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Partly because it’s useful to me to have these things stored away somewhere safe for future use and partly because I have to believe someone else is interested in OCD-level love for tidy UI setups, here’s the latest new look for the new continent.

Although updated at first, SpartanUI fell out of working order when a new version of Bartender4 came out and hasn’t been touched since, leaving my bar positions to get reset to a default whenever I logged in or changed zone. Can’t really blame the developers, there’s Northrend to explore and levelling to 80 to get done, no-one gets slapped wrists from me at least for putting add-on management lower down on the list of priorities.

Stripping away the Spartan and using a self-modified Bartender layout together with a tip-off from BRK‘s list of add-on links for SexyMap, I have something even more clutter free than before. And with scrumptious rotating runes around the map, it’s all very pretty.

Two things I really miss from Spartan: The pressing Y to toggle the size of the main chat window and the AFK SpinCam. Every cake needs sprinkles and I can’t help but feel that I’m missing out on a few candied hearts and flowers there.

Time for another episode of “Let’s Have A Look At Your UI, Then”!

Finally. Finally. And thrice, finally, SpartanUI has been given some update lovin’ by Ansu and, it seems, his newly acquired minions. Given that the buff-displaying shortfalls of the original v2 caused me to delve into the wonders of Satrina’s Buff and Unit Frames, the most pleasing new feature is the ability to turn off the display of party portraits and vital stats at the bottom of the screen.

The Unit Frames have since been replaced by X-Perl for the extra prettiness (and, let’s be honest, clearer visibility of my own mob debuffs) so Spartan’s repeated information isn’t needed. Seriously, I was going to write a forum post asking if such a thing was possible to implement, but turned out to be giddy like a pig on smack to find I didn’t need to.

A blood elf mage just isn't ready for this jelly. Arrows are too hurtylicious.

Sadly, for some reason which I expect is a good one but haven’t bothered to find out about, the tall quest and crafting logs of Old Spartan have gone and, quite by surprise, I was thrust back into the long-forgotten world of the default WoW, 640×480 offchance editions. I’m still dabbling with replacements as I can’t seem to find DoubleWide any more although Bayi’s Extended Questlog is okay, I suppose… Skillet on the other hand needs replacing for the overcomplicating nature of bells ‘n’ whistles extraneous to my requirements.

Okay, so the grand dream of clearing up screen space that Spartan offered has, by personal preference, been lost but it’s always been the tidy layout and the action bars that I’ve liked it most for. That’s still safe! The current quandary concerns the whole-raid health bars in the bottom-right quarter. Do I need really need them? Really really? I think they’ll be disabled soon.

Coming in as part of a mass WoW Matrix add-on update was the x-Perl HUD display, not nearly pretty enough for my likings and prompting a fun encounter with MetaHUD in the centre there. A fancy throwback to the heady days of Top Gun and surprisingly useful for keeping the health of myself and my target not too far away from Omen which, come raid-time, needs to be constantly monitored (yes, the warnings are off). Plus, a minor shift of the scroll areas for MSBT means that all the stuff I might ever need to know (save for, perhaps, the colour of the off-tank’s pants) beautifully hugs the parentheses I’m now regularly encased in, which is nicely understated I think. It’s like, oh, by the way, there’s me as well. Brackets are the new black this autumn.

Now sit back, grab yourself a drink and watch it all crumble like a house of cards when Lich King arrives and inexplicably changes everything.

When I first installed Satrina Buff Frames it’s main purpose was to patch over the shortcomings of the otherwise very pretty SpartanUI, putting the buffs back in the top corner of the screen instead of making my eyes bleed trying to squint at the tiny space given to them by the fancy all-in-one-combined action bar. Any thoughts of what else it could do were immediately ignored and, to be frank, considered strange, alien and scary; separate frames, filters, lions, tigers and bears? Oh my!

But nothing breaks through that comfort zone like an emerging problem, this being that when tanking an instance, it’s very easy to lose my standard three druid buffs amongst the milieu of others bestowed upon me by my team-mates. I need to know, at a glance, exactly where I stand with Thorns and Omen of Clarity particularly, and when my Gift of the Wild runs out, then I know everyone else’s has as well.

Currently I had the default two frames, one for buffs and one for debuffs. A third frame was created and filters dropped in to show any buffs containing the strings “of the wild”, “thorns” and “omen of clarity” (using the suffix “3:n~”). Since I know it will be just these buffs, I could limit the number of buffs shown to four (three wasn’t an option) and have them displayed as tidy bars with a width of 200px, and lo:

Instant visual gratification, all kept tidily in the top corner of the screen! Lightly garnish with disabling the buffs from being shown in frame one in the Spells tab, and never again may I start on clouting a pack of mobs only to realise that Thorns expired some time ago.

