The ultimate World of Warcraft UI thread
You might be an old pro, looking to find a way to automate or otherwise ease the daily chore that is WoW. Or you may be a new player, wondering why all of these people have such funny/cool/retarded-looking actionbars. Both are accomplished through the use of two things: Macros and Addons.
- Macros consist of small, in-game strings of code that can range from the simple (such as /target Ragnaros, /wave) to the ridiculously complex (such as /script if(QUEST_FADING_ENABLE) then QUEST_FADING_ENABLE = nil; message("Fast Quest Text Enabled") else QUEST_FADING_ENABLE =1; message("Fast Quest Text Disabled") end). Each Macro has a default 255-character limit, and each of your WoW Characters have a default pool of 36 Macros to choose from--18 General Macros shared by all, and 18 Character-Specific Macros.
- Addons are essentially very large Macros, which are contained outside of the game itself and loaded into memory upon logging in your characters. All Addons are written in the LUA language, with some of them drawing on XML. Some Addons come with additional artwork and textures, to further customize one's interface. Some are unnecessary, when a Macro might do the same thing just as effectively. Some are bloated pieces of shit--there are a vast amount of Addons available, ranging from completely overhauling packages (such as PhotekUI or MazzleUI), to small tweaks (such as QuestLevels). Generally speaking, the mark of a quality addon will be how it is written, not necessarily what it does.
First up, let's talk Addons.Addons: that which doesn't kill you(r framerate) will only make you stronger
Everything under the sun has an addon for it nowadays--want a customized timer to know when your totems will expire? Lots of Addons for that. Don't like the tiny nature of the built-in Enemy Casting Bar? Plenty of Addons for that, too. Floating Combat Text sucks balls? Yes, more of those. In fact, most areas of the game have multiple
available Addons to choose from.But wait, I don't know the first thing about Addons. Where do they go?
OK, that's good to know. But what about my settings? How can I move them from character to character?
The vast majorty of Addons come downloaded off of the internet in a *.ZIP file, which can be unpacked using your favorite software (or Windows Explorer). Inside said *.ZIP file is a folder, or a set of folders--these go into the "...\Interface\Addons" folder, found in the main WoW folder. So, if I were to wish to install SpeakEasyGUI so's I can get my RP on, I would place the contents of the SpeakEasyGUI *.ZIP file here:
- C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Addons
Subsiquently, all of the files needed for SpeakEasyGUI would now be contained here:
- C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Addons\SpeakEasyGUI
That is the long-and-short of it. Some Addons might include multiple folders, such as AutoBar: there is the AutoBar folder, and then there's the AutoBarConfig folder (the current record-holder is Cartographer, with around 25-30 separate folders for a full installation). In any case, all such folders go in the same place:
Hey waitdaminnit... I have a Mac!
- C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Addons
Hey waitdaminnit!... I have Vista/Win7 and you're full of shit!
To install addons, go to Finder > Applications > World of Warcraft > Interface > Addons > *drag files here*
Not necessarily. The WoW installer handles things a little differently, and if you've done a fresh install then you'll find your folder in C:\Users\Public\Games\World of Warcraft. Of course, if it was a Win 7 upgrade chances are that the WoW folder is still in Program Files.
Easy peasy. In Windows, every Addon setting is saved under the WTF folder found in your WoW folder. Typically, it looks something like C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\WTF\[ACCOUNT NAME]\[SERVER NAME\[CHARACTER NAME].
Say I spend all afternoon making a sweet UI on my character "Killsurmom." Looks good and all, but now my alt "Stabbinulol" needs the same treatment. All I'd need to do is go into the WTF folder, copy the entire contents of the Killsurmom folder into the Stabbinulol folder and it's all set.
One caveat, though:
Just something to keep in mind that if you copy over the macros-cache file along with everything else, you will end up with a bunch of Killsurmom's macros on Stabbinulol's bars. Probably safer to leave that one out, because macros are saved server side too.
Note that there are a couple of extra steps in some cases. I've noticed that at times the chatframe settings won't properly adjust, in which case copying the "chat-cache.txt" file over a second time usually does the trick.
