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Reader UI of the Week: Going from laptop to desktop

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.

The move from laptop to desktop can be a startling change of pace for many players. Usually players go from a desktop to the more mobile laptop, considering that laptops are so powerful these days that they're not being thought of anymore as second-rate gaming machines. Jumping from laptop to desktop would be a pretty jarring experience.

Reader Blackoccamy has made this jarring move and has sent in her UI to show off a simple and lived-in DPS user interface. After going from a healer role to a DPS role, the requirements for a user interface drop a bit, since you don't need to have as much concern for your fellow raiders. Many pieces of DPS UIs don't need as much functionality as their healing equivalents, so you might find yourself with some extra space left over.

Blackoccamy's UI: laptop-to-desktop, healing-to-DPS, we-used-to-raid-together

Take it away:

Hi Mat!

My interface has gone through a ton of changes since I started playing in Wrath on my laptop. We're now in the tail end of Cata, and I have a desktop I play on now that gives me a bunch more memory and screen space to work with. I started as a disc priest healing for 25 mans and have now settled into shadow priesting in one of our guild's 10 mans. I do heal on occasion and have a blood dk, so my UI has been created with an eye on keeping it similar between roles/characters- the only real differences are specific power auras and actually showing the first four bartender bars on the alts instead of keeping them hidden because I haven't memorized keybinds yet. Otherwise I like keeping my screen clear of everything but my mini-map, quest tracker and chat boxes!

My addons and why/how I use them:

Align A neat little addon for centering or mirroring parts of the UI. I normally have it off.

Bags and Merchants I like the default bags, and this will bring up all of your bags when you click a merchant or banker.

Bartender4 "Always Hide" is the best checkbox. I have one bar with two boxes open, one for my staff so I don't forget to siphon bosses after kills and one for rotating macros out for different fights (I got rid of the bar that holds the fly macro and added another box on the one underneath it after taking the Rag screenshot). On alts the first four bars are shown, and the relevant drink/health pot and sometimes quest items are in the always-shown bar. My only beef with Bartender is I can't hide my main bar -except- when I'm in a vehicle, so I just show the vehicle bar when it's used. This is all well and good...unless you're doing a quest where you are NOT in a vehicle but they change out your first bar with other moves anyway (think the quests in Hyjal with the speech, or biting someone on Lanathel). Thankfully I've either known about them beforehand and can unhide the bar, or are out of combat when they throw it at you, but it was still annoying :( If anyone knows how to get it to unhide when there's something other than what -I- put there on the bar, please let me know!

BetterPowerBarAlt The default bar for things like the feathers on Alysrazor would cover up my power auras, so this let me move it up a tad.

Chatter You've covered this and Prat enough, so all I'll say is that I like being able to keep my chat in one pane, with a filtered version that only shows /g, /w and custom channels in another tab, a third with rep gains and /1, and then a separate pane above it for things like online/offline messages, loot gained (hiding money gains), loot rolls, etc that is click-through unless I want to check something in it. It keeps me able to actually read chat while farming things without having to scroll up a ton and/or miss parts of the conversation. I keep the chat pane big because I play this game for the social aspect mainly, and I cringe every time I see a UI that only shows three or five lines of chat at a time...

Chinchilla nifty little addon that lets me move things around on my screen. I think I made my quest tracker bigger with it, tweaked the mini-map a bit, and moved that little icon you get when you're riding a traveler's tundra mammoth etc. that has multiple seats.

Clique Combined with the default raid frames (yes yes I know, but it lets me read debuffs on a person by mousing over and Grid didn't let me do that) I can heal without swapping targets, throw PW:S around, smite my target's target, or raise ally on my tank. Very very useful!

EveryQuest2 Yes I went through and did Loremaster when the Shattering hit. It was also nice for finding those quests you'd done for Scryers but not for Aldor when you run out of turn-ins and want to be done with Hero of Shatt.

FuBar with BagFu, DurabilityFu, ExperienceFu (for alts), FactionsFu (not shown in one or two of the pics), GearFu (change out the default UI gear sets, you talked about it forever ago and it's great!), MailExpiryFu (great for alts), MoneyFu, and RestFu (also great for alts). I've tried switching to one of the still-maintained data broker bar things, but I'm very particular with how I like things to look and exactly how they show their data, so until FuBar completely breaks I think I'm going to stick with it.