Satrinas Buffs Frames. It’s what’s for dinner!

(edit: on writing this i thought “hey, what about aspect of the wild? eh?” and so the filters have been modified so that any nature-concerned hunters I may travel with don’t mess up my tidy bars) :p

Tab-selecting, oh how I wish it worked sometimes, maybe a little more predictable in its operation and a little less… unpredictable. Skills, gear and organisation are all good things, but tab-selecting can be a raid killer!

So I had an idea for an add-on, but with no abilities to actually make it, it shall remain just an idea unless, of course, something like it already exists. I’ve had a brief scout around wow.curse.com but found nothing like it.

So here it is, and I’m choosing the name KillOrder, whereby the raid leader (or head-marking person) sets the kill order as they usually would, but then this order appears as a visual bar on the screen to all other party members. Then, tab-selecting cycles through the agreed order in turn, wheresoe’er they may be. All I’m saying here is that, as a ranged class, when a mob is surrounded by any number of melee-types, any other sort of targeting is both difficult and impossible.

Maybe it could also allow keys to be bound to individual symbols. I press “T” and I instantly target the mob I’m charged with the job of trapping, press it again and we go to the current kill priority.

To the clever peoples who can actually do this sort of thing, you’re welcome to my fantastic idea! :)

(picture by sota767 and shared under a Creative Commons license)

Having a levelling hunter at the same time as one that is all growed-up, I’ve been tripped up too many times by not having everything on the same button. I’m used to where things are so much that I still press 4 for Kill Command on every critical strike despite being about forty levels away from actually getting it for Joot.

So I’m popping this here, to be able to synchronise both hunter’s action bars. A few explanatory tooltips have been added in case of any perverse interest from the few people that swing by here. Hi y’alls! I love you!

Does anyone else like to see other people’s UI set-up? It’s like bookcases, I love looking at other people’s bookcases. Along with hundreds of other forms of storage, it’s a testament to the inherent uniqueness of everybody in a world that wants everybody to think everybody else is the same. Ahem. The main action bar bit at the bottom is SpartanUI, isn’t it beautiful? Yes it has flaws but, hey, beauty without flaws isn’t beauty!

SpartanUI, despite it’s unnecessarily unhelpful points, continues to stick around although it’s helped a lot by a couple of add-ons take the strain of the jobs that are sadly lacking. Namely Satrina Buff Frames and AzCastBar, they cheerfully make two of the features that Spartan boasts, oh, what’s the word, visible. When you’re fighting a raid boss, “At-a-glance” is your best friend!

And so, my personal buffs and debuffs are back at the top of the screen, getting in the way of no-one and squeezing a steady shot between auto shots now no longer requires the danger of “square eyes from sitting too close to the telly”.

And hurray! I finally saved up my hundred badges for a Scaled Drakeskin Chestguard! Trouble is, as compared to Hauberk of the War Bringer, it’s not quite the upgrade I expected. It turns out that the high-falutin’ reports from RatingBuster were not counting the gems. Hauberk has three sockets, Drakeskin just the one. Boo! Yes, it’s still an upgrade but is, at best, negilgible. The kind of upgrade that is worth the work put into gathering a hundred badges? Perhaps… not. Sometimes I make bad choices.

It looks better! So it was badges well spent then.

(photograph by The Adventures of Kristin & Adam and shared under a Creative Commons license)

SpartanUI v2 is finally out with all rewritten code and it’s lovely, all that once occupied all four corners of the screen is kept tidily at the bottom leaving a glorious wide-open space of world-view to enjoy. It has, however, a few annoyances that are par for the course with any beta.

Let’s start with the personal buffs bar. Currently shown as a tiny space between my own and pet’s portrait (can you see it? Squint a little, it is there), it has about enough space for about eight buffs, no sign of any remaining duration and any that don’t fit into the area are just… not shown. I’m reliably informed that it’s possible to move the buffs to their usual place in the top-right of the screen and, I’ll be honest, this is where I want them. In fact, the same reliable informer tells me it’s possible to move anything anywhere you damn well please, although exactly how to do this is not made entirely clear, not in the Bartender3 menu, nor any supporting documentation files within the ZIP.

