Tag Archives: addons

User Interface Part 3 – Unit Frames

If you’re still using the default Blizzard UI for your unit and raid frames, you could be doing much better! There are a number of great unit frame mods around. My addons of preference are X-Perl Unit Frames and Grid. Both are highly customizable and can show you a lot of information in a very neat little package.

X-Perl Unit Frames

X-Perl Unit Frames is what I use for self, focus, target and target-of-target frames.

Xperl unit frames

Since I use Grid for my raid frames, the first thing I do when setting up X-Perl is turn off the built-in party and raid frames (I also make sure to turn off the Blizzard party frames in the interface options). You don’t want a million frames on your screen. I also turn off the self buffs option, because I use default Blizzard buffs at the top right of my screen.

Open the X-Perl configuration menu by clicking the button on your minimap. When the menu is open, you can click and drag your frames to position them where you want them. X-Perl has large set of options that control how your frames look. I suggest playing around with them to see what you like. Here are a few of the options I find especially helpful:

Global:

  • Fat Health Bars – This makes the health bars wider than the default and I find them easier to see.
  • Buff Cooldown/Buff Countdown – Shows the time remaining on your buffs and debuffs on your target.

Player:

  • Player Portrait, 3D Portrait – This adds 3D pictures to your frames. Not overly useful, but it looks nice.
  • PVP Flag – Shows when you are flagged
  • Values – Shows absolute health and mana values
  • Percent – Shows percentage of health and mana
  • Cast bar – Shows your or your targets cast bar within their frame.
Xperl cast bar


Target

  • As with my Player frame, I use the options to show 3D portrait, values, percent and cast bar.
  • Target’s target – Shows an extra frame for this person/mob.
  • Enable Buffs, Big Buffs, Pet Too – Displays your buffs on your target larger than buffs from other players. Also shows buffs that come from your pets. The Pets Too option  is good to have on fights which use vehicles, like Flame Leviathan, as your vehicle counts as a pet.
  • Enable Debuffs, Big Buffs – Displays your debuffs on your target larger than debuffs from other players.

Grid

Grid is a raid unit frame addon, and I find it absolutely indispensible, especially when combined with Clique (I’ll get to Clique in my next post). There are other raid frame mods, such as Healbot and VuhDo (which I hear is excellent), but Grid has been my mod of choice for a couple years now. When set up properly, Grid can let you know pretty much everything that is going on in your raid.

Grid raid frames - druid UI

There are a number of extra Grid modules I use to make it even more informative. These are:
Grid Indicator Corner Text – Adds text indicators in the corners of the Grid frame. I use this for keeping track of the duration of my HoTs.
Grid Status HoTs – Adds timers for any spell with a HoT component. Essential for druids.
Grid Status Lifebloom – Shows the time remaining on your lifebloom, color-coded to show how many stacks are up.
Grid Status Raid Debuff – Displays all debuffs applied to players in raids.
Grid Mana Bars – Displays mana bars. Let’s me know when someone could use my Innervate more than me. Also great for shamans to see when their group is in need of a Mana Tide Totem.

How Grid looks is extremely customizable. There are three main menus in the Grid setup. Frame allows you to assign which spells and effects you want to be shown and where they are displayed. Layout is used to adjust the size, shape and spacing of the raid frames. Status is used to add new buffs/debuffs and specify how each effect is displayed.

Frame
When you go into the Frame menu, you will see all the regions of Grid where effects can be displayed. When you click on one, you will see a list of the effects you can assign to that region. Just check the boxes next to the effects you want to display.  Here is my setup:

  • Border – My target
  • Center Text – Unit name
  • Center Text 2 – Death warning, Lifebloom Duration, Lifebloom Stack
  • Center Icon – Raid Debuff, Ready Check
  • Top Left – Aggro alert
  • Corner Text Top Right – My Wild Growth
  • Corner Text Bottom Left – My Rejuvenation
  • Corner Text Bottom Right – My Regrowth
  • Mana Bar – Mana
Grid HoT tracking

In the advanced options, you can specify the size and placement of the mana bar and the font for any text displayed. You can also set the orientation of your frames, either vertical (what I have) or horizontal. This will change direction the health bars go.