GatherMate2 shows possible node positions on your map and mini-map. It comes with a database that gets updated, but I prefer pretending that my alts and main are mapping them out ourselves and sharing the info between themselves, so I can really tell where I've done laps getting mining/herbalism up on them :) It's also dead useful for Archaeology, too, it'll mark where you find the shiny things so you can just glance at your map and be sad that all your Kalimdor sites are nelf again.

LoadIT Check addons on and off, then reload your interface. Simple and easier than logging in and out a ton.

Magic Runes DK addon, very nice for my tank. It sits right above her unit frame.

OmniCC Mostly useful on alts at this point, or checking the CD on trinkets/hearthstone in my main's bags.

OPie Probably my favourite addon here- all my mounts with shift-space, out of combat things like hearthing and swapping specs on F5, profession-related stuff on F6, raid markers/world markers on F1 and shift-F1, all my in combat CDs on mousebutton 4...so nice and out of the way :3 It frees up keybinds and spots on action bars, and is really easy to change around/add onto.

Parrot I've been debating turning parts of this off, mainly because it won't let me hide damage output over 1,000, which seems like an absurdly low number. I installed it to move my incoming damage/heals to the side because seeing a spriest in most of Firelands is a pain with the colors used in there, and the damage output stuff just seems too spammy. Help?

Power Auras Classic As I said, I don't like having a ton of stuff showing on my screen when I don't need it to be. Most of the auras I have set up are "action useable" for different CDs from Dispersion to Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death. The latter two sit just above my cast bar, as they are the only moves in my normal rotation that have a CD instead of a cast time. They'll also show if I'm locked out of shadow spells. I also have some relating to actual buffs on myself, and one to let me know I can double-tap SW:D because the SUF 25% is sometimes slightly too high.

Quartz My cast bar is between my unit frame and my target's, with my pet bar slightly above that (for when I'm MCing things), then my target's above that and my focus above -that- with a different border. It keeps my attention on the center of the screen easier this way than trying to fit them next to the unit frame of the caster.

Raid Frame Icons You also mentioned this and it's been a godsend for raiding this tier. You can move the icons around or resize them too, which is nifty :)

Scrap Just adds a little icon on the bottom of a vendor and will auto-sell any grays in your bags. It'll also sell that thrice damned Boomstick from Anzu if you drag it to said icon and click it once.

SUF and Skada Clumping these together since they're fairly well known and I seem to use them like everyone else. SUF is set to fade out if I'm inactive, which means out of combat, full health/mana, not casting anything, and don't have a target selected. The focus frame stays visible, as does the pet bar when my fiend is out or I'm in a vehicle. I have Skada set to show threat during fights and then dps otherwise, and the icon for it is the only one on my mini-map still so I can choose when it's hidden or not.

teksLoot I got tired of having the loot boxes pop up on top of my cast bar, so they are now at the top of my screen much closer to the confirmation window. Bonus points for it because it'll show how many needs/greeds have been clicked on each item prior to you clicking, so you can hit need when the boomkin accidentally hits DE on that FL BoE to save it from the chopping block.

TipTac I have it set to just over my raid frames, and it makes it easy to mouse over the thing you threw your DP on to see if it's run out yet or not (Find me an addon that will -only- tell you the remaining time on your DP if it's up and I will love you forever, all the dot timers I've found so far are annoying as hell).

DBM DXE was great but it hadn't been updated for awhile so I switched back to this in Cata. I have the "oh it'll happen at some point" bars lined up under my unit/focus frames, and the "aaaahhh fire everywhere in two seconds" bars under my target/ToT frames. On my alts I don't run with it on, and my action bars are shown in those two spots instead. And yes I know the range finder is on top of my pet bar, I still need to figure out a better spot for one/both of them but they're both up so infrequently I don't really care at this point.

The main questions I have are how to show my main action bar when the game changes it on me (my pet bar is above my target so I can click abilites when I'm MCing things) and doesn't throw me into a vehicle bar; a DP timer of some sort, even if it's just how to config Power Auras to do it reliably, and again with PA how to make them a bit more visible. Nef and almost all of Vortex Pinnacle are an exercise in constantly moving my camera around because the environment would make the reds and whites (respectively) invisible and that made for a hard time knowing how long before MB came off CD or if I had any shadow orbs up.