A similar buff-bar is shown above the currently targeted mob’s portrait which would be acceptable, except that no debuffs I place on any mob are currently shown at all. Wing clip, serpent sting, immolation trap, nothing, I’d be completely in the dark were it not for Kharthus’ Hunter Timers.

Prompting the question, “Hey, did any hunters at all make their way onto the private testing list?”, when activated, the mend pet icon appears, wait for it, right over my pet’s health percentage. That’s, like, obtusely inconvenient, especially when I can’t see her health bar anyway! Also completely invisible: The latency bar. Look at the space available at the bottom-left of the mini-map, that would be a perfect place to put a pretty, countersunk circle of either green, yellow or red.

Wrapping up the cons, it seems that when summoning or reviving my pet she has an invisible health bar which is no end of stress, and finally, it has major problems working with DoubleWide for the quest log. The height-boosted one it comes with is better than Blizzard’s and works well for crafting windows but doesn’t quite trump DoubleWide for easy-quest reading. Okay, this is essentially nitpicking while I’m on the negative flow, I’ll live with it.

On the plus side, the extra bar space has removed my need for my long-standing add-on favourite NumPadBar, Recount fits nice and snug into the blank space to the bottom left and, particularly impressive since it’s something I’ve wanted to have for a long time, a key-bindable function to toggle the size of the chat window. No more will I have troubles keeping up with what people are saying between fights in raids or instances, a quick press of “Y” and I get four times the space in glorious TallVision(tm), press it again and we’re back to the original size and ready to shoot stuff. This, it has to said, is a deal-breaker.

Also welcomed with a loud “Elune be praised!”, the directional arrows and North indicator on the mini-map are pushed in from the edge just a little bit. It doesn’t sound like much, granted, but with the growing number of add-on icons and other flulff also making a home around my map, travelling in certain directions it had become nigh-on impossible to know exactly where north was, leading to a strong case of Quickly Check The Main Map To Find Out That I’m Actually Travelling In The Opposite Direction syndrome.

More for the “It’s The Little Things That Count The Most” file, when you go AFK the camera smoothly pans around your character, takin’ in the surroundings while you’re off doing something probably less productive, and the reputation bar shows whatever faction you last gained rep for, no more manually changing it when grinding for the love and appreciation of various groups.

Biggest plus of all, well, just look at it. Compact, neat, tidy and lovable enough to stick around. Okay, it’s still a beta, give it time, just let me get my buffs somewhere visible again. One thumb up with the other safely in the post for after the mini bug fixes.

Well, the guild website idea fell flat on it’s face when, understandably, members weren’t too keen on the idea of having to check a site every day outside of the game. Something that takes place live, in the game, as it’s performed is required and, as luck would have it, I downloaded GroupCalendar spookily while listening to the Epic Dolls podcast that would go on to also give it a mention just ten minutes later and begin to throw mad props at it. Hardly surprising because it’s… it’s just wonderful, and daddy I love him! And here’s why:

1. All events, be them raids, instances, birthdays, meetings or whatever can be created, viewed, signed up to and populated entirely from one neat and tidy menu. This one is obvious, that’s what the add-on does. True, all members of the guild that intend to use it need to also have it on but, come on, do you want to come to the raids and earn DKP? Do you want to do it here or be forced to live in blissful ignorance or go to a clunky website? It’s a small price to pay.

2. It automatically shows days when raids reset and also, much to my unrestrained glee, when my transmute cooldown timer is up. One can only assume other cooldowns are supported.

3. It turns the otherwise useless day/night indicator on the minimap to a super-cool analogue clock showing the server time and, on mouseover, local time.

4. All people signed up to a raid can be automatically invited to a group with the click of a button.

5. Only need a certain number of a particular class in the group? Well you can set a limit on that. Evil use potential for administrators: Limit the number of your class to just one and sign up, filling the slot and thereby eliminating any competition on the rolls, bu-ha-ha-ha! Of course, I would never do that. *twitch*.

And probably some other things that I haven’t even noticed yet. Did we mention the clock, the analogue clock? That’s a little touch of smartness that people deserve in their lives. GroupCalendar, you win your weight in tasty biscuits.

Aaah, back in my younger WoW days, when I was first getting to grips with the possibility of enhancing the game with various third-party add-ons, a friend warned me of the dangers inherent with becoming over-reliant on them because, as is always inevitable, when new patches come out and certain add-ons that have fallen by the wayside don’t get updated you are, in a word, scuppered. “Psh!” I retorted, for I was young and naive and the world, it seemed, was one where nothing could go wrong. Ah, those halcyon days when the words “Patch 2.4” were the stuff of a madman’s dreams. Lo, tis only in retrospect do we realise that time marcheth too fast. Ahem.

