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Reader UI of the Week: Adding to a UI compilation

Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to readerui@wowinsider.com, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

Welcome back to Reader UI of the Week, folks. I have just moved a few characters around server and faction-wise, so I've been knee-deep in moving interface folders around and setting up addons again with the incredibly annoying, yet functional, profile system. Suffice to say, I hope the profile system gets updated in the future with more options.

This week's Reader UI submission comes from Zachi, long-time addon junkie and new reader to WoW Insider. Welcome, ma'am or sir; we are glad to have you here. Hang around, won't you? Zachi's UI is based around ElvUI, my personal favorite (and recommended) UI compilation that makes a great base for any user interface, be it tank, DPS, or healer. Adding to a compilation UI can be a tricky affair, so let's see what we can learn from how Zachi added addons to an already featured UI compilation.

Zachi's healer UI: healer UI, ElvsUI, resto shaman

Hit me, Zachi:
Hi Mat,

I've been a long time add-on junkie though a short term reader of this site and I wanted to show my latest and longest lasting UI off a bit now that I've got it in a stable state.

Deadly Boss Mods – The one constantly mentioned and boy was this a pain to set up for me just in the fact that I went through each and every raid boss for cataclysm double checking that the correct things were checked. It probably wouldn't take quite so much time if I raided less than I do but I find that all the time spent squinting at the screen was well worth the effort so that I have only want I want to see showing up.

Elkano's Buff Bars – Wonderful add-on that gives me all the information I need to know and it gets slapped over to the side of the screen so that it stays out of line of sight.

Miks Scrolling Battle Text – While the default config is nice I did move things off to the side and make the windows a little smaller so I wasn't only seeing the combat text in the middle of fights.

ElvUI – I really love this add-on. It's added a final touch to my UI through its cohesiveness. It did get changed around most and oddly the least of all the add-ons. The problem with an add-on including its own artwork is of course the inability to really move around the big pieces like the chat and minimap. I think overall though I was able to place all the moveable pieces in compliment to the large immovable ones. The main thing I love about this add-on is how much I was able to streamline my add-on list by getting this one. I replaced SUF, Bartender, TipTac, Tidyplates, Button Façade, kgpanels, grid, omnicc, bagnons, sexymap, omen, and chatter when I found this. Something I do want to stress though is that you do lose a ton of configuration ability when you go with a generalized add-on rather than using ones for each task. I have no problem doing this because I happen to like the way elvui is set up in this regards but I'm sure there are people who equally dislike them. So I guess it's sort of a word of warning that as much as you get with elv you do have to give up equally as much in some cases.

Quartz and TotemTimers got trimmed down considerably. They had exactly the features I wanted in an add-on but with just a few extra things that I felt were cluttering up or already better done on another add-on.

Recount I try to keep small and out of the way but I do like being able to look through at points and see what's happening in a quick peak things like if everyone is doing their job dispelling or interrupting so I can compensate if something has happened.

My last bunch of add-ons are just extras. They're not really seen constantly but I'd go a little crazy without them making my life easier.
Add-on Control Panel
AuctionLite
_NPCScan
Postal

I'm a minimalist at heart and some of these add-ons were picked over others of equally good quality because they use less memory. Now while I know my computer could easily handle the larger add-ons (probably with a "bitch please" and disparaging look at me for my doubting) I happen to enjoy knowing it's only taken 9.21 mb to do this set up compared to over 30mb+ on my old set up. I've also tried to keep as much view space as possible clear while still being able to have all the info my healing/busybody self likes to know. Overall this has been by far my favorite UI to work with over the last few years of playing. While I enjoy tinkering with add-ons as they come and go, I really think the bones of this one will be staying for a long time to come.

Zachi
Level 85 Resto Shaman
Nagrand (Oceanic Alliance)
Thanks for the email and the submission, Zachi. Starting with a UI compilation like ElvsUI is a great way to see what the WoW UI is capable of while requiring a minimal amount of customization and work on your part. The real tricks come in when you begin to want to add your own components to a UI that has already been set up for you or change the way a compilation UI works with a particular UI element. The downsides to compilation UIs are that they are usually less customizable, since they have art assets and other static interface elements, and you usually have to wait until the whole compilation is updated to have it work correctly, which can be a pain on patch days.

Working with the static

Zachi's email points out that one of the challenges associated with working within the confines of a compilation UI is that there are larger, static elements present that you have to work around. For instance, most of the chat window and action bar setup in ElvsUI are not going to be going anywhere, for the most part. The two large addon blocks on the left and right side of the screen are, for the most part, static elements that will be the cornerstones of the UI. Working around and on top of those cornerstones is where your own ingenuity comes in.

MiksScrollingBattleText is a good example of an addon that takes a bit of finese to make work amongst the static. You could just leave the addon as is and go with the default setup, but a little time and dedication to making Miks work "outside" the center of the screen, or even outside the general area of your main focus, can work wonders for saving space and clutter. Take Zachi's Miks' placement, for instance. The incoming and outgoing boxes are stacked rather than parallel in the center in a "C" shape rather than the box default. Less clutter is now present on the right side of the screen where other addons can live or keep the focus on the left side of the screen with Grid, etc.

Elvs does feature a lot of moveable parts, and you would be wise to tinker with them using Elvs own included addon. The player and target frames, most notably, can be moved around just like Zachi did. By moving all of these elements to their own area, their focus now has priority when Zachi needs information on their own health and mana, as well as their target's vitals. For the most part, I'm assuming that Zachi will be watching Grid and not the target bars.

Losing options

It is true that you will occasionally lose options when switching to a compilation UI. Remember, the compilation is taking control of the wheel for many aspects of the UI in order to give you the uniform look of things. However, you are still able to add your own flair and customization. Zachi's buffs and debuffs are handled with Elkano's Buff Bars and, as you can see in the screenshots, live above the Elvs chat box fitting in nicely with the rest of the addons. While I don't necessarily enjoy the way Elkanos' configuration utility works, it does work and can make sorting buffs and debuffs pretty easy.

Compromises will have to be made. The best part, though, is that you don't have to make many compromises. The key to any UI compilation is to try it and test it and play with it. You can always start back from scratch if something didn't go the way you wanted or you just can't live without a certain addon setup.

The in-raid screenshot shows the real power of some of this stuff. Sure, the notifications aren't going, but the screen is already nice and clean, in anticipation of some crazy boss fights and epic trash pulls in the near future. Zachi smartly added things to the Elvs base but clueing in to what was missing and what needed to be changed and kept as much of that behind the scenes. Sure, you can customize from within, and it is recommended that you do tinker around with settings to get what you want out of a compilation, but don't forget that it isn't the end of the world. Everything can be added to -- just remember to do it with care. Zachi's setup is a good example of doing things right.




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.

Filed under: Add-Ons, Reader UI of the Week

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