Layout
Use Layout to specify the size and shape of your frames. I display mine as small boxes, so my frames take up as little room as possible. Play around with the options until you find a setup that works for you.

Status
From the staus menu, you can add new buffs and debuffs (if you dont want to use Grid Status Raid Debuffs), as well as specify the colours used for each effect on Grid. For example, my aggro alert is red. My Lifebloom stacks changes from yellow to orange to green depending on the number of stacks. In the status menu you can also filter out raid buffs that you don’t want to see, or assign them lower priority so more important buffs will be displayed first.

Druids love their raid frames. If you don’t like my Grid setup, take a look at Rejuvo, Dreambound or Tree Bark Jacket for some other ideas. Edit: Check out One More Alt for a very comprehensive guide on how to set up Grid. Zahia isn’t a druid (nobody’s perfect), but this is an excellent guide that should clear up any confusion you have about what all the different configuration options do.

Public Service Announcement

Now, I have something very important to tell everyone. Grid (or raid frames in general) is not just for healers. That’s right, repeat after me: Grid is not just for healers. Do you have a spell you need to cast on others during combat (Innervate, Battle Rez, Misdirect, Tricks of the Trade, Hysteria, Hand of Salvation)? Use Grid. Are you a class that is capable of getting rid of poisons, diseases, curses or magic effects? Use Grid. Do you participate in raid fights like Blood Queen Lana’thel where you need to be able to see who in the raid still needs to be bitten? Use Grid. Are we noticing a trend here? Grid is an excellent tool that will give any raider a better understanding of what is going on with the rest of their raid. This makes you play better and look good to your raid leaders.


User Interface posts:

Part 1 – General UI Info

Part 2 – Action Bars
Part 3 – Unit Frames
Part 4 – Key Bindings
Part 5 – Combat Text and Notifications

User Interface Part 2 – Action Bars

For me, the biggest advantage that action bar mods have over the standard UI is that they give you the ability to put your bars anywhere on your screen and show as many or as few buttons as you want. Popular action bar addons include Dominos, Bartender and Macaroon.

Dominos

The main action bar mod I use is Dominos. Dominos lets you customize the position, number, size, spacing and scale of your action bars. You can also choose to hide action bars or make them visible only when moused-over. In addition to the action bars, you can also modify things like your XP bar, cast bar, roll box, class bars (like druid forms or warrior stances), bags and menu bars.

When you enter configuration mode (by clicking the minimap icon or typing /dom), you’ll see something like this:

Dominos bar mod setup

All the actions bars available to you will be displayed. To move an action bar, just left-click and drag it to where you want it. Bars can be hidden completely by middle-clicking them or pressing shift+right-click.

To adjust a specific action bar, right-click on it and the settings menu will come up. Play with size and columns to adjust how many buttons appear on the bar. Use spacing and padding to adjust the space between the buttons. Scale effects the size of the bars. I like mine smaller than normal, so I set it at 85%. Faded opactity is used when you want to make your bars fade out when they aren’t needed. Set the faded opacity to 0 if you want them to be completely faded out.

When I’m playing, only two action bars are visible.

Dominos mar mod - hidden

I actually have six action bars on my screen, but four of them are hidden unless I mouse-over them. I use the faded opacity feature to hide the bars I feel aren’t important enough to be visible all the time, namely: menu, bags, class bar and an extra action bar with things like my mounts, mage water and resurrect spell.

Dominos mar mod - shown

A word of warning about action bar addons: It depends on which one you use, but action bar addons have been known to cause some Oh Shit! moments on fights like Teron Gorefiend or Blood Queen Lana’thel when not set up properly. In general, if you are going to be doing a fight with a mechanic that will replace one of your action bars, make sure that action bar 1 and your pet bar are not turned off. They can be empty, and therefore not visible, but don’t turn them off.

