheet. Items that are in your inventory for that slot appear, allowing easy switching. If ClosetGnome isn't enough for you, and Outfitter isn't your cup of tea give ItemRack a whirl.
Bonus: If you're looking to just manage trinkets, Trinket Menu has you covered. Made by the same author of ItemRack, they share the same look and feel. Trinket Menu allows you to set a queue of trinkets based on a priority that you set. It will then switch out your trinkets when out of combat based on cooldown status and priority. You can even override the queue for special occasions such as when you're mounted.
Once again, we have no clear winner amongst these addons. Each go about managing your gear a little bit different than the other. For those wanting every feature under the sun, I'd go with Outfitter. It's feature packed and easy to set up. For those not needing all the extras, and want a pure equipment switching addon ala cart style, ClosestGnome is lean and mean. And somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is ItemRack. It's got enough features to get you by, and its trigger system is flexible. Also a small note, all three of these addons have a Fubar widget, which makes it easy toggling equipment sets.
Well that wraps up the series on inventory addons. Next week I have a surprise topic planned which I think you'll enjoy. It's a little different for this column, but can still be considered part of the user interface and therefore up for scrutiny. See you then!