A New Look: Customizing the UI

I promised you guys a post a while ago, and it really has been a while, but I’ve been working hard. I do really have something big for you guys. It’s addons, and UI customization, and … all that sort of stuff. I’m going to jump straight in and give you a look at the end product, and then I’ll start describing how I got there.

First attempt at a complete UI

First attempt at a complete UI

Actually, that’s not quite how it looks at the moment, but I completely forgot about taking a screen-shot before the shutdown tonight, and I can’t get one now. It’s close enough for the time being.

First of all: Before you go poking at things, backup your current UI somewhere safe. Find your WoW directory, and make copies of the WTF and Interface folders. If things go pear-shaped on you, you can always go back to the saved copy.

The first thing you’ll notice is the big black box at the bottom. An addon called Skinner lets me create blank sections at the top and bottom of the screen like this. It does a whole lot of other stuff too, but I turned most of it off. I’ve split off a second chat window; the one on the left has all of the important stuff (guild chat, party/raid, and so on), and the one on the right has loot info, emotes, say and yell, and all of the trash channels like trade and general. The chat windows themselves are enhanced using Chatter, which is a great (and easy to set up) addon which lets you tweak all sorts of things about your chat windows. SexyMap, a wonderful minimap replacement, sits in the middle there, and has a range of different skins you can put on it. A nice feature is the way it lets you fade-out most of the minimap buttons unless you mouse-over it.

My character frame, sitting there to the left of the minimap, has since been moved up above the party frames, to where it normally is, and the party frames moved down a bit. Speaking of the frames, I use Pitbull to setup these custom frames. It takes a bit of setting up, but I think it’s worth it to replace the default frames. Over to the right of the minimap, I had my target and target-of-target frames, one above the other; I’ve since moved these up to the right of my player/party frames, although I’m starting to think it’s making the top of my playing field a bit cluttered. I’m still not sure about the best place for these. Oh, and moving those frames up top let me widen the chat frames right to the edge of the minimap, which makes them much easier to read. Going back to the party frames, to the immediate right of each party member, I have a frame showing their target. I have it set up to just show an icon, but you can get lots more information.

I use Pitbull for my basic and party frames, but I just can’t get over how concise Grid is, so my raid frames still use Grid. I use this for healing even in 5-mans, and all of my healing spells are bound to mouse clicks (or modifier+mouse clicks) using Clique. One warning with Clique: disable it for most of your frames, or you’ll find yourself casting a spell on someone when you wanted to right-click to access the drop-down menu. I keep Grid unlocked so I can drag it around: sometimes I find it great having it right next to my character, so I can see what’s going on around me and my healing targets without looking around too much; other times it’s annoying, and I want it more out of the way.

Two little bars to the right of my main action bar are provided by addons to XLoot: XLootMonitor and XLootGroup. XLoot itself replaces the default loot frame, XLootMonitor shows a nice graphical running summary of loot received, rolls, and so on, and XLootGroup replaces those annoying loot-roll frames with something less in your face.

My action bars are customized using Bartender. My main action bar is along the top, and it switches depending on my form. It also switches whenever I hold down control or alt. There are a bunch of extra (and very small!) vertical bars along the side, for all sorts of things that I want visible but not in my face. The bars on the left are actually the ones I get to using alt and control; it means I can monitor cooldowns on those without having to hit the modifier key.

Over on the right side of the playing field, you’ll see the obvious Omen and Recount. *Yawn*

Looking at the top and bottom of the screen, however, you’ll see an addon I’ve fallen in love with: Fubar. It lets you set up bars, and has all sorts of plugins to put on those bars. I couldn’t even begin to list all the awesomeness you can do with this; fire up your addon manager (I use WowMatrix) and type Fubar into the search box; you should see heaps of plugins. Some of my favourites are:

  • HeyFu keeps a history of whispers I’ve received. The info on the bar is how many whispers I’ve received since I last clicked on it; if I mouse-over, it shows me a summary of my current conversation, and right-clicking gives me access to my recent chat history in a cascading menu.
  • ItemRackFu. This basically just lets me move my ItemRack button from the minimap to a fubar.
  • LuckyCharms. This is a great one for tanks and raid leaders/assistants; it gives you all of the mob marker icons in a spot on the fubar, which you can just click to mark your current target. You can see this in the center of my top fubar.
  • FactionsFu shows me my current rep with any particular faction I select; mousing over it brings up a list of my rep with all factions.
  • DurabilityFu shows me my current gear durability level.
  • GarbageFu shows me my remaining bag space, and even better, I can shift-click it to drop the lowest-priced trash item in my bags.

