30
Nov
09

The neverending story – addons

A while back I did some talking (well, writing) about addons for furies. Quite a bit of time has passed since then, and as is the case with UI’s…they change. And consequently, mine has changed too. This has involved some addons being chucked out, others come in, and yet others staying the same.

The list I posted originally was the following:

  • SatrinaBuffFrames
  • Bartender4
  • Grid
  • DBM (DeadlyBossMods)
  • Recount
  • Omen
  • AzCastBars
  • OmniCC

I’ll spoil the ending, I have actually changed things:

  • SatrinaBuffFrames
  • Bartender4
  • Grid
  • DBM (DeadlyBossMods)
  • Recount
  • Omen
  • Quartz
  • OmniCC

Hard to spot the difference? I swapped AzCastBars for Quartz, simply because I felt like trying it. And it worked out, as well as do some other nice things, so I decided to keep it.

Anyway, the above addons aren’t the whole picture, they’re the combat/fury related addons. Other addons that have snuck their way into my addons folder:

  • Chatter
  • TotemTimers (for when the shammy calls)
  • Clique (oh gosh does it make healing nice)

Still, as addon collections go, I consider myself relatively lightweight. But, if I essentially haven’t changed my addons lineup, why resurrect the dead horse? Because I felt like it, and particularly because the addons themselves are only half the story. The big, gigantic, huge, issue is how we apply them to our UI’s, whether we do it according to the “more is better” principle or whatever other idea that made sense at the time.

Let’s apply the question to my own UI then. What has changed? It might be worth it to look at my various ideas of what makes a UI, the central theme so to speak.

The analogue approach

When designing an interface there are two schools of thought essentially. The one I call the analogue approach, and the digital approach. I first thought of it in relation to synthesizers and other electronic gadgets (it applies to anything electronic essentially). In more visual terms, on one hand you have the apparatus with every parameter having its own knob or dial, so that all the information is visible all the time. On the other hand you have a menu driven interface, which shows you only the barest necessities at all times, while hiding more detailed information in a slick (or not so slick) menu system. But you get a very simple interface out of it.

When I first started playing WoW, I was firmly rooted in the analogue mindset. I wanted all the abilities visible, in an orderly way of course, all the time. In raids, I could see everybodies mana and health, I could see tanks targets, all that jazz. The advantage was that I did not have to open any windows or browse any menus to see something…it was all there (within reason).

The clean analogue

Eventually, as I think happens for every analogue person, you are able to sort through the information available to you, and you decide what is unimportant, and cut it out. Its akin to packing for a camping trip…you lay all of the gear out you want to bring, upon packing you find it’ll weigh too much, and you cut out the stuff you dont need.

This was also the time when I really started taking an interest in how the UI looked, the time of SimpleMap, Buttonfacade, those kinds of things.

Do I really need that?

Granted, I am not one of those people who can cut the UI entirely. Two reasons. The first…I AM A CLICKER! There, I said it, now stop laughing. The second…a visible UI is just part of WoW for me. If it wasn’t there, something would be missing. As a result, I haven’t gone all minimalist, but I have started using addon functionality. For example I have a bar that only shows in combat, full of things that I’d never need outside combat (pots, stones, disarm macro, demo shout, that sort of thing).

That said, as I’ve said before, I am quite minimalist on which addons I install. If I don’t strictly need it, it goes. So apart from one eyecandy addon (Chatter), I have no purely visual addons installed any more. Part of the reason for this was that I, maybe as a minority, do like some of the UI graphics, like the default player and target frames, and the map itself. So I have tried to preserve as much of it as possible, not that its much mind you.

Wot now?

Put shortly: How should I know? I have been using the same addons for 6 months (for the newest one), so my UI is quite stable in that regard. Sometimes it does happen that addons get discontinued, but if you choose the old and popular addons, chances are that they wont. It isn’t so much a case of finding new addons as it is a case of streamlining how the UI works, what the addons do…it is shaping the flow of information itself, rather than changing the pipes.

For a more tangible prediction about the future: I’ll be taking a look at my addons again, as well as my UI as a whole.

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3 Responses to “The neverending story – addons”


  1. 01/12/2009 at 21:48

    A post about your UI is no good without a picture of said UI!

    I use Chatter myself and it’s far from eye candy. What it does is very subtle but hard to live without when you get used to it; the ability to use the mousewheel to scroll through the chat, sticky chat channels, the nice alert when someone says your name, setting main characters and so on. Eye candy? Yes, but so much more.

    And be happy with clicking. It works for you. Nuff said.

    • 2 Kihara
      04/12/2009 at 15:53

      I would normally have posted a screenshot of the UI, however due to real life circumstances I don’t have access to my PC.

      Chatter does indeed have useful functionality apart from its eye candy effect, and I agree that once you get used to it, it’s a nuisance when absent. I mainly classed it as eye candy since it was the main purpose that I installed it for back in the day, and since it is not strictly combat related.

      On the highlighting note, I usually have it turned off I have to admit, except for some of my alts where I haven’t bothered. Sure enough, when I was on an alt the other day I jumped in my chair when text suddenly popped up on my screen…forget about highlighting and get a right scare. Joy.


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