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AddOn Spotlight: Skada

AddOn Spotlight focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience - the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond - your AddOns folder will never be the same! This week, we do some mad-deeps.

Before I start my first Addon Spotlight, I wanted to quickly give a primer on my Addon/UI preferences and the way I hope to spotlight and review addons here at WoW.com. World of Warcraft is over five years old now, and in such a short period of time a ragtag bunch of Addon coders and modders fashioned thousands of addons, making the game playable. Over five years the addon environment has evolved so greatly that now, in addition to discussing form and function, we can judge addons from an aesthetic approach. Addons that allow for greater customization and tailored appearances are now the norm. I strive to help players find not only the most useful and functional addons but also the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch. I hope everyone reading will appreciate the mix of form, function and aesthetics, creating a better UI for everyone.

My first Addon Spotlight is a great example of what I love about a good addon. Skada is a DPS meter following in the footsteps of Recount, the current ubiquitous DPS meter and bragging device currently in WoW. Recount, however, always gave me memory problems and felt sluggish. And, as a personal pet peeve, I never liked the bugle. We'll get to the bugle later. Recount does the job, however, and most of us never look back. So why switch to Skada?
Skada has a lot of good things going for it. In no particular order of goodness, Skada is a modular damage meter that is easy to configure and use, while at the same time is aesthetically pleasing and fits snugly into any UI.


Modular Addons

The modular nature of Skada is a huge draw. Each mode of data reporting is a separate addon, allowing the player to customize the amount of data collected, giving the user better control over the addon's CPU usage on an already CPU-svelt meter. As a tank, I don't need to know mana regen or the associated healing modes, so they are disabled.

[Update: It was correctly pointed out to me that CPU usage, not memory usage, would be a better yardstick to use to compare Skada and Recount. Due to loading separate modes and Skada's absence of relatively heavy graphs and charts, the addon has a smaller CPU usage footprint. Sorry for the confusion.]


DPS Data

Skada is a capable DPS threat meter with a simple to use data management system. What I like about Skada is the linear nature of parsing DPS data. Skada starts by showing you the fights that it has recorded data from. Clicking on a fight brings up the modes available (DPS, Damage, Healing done, etc.) and, with a click, shows you that data. A left click moves you forward and a right click moves you back to the modes selection - a very smooth implementation. I personally have Skada set up to display the top 10 DPSers in the list, but a simple roll of the scroll wheel down runs through the entire raid list.

Reporting DPS is the same two-click procedure present in Recount, without the aforementioned pet peeve bugle(an old roommate played the trombone - I have an aversion to Brass.) Clicking on the option wheel and selecting Report sends the selected data to the selected channel. Alternatively, a Shift-Click on the Skada window opens the menu, and /skada report performs the same Report function.

A really cool feature of Skada is Mode Switching. Under the options (Windows > Skada > Mode Switching) you can set what the default mode will be while in combat. Upon leaving combat, Skada will revert back to its default mode. For instance, a tank could use Threat mode when entering combat and have Skada revert to group DPS after combat has ended.


Customization


Customization is fluid and pretty. Skada can be bordered with presets or practically any border you have imported from another addon. Changing Skada's size is not intuitive (from the interface options menu select Window > Skada) but provides better precision for changing the horizontal and vertical size of Skada in slider form. I personally like slider controls because the cursor does not get in the way while fitting together UI pieces seamlessly. Recount's limitation on its horizontal size made it impractical for my minimalist UI.

Much to my liking, Skada allowed me to customize the texture and shape of the information bar at the top of the data collection, allowing me to use a simple border I created for my addon suite to match the UI. At this point in the addon community's lifetime, features like this are almost expected to be standard in all addons.


Skada Tips


As part of my Addon spotlights, I'll try to include a section at the end of the review with some suggestions for adding the UI to your already existing setup or just helpful reminders about key functionality of the addon. I know that in the past I've fumbled around looking for the correct "slash" command to open an Addon that wasn't part of the interface menu. Here are some quick tips and suggestions about Skada:
  • Impress your friends - according to Skada's Curse page, Skada means "damage" in Swedish. Which makes total sense, given the circumstances.
  • "/skada report" can be used to report your current mode data to the preset channel in place of two clicks.
  • "/skada reset" can be used to reset all the meters and fights in place of two clicks.
  • "Current Fight" is the data you want for, you guessed it, the fight you are in at that moment. Right clicking Skada and going back to the fight selection screen will show you more selections for previous fights and their times, but Current Fight will bring you back to "live" DPS data.
  • For pure DPS, you want mode "DPS." Again, a no-brainer, but some of the other modes also record DPS, like "Damage." My default is "Current Fight > DPS."

The Bottom Line
  • Completely customizable DPS meters, among other types of data collection
  • Precise size controls via slider
  • Modular approach to data collection - choose only the types of data you want to view
  • Save on addon CPU usage - approximate DPS with no graphs and charts
  • No bugle

Skada Links:

Download Skada from [Curse] or [WoWInterface].

Interface cleanliness is next to corrupted Old Godliness here on Addon Spotlight. Addon Spotlight is fueled by viewers like you, so if you have a mod you think Mat should take a look at, e-mail him at mat (at) wow dot com.

Filed under: AddOn Spotlight, Add-Ons

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