With echoes of Cleese and Palin, Parrot, my erstwhile scrolling combat text has ceased to be, bereft of life, rests in peace, choir invisible, etc. This has been replaced with MikScrollingBattleText which is working very well, thank you. On the plus side it records damage taken by my pet and scrolls it neatly down the left of my character, which I never managed to get Parrot to do and I’m pretty sure I at least had a little dip into the options to see if it was possible. It also has an extra scroll area for messages such as finished cooldowns and mob warnings (f’r ex’mple, “The Aether Ray appears to be ready to be wrangled!” is a handy reminder to pull my cat back so she doesn’t accidentally kill the thing while I’m trying to sling a rope around it’s neck).

Points are lost to Parrot for the lack of detailed loot information, like picking a herb would tell me how many I’d just looted and then, in brackets, how many I have in total, handy for filling quotas. Also the default font settings had to go, replaced by something a little cleaner and crisper and, I’m going to say it, less “fun” looking. Hey! I’m having fun already, I don’t need a wacky font to keep my interest!

DamageMeters was getting a bad reputation anyway for the constant difference between my results and those of other party members. The very suggestion that I was 3rd in the damage charts when the data I had claimed my position to be more like 1st! I mean, the nerve! Out with the old, in with the new, please welcome Recount. I have yet to run adequate tests in a party situation, but gets brownie points straight away for the nice graphs and pie-charts it can produce. Piecharts! I’m not sure if these can be exported to PowerPoint for slides to use at the next bi-monthly Avenging Angels board meeting, but it’s a nice addition. “And, as you can see, DPS is up on last month, good work on earning your annual bonus, people!”.

The major downside, however, is I can’t seem to see any way of being able to resize the window. When measuring regular cumulative damage over several fights, it tries to squeeze rank number, name, overall damage, dps and a percentage of total into it’s blood elf-thin sliver of space. What this means is, basically, little room for anything least of all the party member’s name. Boo! I shall keep dabbling while enjoying the on-the-fly DPS graph for no reason other than your above-average whistle ‘n’ bell fanciness.

Omen. Ooh. Well, to be honest, I’ve grown to like it. With the classic skin mode to get rid of the huge icons, it’s more compact and lovely. Also I can’t remember if this used to be an option but the “Grow Up” mode means I can keep the window aligned to the right of my bottom action bar and it’s only ever as big as it needs to be. Yay! Omen, you may resume access to the cookie jar.

Interface, work in progress

Because living on the edge is what I do (all the time) I didn’t stop there! Heavens, no! The time had come to expand my macro-box in an attempt to clear up my action bars. Using almost exclusively macros with [modifier:x] conditions, I grouped various abilities together (like Volley with Flare, various oft-used tracking skills in one button and a pet-lovin’ button called simply “TLC”). This left room to finally get my mounts bound to keys which I’ve been meaning to do for ages but, well, I was just so busy killing things, and space left over for maybe the possibly of target buttons for raid icons. I want to be able to press F10 to target the blue square (my favourite “trap this!” icon) and with a simple jab of F7 switch to the skull, leaving the erratic tab-selecting far behind me. I do not know how to do this yet though.

And to finish the triumvirate of tweaks to my game, I decided to drop the 3% extra damage bonus and Hawk Eye from the Survival talent tree and instead use them to fill up Go For The Throat as well as introducing a maxed-out Mortal Shots to the active elements of my Marksmanship spec, giving me a giddy 30% extra damage bonus to critical strikes. Lawks-a-lordy, have a banana, was it worth the 35g charge to move six points about though? I can only hope so.

Final bit of news in this busiest of days, the fishing daily quest came up trumps with a Weather-Beaten Fishing Hat. Yay! My days of farming with my rogue engineer or plain, outright shopping for Aquadynamic Fish Attractors are over! One click of my fishing garb button on Outfitter and I’m all dressed up and ready to go!

(Oh, and the April Fools gags? I was ready for them all, for once I woke up knowing the date. Bard hero class was very funny, as was the console Molten Core, but a little obviously April Fool, no? Maybe. How about a news post saying that instead of raising the monthly fees, the difficult decision to make WoW ad-supported has been taken. Grab popcorn and watch the uproar! And as for the BBC, they reported that America was heading for a major depression. HA! America, there’s no such place! Try again, peoples!)
(photo montage by apesara and is shared under a Creative Commons license)
June 2017
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