Thanks for reading!...Or at least looking at the pictures...

BlackOccamy
Maelstrom Horde

Thanks for the submission and email, Blackoccamy. DPS user interfaces are a weird mix of function and style because of the different concerns that DPS players have with regards to the game world. I've known Blackoccamy for a long time, and the iterations of her UI have gone in many different directions. In fact, I remember the days in ICC before Sindragosa pulls talking about how her UI was going to change and what she wanted out of her setup.

No action bars, again

One of the fundamental differences between the UIs that I create and many UIs that come in to Reader UI of the Week is that many of them do not show action buttons, whereas my UIs are built around the bars, as if they were the centerpiece at my user interface Thanksgiving party. The action bars are some of the easiest to move and symmetrical UI elements that exist on the screen, so I take advantage of that fact by putting them front and center. Plus, I have a mental block on remembering where all my skills are despite their all being keybound, and I like using OmniCC to watch my cooldown timers.

So what do you put in the middle of the screen to promote symmetry and cohesiveness if the action bars are being hidden? Well, if you're Blackoccamy, you don't put anything. Just ditch symmetry all together. I had never even thought of that. Why do UIs need to be symmetrical? Is it because we view symmetry as appealing and beautiful or just that we are used to symmetry and order? At the end of the day, what works for you works for you because that is how your brain operates. Diversity in creation is a good thing!

You could say that the DPS meters in the center create a type of symmetry, and you would be right -- but for me, the DPS meters are just a focal center, especially for a DPS class. As you grow out from the center the symmetry collapses, leaving you with information rather than spatial construction. For instance, the entire right bottom area of the screen, once probably reserved for a 25-man elaborate raiding window, is now pared down to a 10-man version. With no new information needed for this area, it lies sad and dormant. Blackoccamy, you can find some use for this area, I know you can. Put a picture of Sindragosa there, just for old time's sake, or a picture of Trollbrudda ready to scream and burst a blood vessel in his face.

As for what action bar will let you just turn your main bar into the vehicle bar, I believe you can go into the options for your bars (whether in Dominos or Bartender) and set one of the properties for the bar to be your default vehicle bar. I am unsure, though, because the last time I tried to do it, it wasn't working out. In fact, I'm not even sure if it's possible. Options can be tinkered with to make different bars show up in different warrior stances, for instance, but I am not sure if vehicle works the same way.

Overlapping UI elements

When you start adding UI elements and new addons to an already-existing setup like the Blizzard default UI, you're going to run into the problem of overlapping graphics. It happens with everything from quest trackers to boss health frames and that damn PlayerPowerBarAlt. It's a fact of life, sadly. The worst part is that sometimes you don't even know it's a problem until you jump into a fight where new graphics pop up and you're stunned by new information.

I see it happen all the time with the Blizzard default quest tracker. That thing pops up all over the place, and it's starting to get on my nerves. The easiest way to get rid of it is to get an addon like MoveAnything and hide it. Personally, it's what I'm going to do sooner or later, if I ever have to see that thing pop up again on my max-level characters. It's good for dailies, sure, but it just seems like a lot of wasted space for someone without many quests to do a day.

As a stickler for pretty screens and non-overlapping UI elements, I want Blackoccamy to move the quest tracker. Please. Don't make me berate you in Mumble. I'll do it.

Do what works

Here's why I chose Blackoccamy's UI and why I wanted to have her send in her UI: I know the player behind this user interface. I've spent many, many hours in raids and dungeons with Blackoccamy and know that she is a capable, competitive high-end raider who gets the job done and clears content. If you look at BO's user interface and you write off someone's ability to play, you're doing yourself a disservice. You can tell a lot about how a player plays the game from how their user interface is set up, and frankly it's one of the best ways to gauge player understanding of a lot of the nuances of the WoW raiding game. But to put it all on the UI is probably not the best idea because of the nature of the World of Warcraft user interface. The intended malleable nature is there to let people tinker and grow and find what works. How interesting, right?

At the end of the day, do what works for you and show that your user interface is just a manifestation of how your brain processes information versus the only indicator of player skill. Good times, BO. Keep on rockin'.




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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