Button Range and OmniCC

Two mods I use that enhance the usefulness of my action bars are Button Range and OmniCC.

OmniCC, Button Range bar mods

Button range will turn your spell buttons red when your target is out of range. As you can see above, my target is out of range for heals. Omni CC adds a numerical countdown to items and abilities that are on cooldown to let you know when they’ll be ready to use again. Above you can see the cooldowns remaining on my Nature’s Swiftness, Barkskin, Innervate and Tranquility.

OPie

The last action bar mod I use is OPie. OPie creates radial menus in place of action bars. It is great for things you that you want to be able to access, but don’t want taking up room on your screen. The addon is very easy to configure. There are some out of the box ring configurations (tracking, trade skills, raid markers) that get populated with the abilities/items that fit in that category. In the Ring Bindings menu, just assign a key binding to the rings you want to use. You can also create custom rings if the default ones dont meet your needs.

Opie bar mod

On my druid I use OPie for my trade skills and buffs. On my hunter I use it more extensively for things like aspects, pet skills and traps.


User Interface posts:

Part 1 – General UI Info

Part 2 – Action Bars
Part 3 – Unit Frames
Part 4 – Key Bindings
Part 5 – Combat Text and Notifications

 

User Interface Part 1 – General UI Info

I am a big fan of customized UIs. I really think that a good UI is an important aspect of raiding. Whether it’s to keeping track of your health and mana, spell cooldowns, who needs a decurse, a good UI can really help to keep you informed of what’s going on in your raid and can help you to react faster. I know that many people are perfectly capable of playing without mods. Bully for them. But whenever I see someone post a screenshot that shows they are using the ugly default UI, I cringe a little.

When choosing addons and designing your UI, ask yourself what information you need to be made aware of and what abilities you need to be able to access as quickly as possible.

As a resto druid, here are some of the things I need to know:

  • The health levels of the whole raid
  • The mana levels of the raid (I’m generous with my innervates)
  • Who has a curse or a poison that I can get rid of
  • Who has a damaging debuff that needs to be healed through
  • When my abilities are off cooldown (Swiftmend, Nature’s Swiftness, etc.)
  • Who my HoTs are ticking on and for how long
  • Who has aggro
  • Who is out of range
  • When a boss is casting or using a special ability

The abilities I need to have extremely fast access to:

  • All my healing spells, obviously
  • Things that can save my butt: Health Stones, Crazy Alchemist Potions, Barkskin, Shadowmeld
  • Support abilities: Battle Rez, Innervate

Then ask yourself what is not important. If you want a nice clean UI, things like trade skills, mounts, spells you never use in raids, and the Handful of Snowflakes you’ve been carrying around for 3 months do not need to be on your action bars. Or, if you prefer, they can be on hidden action bars with the right addon.

Some addons do require a bit of setup time, but once you do it, you’ll have a nice-looking interface that is tailored to meet your specific needs. I definitely think it’s worth it.

So, without further ado, here’s an action shot of my raid UI!

Restoration Druid Combat UI

Basic interface-related addon list:
Bindpad
Button Range
Clique
Deadly Boss Mods
Dominos
Grid
Mik Scrolling Battle Text
Omni CC
OPie
Power Auras Classic
Sexy Map
X-Perl Unit Frames

Over the next week or so I’ll be putting up more detailed posts about the specific addons and how to set them up.

P.S. Sorry hunters, I won’t be sharing my hunter UI right now. It’s too busy at the moment and the trained eye could look at it and point out all my bad habits. I can’t have that. 😛


User Interface posts:

Part 1 – General UI Info

Part 2 – Action Bars
Part 3 – Unit Frames
Part 4 – Key Bindings
Part 5 – Combat Text and Notifications