UIs have been a busy topic on the guild forum lately, prompted in part by the gross lag in Naxxramas. Minimalism is the hot new trend. Every bit of mod clutter you get rid of is, ostensibly, a little less you’ll be asking from your computer when it’s trying to process Thaddius charges.
My general philosophy on mods is simply that they’re good. If you don’t want to use them (beyond the three required by my guild) then fine, but I think you’re crippling yourself. Would I heal poorly if my UI suddenly defaulted back to the basics? Absolutely. I would also perform poorly if my N52 game pad stopped working, or my keyboard macros disappeared. Hell, I would have problems if my in-game macros disappeared too. So what? I use all the tools available to me to hone my game, and I admit to being baffled when others refuse to do the same.
Anyway, enough on the philosophy of mods. Let’s get on to the actual screenie, shall we? Here we are wiping on Sarth 2D (click for full screen version):
The big mods used here are pretty much the standard: Grid for raid frames, Pitbull for unit frames, Dominos for button bars, oRA2 for intra-raid communication. I not only participate in raids, I sometimes lead them, so I need a bit of additional information. A good example of this is the tiny “Cooldowns” window on the far right. This is an oRA2 feature, and shows timers for things like battle rezzes and soulstones.
So much happens in that tiny chat window. You talk to your guild, window shop Trade Channel, whisper friends, communicate with your party or raid, and get status updates. So why not make it more attractive and efficient. I use Fane to change the chat window tabs because.. they just look so much better. Chat Timestamp lets me know exactly when someone said something (handy for those times when I’m half-afk), and PhanxChat adds all the little extra features, like mousewheel scrolling, shortened channel names, and hiding the side buttons.
So, okay, Pitbull 3 is not exactly a paragon of minimalism. True to its name, it is in fact a bit of a dog. I like all the options, however, and although I am looking for a suitable low-memory replacement, I haven’t really liked anything else I’ve tried. I’m picky about my user frames. The health bar must be large and ideally change color if my target’s health is at critically low levels. The mana bar should be bright blue. I need to see debuffs on my target. One funky thing I did a while back is use this DogTag code to monitor the raid debuffs on the Target of Target (for a healer, usually the boss). This is pretty out of date now — “Why isn’t CoS up!!” — but an updated version is very helpful when working on a new boss.
I have approximately 18,000 buffs during a raid now, and they all had to fit somewhere. Enter Buffalo, which makes all my personal buffs and debuffs nice and tiny, to the right of the chat window. There are a few things you want to take special notice of, though, such as Surge of Light procs or Loatheb’s healing inhibitor. For those I use ClassTimer, which you see on the top right of my own user frame.
I use a number of little mods to just present information in a more efficient manner. For example, StatBlock provides the framework for the line of data at the bottom of my screen. Livestock is an awesome mod that not only makes sure you always have a pet out, but also manages a smart macro for your mounts, selecting random ground or air mounts as appropriate. OverAchiever improves the achievement interface and adds relevant details to your tooltips, such as whether a critter needs a little /love. Reputation Montior prints out a detailed little report in the chat window every time you gain rep, reminding me how much I need still for the next level, and how much I’ve gathered so far in one session. Oh, and for bags I just started using the lightweight Combuctor, and it’s rad.
Basically my UI design principle is that as a healer and occasional raid leader I need to see everything in an organized fashion, but still have lots of screen space available to keep myself from standing in the fire.