Reader UI of the Week is a little different this week, considering it is patch time, which can be brutal on players who use a sizable amount of addons. For this edition of Reader UI of the Week, we're running through the patch 4.2 UI changes and giving you the tips and info you need to get up and running faster then ever before. This patch's UI changes were not as substantial (on the user end, anyway) as in the previous patch, so hopefully things won't be too difficult this time around.
The first thing you must always do in a patch day scenario is back up your interface. This is an easy thing to do -- just copy the WTF and Interface folders from your WoW directory on your computer, and put those copies in a happy, safe place. Sure, you may need to do some tweaking and changing back to your profiles if you ever lose your UI, but it is better than starting over completely from scratch. Replace your backup frequently, or whenever you make some big change to your setup.
What's new in patch 4.2
With the new patch comes new interface elements, including the Dungeon Journal and the War Games tab built in to the PVP window. There are also some quality-of-life changes dealing with the UI and a bombshell feature in changing the order of your characters on the character select screen. No joke -- this is one of the best things to happen in WoW.
Getting to the Dungeon Journal is easy. Either press the new button on the mini menu (it's got the little computer icon for latency, the spellbook, etc.), or press Shift J to open up the menu. From there, you can tab between dungeons and raids and get all of the information you need on the bosses in whichever dungeon or raid you pick. While the Dungeon Journal won't tell you how to beat the boss or how to deal with boss abilities, it will let you know what you're up against. Tell a man to not stand in the fire and he won't burn for a day; teach a man to not stand in the fire and he won't burn forever.
War Games was a feature introduced awhile back, but it was a convoluted mess to get going with. Players who wanted to partake in War Games had to form up their groups and then input ... get ready for it ... text commands to get the whole thing up and running. What is this, the 20th century? Ugh. It was not the most elegant way of implementing War Games, but it got the job done.
Now, Blizzard has updated the PVP interface to add a War Games tab for easier facilitation of what I like to call "crush your friends time." War Games are a good idea in spirit, especially if you want to break your raid in two after some particularly fun boss kills and just beat the crap out of each other.
However, since there are no rewards for participating in War Games over the fun of it all, I think more than a few people will be unwilling to participate. Rewards are not really the focus of the system, to be honest. You can access the War Games menu by hitting "H" for PVP and selecting the War Games tab.
More interface changes
There are some cool new changes coming and one potentially problematic one, but it doesn't seem like this round of additions is going to break anything major.
My character selection screen is a mess, to be honest. There is no plan, no order -- it is complete and utter chaos. As someone who does enjoy the occasional neat and tidy thing, my character select screen is finally going to become home to a perfect order of characters.
This is one of those changes that players have not only been asking for for an extended length of time, but also one that shows how the simplest problem can aggravate people for long. Finally, finally, I can live in a world where the order of my characters on the selection window can be changed. The psychological effects of this change are going to be monumental for me. I wish I was in any way kidding.
Macro quality-of-life upgrade
Macro creation got a nice quality-of-life upgrade coming in the patch which allows players to have both the spellbook and the macro window open at the same time. This allows you to shift-click abilities from the spellbook to insert them into the macro window text box. It's a great change for when you want to easily add new skills to a macro or just don't want to write the whole thing out before you punch in the macro. Also, it works great for #showtooltip [Whatever] syntax, as you can see the icon of the ability you want to set the macro as before you create it.
The "save" button was a long time coming. Remember how when you wanted to save your game of The Legend of Zelda, you sort of had to press the power button and the reset button on the NES at the same time? Something to do with SRAM and power to the cartridge ... Anyway, macros never really "saved," and to me it always felt like a gamble. You sort of just closed the window and, however nebulous it seemed, they worked. Now, there's a save button. Yay!
Getting addon-ready for the patch
Here's where things get crazy and potentially tricky. When patch 4.2 hits, more than likely a few of your addons might stop functioning as normal or feel broken. Your game might run sluggishly, and a million other things might crop up. Step 1 is to not panic. There are a few things you can do before, during, and after you load up the patch to make this transition smoother.
Many addon authors have created beta or alpha versions of their addons in anticipation of the patch, using data and testing on the PTR. This is a good thing! These alpha and beta versions are ready to work with the patch at minute zero.
If you update your addons manually, head over to Curse or WoWInterface and grab some of the alpha versions of your critical addons and update your 4.1 versions. If you have a UI compilation, you may be out of luck until the authors release a pack update for their custom skins and all that, so you may have to wait and use your backup. You have a backup, right?
Curse Client users have it even easier. If you're a Curse Client user, you can set a preference on each addon for what release you want to be downloaded into your folder. Just right-click on an addon in the client, select "Preferred Release Type," and set it to alpha. Again, only do this for addons that are updated frequently or "big name" guys, and only for the ones critical to your play experience. DBM, for instance, has great alpha releases and will most likely work when the patch hits. Remember to update everything once you've made those new selections.
After the patch hits and you log in, addons hot, there are a few things you might notice. Here's how to deal with the most common.
- Too many error messages If you're getting a huge amount of Lua error messages or stuff starts freaking out on you whenever you press a key, take note of what the error is saying. If you can discern from the text of the error which addon is giving you trouble or what part of the UI is freaking out, you can disable that addon until it gets a fix or a new alpha or beta release. Disabled addons can either be done on the character select screen or using an addon called Addon Control Panel, which I recommend getting.
- Sluggish frame rate If you normally get a great frame rate and things become sluggish or suddenly come to a grinding halt, you potentially have an addon problem. This was the symptom in patch 4.1 of the damage log change that affected addons like Mik's and other scrolling combat text addons, as well as the repercussion for having AVR installed after it was forcibly broken by Blizzard. If you feel the sluggish framerate, first disable all of your addons and see if the problem clears up. If it does, you have an addon problem. Start turning on addons a few at a time (or even one at a time) until you can pinpoint which one is giving you the issue. Leave it disabled until a new alpha or beta release of the addon fixes the issue.
- Vanished settings Settings sometimes just ... magically disappear. If an addon's settings have reverted to default for absolutely no reason or chunks of your UI have reset themselves, don't panic. First, check to see if you can swap the profile back to the character you are using. It's possible the profile just got screwed up; reset, and you're back in business. Second, make sure the addons are updated. You never know. If you can't find the exact solution to get things back the way it was, you might have to spend a couple of minutes rebuilding. The information is all there, though, so it just might be some aesthetic customization that you need to redo.
Stay safe on patch day, kids. It's a rough world out there. Remember, update your addons, look for alpha or beta releases of known, constantly updated addons, and only trust known addon sites like WoW Interface and Curse. Thankfully, Curse is back up after an massive architecture failure, just in time for us to get our interfaces ready to roll.
Reader UI of the Week will return next week in its usual format, so get those post-patch UIs submitted! You can send submissions to Reader UI of the Week to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, browse through our past reader UI submissions and highlights for ideas and inspiration for when your UI completely and utterly destroys itself during the patching process and you run screaming from the room. I kid, of course.
Gallery: Reader UI of the Week gallery
Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.