And some Addons make use of profiles. Profiles are nice if you'd like an Addon to do a specific thing for certain classes or characters, but it also means that copying their WTF information won't load your settings in the way that other Addons will. If you do a WTF copy and you find that certain Addons aren't configured correctly upon logging in, try opening their respective menus and see if there's an option for profiles.
When dealing with profiles, it's always easiest to set them up when configuring your UI initially. Go through and decide which ones will be the same for all characters (setting these profiles to "Default" is the easiest) and which will be class-based.
One handy thing to note: if you have some Addons on a class-based profile, you can copy the profile from one class to another, saving yourself a lot of re-configuration.Are we ready to move on, now?
If not, send me a PM or ask in yon thread.
So where does one get these things? The most common method is through various internet repositories, specializing in WoW Addons, Macros and the discussions thereof.
Hold up there, cochise. Read the disclaimer first.
Considered the best site by many (myself included), WowInterface is quick, clean and well-designed. Most Addons hosted here are frequently kept up-to-date by their authors, and their site admins will move discontinued/outdated Addons into a special category (allowing you to confirm if your favorite Addons from days past are dead, or giving you the choice to take up the reins in the original author's stead). Recently-updated addons have a color-coded tag, and those compatible with the latest patch are also tagged as such. Overall, it's a good place to go first.
Formerly Curse-Gaming.com, this site is another popular choice, albeit not quite as nice as WowInterface in my opinion. It's lacking a few categories that WowInterface has, and it doesn't seem quite as intuitive. Additionally, it seems that the Addons listed here are not quite as up-to-date; this is not the fault of the site, but the authors. Still, it does have a large volume of Addons, some of which which you may not be able to find elsewhere.
Another UI site, this one having a bit of a troublesome layout. It's main advantage is the extensive Macro section, which other sites tend to lack.
Ahh, the Ace empire. Here is where the most up-to-date Ace Addons are found, including a handy forum for Addon support. Many of these can be found elsewhere, but this site contains the latest release version (if available--some Addons are in a perpetual Beta state), as well as all previous Beta versions. More about Ace later on.
Before you go gallavanting off to various UI sites and downloading everything under the sun, note that there are some dangerous elements involved. Both Curse.com and WoWUI.Incgamers.com have in the past been caught sneaking malicious ActiveX scripts into their sites, and WoWInterface.com recently had two malicious Addons uploaded to their site. As far as I know, Curse and Incgamers have since amended their issues (though they were tremendous assholes about it), and WoWInterface removed the offending addons within minutes of discovery. So a few general pointers to remember:
A quick note about this whole Ace thing
- Never run any kind of script from these websites, ever. That goes for a lot of the Internet in general, but if you find that you can't download a file without allowing a script first, go to another site.
- Never run any kind of executable. Addons consist entirely of text--there is no way for one to infect your computer with a trojan or keylogger on its own. However, an executable (i.e., *.EXE file) has that capacity, and people have been burned in the past. This goes for Installation/Update programs--WoWUI.Incgamers and Curse provide an optional Updater program that one can use as a one-click tool. Use any and all of these programs at your own risk.
- For god's sake, run spyware & virus scans every week. This is good practice, regardless. There are a bevvy of programs out there that will handle this. H/A or Accumulated Forum Knowledge should have some reccommendations.
Ace came about sometime late in 2006, with a slew of "lightweight, modular" addons. Presumably a group of authors got together an decided that writing a number of libraries stacked full of basic functions would allow the addons themselves to be written smaller and more efficiently. Problem is, that library is still being loaded into memory, so the whole point is a little moot. Saeris can expound on the matter better than I can, but it really boils down to how well the addon itself is written. No amount of super-detailed framework can make up for a poorly-coded mess.
Most people have figured out the Ace ruse by now, but there's still some out there that believe the hype. Ace addons are not
inherently more "lightweight," as that still depends on the quality of the written code. The only valid reason to stick with Ace addons is the uniform aesthetics you get from them.