Seriously, it just goes on and on. If you’ve never tried Fubar, you’re missing out.

Moving on to the stuff you can’t see. I’m using a bag replacement called Baggins: this is really tough to get used to, and I hated it for a while, but I persevered, and now I’m in love with it. Instead of showing you actual bag slots, it lets you set up all sorts of categories to display stuff under. Gear, reagents, consumables, quest items, and so on. You can categorize things in so many ways, and it works for your bank as well. One suggestion, which I found made it much easier to get used to the thing: don’t let it replace your bags (there’s a setting for that). Instead, I rebound ‘B’ to bring up Baggins; shift-B toggles my default blizzard bags, and control-B toggles my keyring. This let me use Baggins most of the time, but if I was in a hurry and couldn’t be bothered, I could still get to the normal ones. If you decide to try Baggins out, be prepared to be patient with it; I think it’s worth the effort, but it would have been easy to give up early on. Also, download LibPeriodicTable: it vastly improves the category system, and gives you access to your ItemRack/Outfitter/ClosetGnome equipment sets as categories.

I’m using Quartz to replace the blizzard cast bar; I don’t care too much about the look, I just wanted something I could move around. ItemRack is my current favourite gear-set manager, and I just couldn’t live without it. Druids, pallys, pretty much anyone who hangs onto different gear for different sets should be using it (or something similar). DragQueen is a gem: it lets me move most of the blizzard UI frames (like the spellbook, character page, and so on) around. Cartographer replaces the default map, !BugGrabber and BugSack tidy any UI errors away where they won’t bother me, and ACP lets me switch addons on and off without signing out (this makes setting your UI up so much easier). Finally, BadgeWatch reminds everyone in my raid to loot their emblems in heroics and raids (and bugs everyone in level 70 heroics, because they don’t care about badges anymore anyway).

There’s probably heaps more I could write. There are all sorts of tips and tricks I picked up while I was setting all of this up. This is quite enough for one night, though: if you decide to play with your UI, and run into trouble, drop me a question here and I’ll see if I can help. In the meantime,

Happy Druiding,


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  1. Zeno said,

    March 5, 2009 at 4:09 am

    do you really need skinner?
    you can change the worldframe with three lines of code :

    Assuming your ui-scale is at 1 : The following sets a 20pixel space at the top, and a 108pixel space at the bottom.




  2. Zeno said,

    March 5, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Some other things :

    since you’re using class-coloured health bars, do you really need to add clutter by having text that tells you this also?

    If you’re using grid for raids & parties….then turn off pitbulls party frames…its more cpu cycles you don’t need. specially since you’re a healer.

    I also loved fubar but now i love dockingstation & libDataBroker even more.
    I highly recomend getting rid of fubar and installing dockingstation instead.
    -> http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/info11831-DockingStationDisplay.html

    the plugins for libDataBroker type bars such as dockingstation are called brokers….and are far more efficient than their fu counterparts. i garuntee you there is a broker version for any fu plugin you have used.
    -> http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/search.php?search=broker

    fubar isnt maintained anymore, its bloated and not good for your cpu therefore not good for your frames-per-second peformance.

    Baggins & LibPeriodicTable
    Do you really need this ?
    LibPeriodicTable is quite a drain on the cpu for any addon that uses it.

    I find it more efficient to run bagnon and have all mybags shown as one bag…

    also, why do you need to see your keyring? any action in the game world that requires you to use them doesnt require you to open your keyring bag to use them.

    but in any case, bagnon has a keyring frame.

    use azcastbar instead, lighter movable, skinnable and also has a latency safezone on the castbar.

    blizzMove, again lighter

    I used to love this too ,specially back when shadowFiend benefitted from any attack power stats the priest had when you let it loose. I had a script for when that happend to equip a attackpower laden staff. ended up being like innervate.

    But, since i now no longer need all that , i use a macro based one instead…
    saleRack, again lighter.

    Cartographer (not maintained anymore)
    mapster : lighter and not prone to crashing the game like cart is.

    acp : love this because you can setup profiles that dictate which addons are on for a particular profile. I have one for questing, raid & non raid.

    bugsack & buggrabber : great choice. developers will love you for it.

  3. Zeno said,

    March 5, 2009 at 4:26 am

    if you like pitbull then I assume you are following the development of pitbull 4 which is far more cpu and memory efficient than pitbull3.

    it’s also far easier to setup.

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