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Reader UI of the Week: Crazy Castbars

Reader UI of the Week SOMETHING HERE

I really wanted to make a special, seasonal, Winter Veil UI, but alas I ran out of time. Next year, maybe! If you made a special Winter Veil or other seasonal UI to pretty up your screen over the festive period, do send it in, I'd love to see it!

Instead, we've got Palanorma's paladin UI, which he sent in in response to last week's column. He said in his email that it reminded him of his, and I can definitely see why. Palanorma included two screenshots, one not casting, and one casting.

If you want to send in your UI, drop an email to olivia@wowinsider.com. Do let me know what addons you're using, and if you have any thoughts on elements of your UI that you're particularly proud of or unhappy with, do put that information in, too.

Also, someone suggested a while back that we should run a UI surgery, where you send in a UI that you're unhappy with, and the community and I have a bash at fixing it for you. If that sounds like fun, or like it might help you, send in your UI!


The email accompanying Palanorma's UI reads as follows:
My UI is that same throw everything down at the bottom type, which I am able to use because I play on a 42 inch TV. A major design of my UI is the big vertical cast bars. I love them and never miss an interrupt (player left, target right). Another is the button pad on the right side which is all key bound to my razor naga which has 12 keypad style buttons (It helps me remember where each button is bound). The left bunch of buttons are other random key binds to help keep some symmetry. I also use weak auras to display holy power, and to make the middle of my UI flashy when I pop avenging wrath. Many hours have gone into this UI.

Addons:
Weak Auras
sunnart viewports
tinydps
sexymap
razer naga addon (like bartender)
chatter
gnosis
shadowed unit frames
healbot
masque
Notable Points

I can definitely see why last week's UI inspired Palanorma to send in his, there are a lot of very similar elements, and it's good to see the versatility between different players' ways of implementing the features offered by different UI addons. Both UIs use Sunn Viewport art to similar effect, but the styles are fairly different, with Palanorma creating more of a defined border with the UI elements placed over the viewport art, while Tweedlebop let the viewport art do all the talking.

You'll likely have spotted how I called this column Crazy Castbars, and they really, really are. I don't think I've ever seen a UI with vertical castbars before, and I've left this extremely notable point up here rather than putting it under either good things or not-so-good things, because I'm really not sure what category it falls under! The idea of vertical castbars is interesting, but I'm not sure if it works better than the traditional left-to-right design. I've never seen a game that has castbars which run vertically as part of the standard design, but I believe it's an option available in UI modifications such as IceHUD, and indeed, in Palanorma's UI.

I'm trying to think of reasons why they might not be the default choice, and the only one I can even remotely quantify is that they may somehow mean that you're less likely to notice when an enemy cast starts. In the IceHUD setup, as we've seen in a couple of previous UIs, the vertical castbars appear right in the center of your screen, under your nose, so you're not likely to miss them, but it strikes me that a cast starting right at the bottom of the screen could be further out of your focus area, and therefore not grab your attention as well as a more central castbar could. However, Palanorma does say he never misses a cast. What do you think? Would you consider some crazy castbars like these?

Good Things

Right, now that we've got the castbars out of the way, let's focus on the rest of the UI. It's really, really pretty, for starters. Some minor quibbles aside, I think it's a great-looking UI. I like the consistent theme of the bold black borders a lot, if you're going to do something, be thorough, and Palanorma's definitely done that! I particularly like the weakauras models for the holy power, they're very gold and glowy and paladin-y! The texture used on the action buttons is nice too, the whole thing looks very shiny. And I really appreciate Palanorma's attention to the symmetry of the UI, in the picture, having the 5 holy power and the buffs on the opposite side, all balanmces out very nicely indeed. I also really like the bright long-term buffs and the more faded temporary ones. There's an addon I thought Palanorma might benefit from, which is the buff version of Masque: BlizzBuffsFacade. It should, as he uses Masque already, permit him to skin the buffs to match the action buttons, and tie in even better with the rest of his UI.

Speaking of action buttons, I think the central group works really well, housing his key abilities in a focused area works very nicely. And, with the above discussion of the crazy castbars, and notiwthstanding the below conversation about fonts, the positioning of the enemy castbar text is, in my opinion at least, brilliant -- it's right where you'd be looking to check cooldowns on key abilities and the like, so it's in your focus. And, on reflection, the appearance of this cast text above your action bars would alert you to an enemy cast the second it started, even if the castbar begins from the bottom of the screen! Very innovative and original.

Not-so-good things

On the not-so-good things list today, we've got a few minor niggles, nothing serious though, just bits and bobs here and there. One such niggle is the font inconsistency. I know it's really tricky to deal with, though, hence why it's only registering as a minor niggle at this point rather than a more major one. The Blizzard default fonts are hard to modify compared to the ones in addons, and, of course, you want to pick one of the other, prettier fonts for your addons. Not the Blizzard own-brand one! There used to be addons like Fonter which dealt with these problems for you, but I haven't yet found one that's up to date, so the only other option is to use addons for all visible UI elements. In this case, a questing addon and some alteration within Chatter would do most of the work.

My only other quibble with this UI, really, is whether the sunnart is really needed. On last week's UI with Tweedlebop, the sunnart viewport was a really central part of the display. He'd gone to great pains to show it off, while this week, Palanorma has rather hidden it away. I'm wondering if it's necessary to have the art behind the panels at all, given that they almost completely hide it anyhow. What are your thoughts?

Reader UI of the Week Crazy CastbarsAnd the weekly "NOOOOO" goes to healbot. Not the use of healbot, I used to be quite the fan myself, I just don't really think it quite fits with the rest of this very attractive UI!

Healbot is pretty customizable, visually at least, and I wonder if Palanorma just hasn't quite got round to playing with it yet, it's very similar to how mine was before I'd really dug into the customization. The self and option panels could perhaps go, and those icons are properly tiny! Although, it should be remembered that Palanorma's playing on a huge, huge, huge screen, so maybe it's not actually an issue.


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: Reader UI of the Week

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