Pssst! Want a l33t custom UI?
Like you, I would see screenshots of cool, custom user interfaces from time to time on the forum boards and think that it would be cool to have one like that. But it seemed like whenever you did some research into setting one up, even using a compilation, you had to be a WoW programmer to get them up and running, let alone keep them stable. I don’t know about you, but I want to spend my time playing, not messing around with my UI.
Well, a couple posts ago, when I was lamenting my add-on mess and you all recommended focusing on Ace add-ons and using the Ace updater (thank you again, btw), I came across a bunch of compilation packages on Curse. If you follow the link, bypass the “new today” and the “hot today” at the top of the page and sort by top rated a little further down. Seems many of the packages use Ace add-ons. Well, I started poking around and caught the bug again. This time when I read the install instructions, they seemed pretty simple. So I thought, “hey, maybe I’ll give this a try!”
I checked a couple out and looked at the screenshots of some of the more highly rated ones. I ended up liking ADUI (All Deuce UI). No particular reason, I just liked the way it looked, plus the fact that it was one of the top rated compilations.
Well, just like updaters, it seems that compilations have gotten a lot better. I downloaded ADUI, unzipped it, followed the install instructions and I was up and running with my new UI. And it looked pretty sweet.
Okay, it wasn’t quite as easy as that, but almost. I’m still sorting through some of the details, and I haven’t played with all the add-ons yet, but I can say that it’s a pretty painless way to get a great looking UI. Another side benefit is that the players that take the time to put together a compilation generally include the best add-ons in all categories and they seem to concentrate on Ace add-ons. So you get the best of the best, and you can keep them updated via the auto-updater.
Also, two add-ons in particular, AutoBar and Trinketmenu, provide you with action buttons not connected with your “official” action bars. I was close to running out of action bars in Bartender the way I have them setup, but with these two add-ons, I’ve been able to free up a lot of buttons.
I can’t speak for the other packages, but the ADUI developer has also included what he calls the Deuce Commander, a Fu-Bar plug in that gathers all the add-on control menus under one consolidate menu, by add-on category. Very nice. There’s also a little bolt attached to the mini-map you can use to bring up a similar control panel. It’s got a drop down with all the add-ons listed. Select the add-on you want to modify and up comes it’s graphical control panel. Very, very nice.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t downsides. You are messing with your UI and there can be consequences. Right off the bat, you start dealing with scaling issues since all the artwork in a particular compilation download is geared toward a specific screen resolution. Also, while you can backup your current Account and Interface folder should anything go wrong, you may have a lot of re-config time getting your compilation setup the exact way you want it. Also, since compilations tend to have lots of add-ons doing lots of things, it’s not always obvious what config you need to go into to tweak (or turn off). Sometimes, you can’t even figure out what’s doing what….
Well, I’m still tweaking and playing. In addition to the consolidated configuration menus listed above, there’s lots to like about ADUI including a great FAQ and forums for support. The add-ons included generally appear to be very good in their category. For example, inventory management is through ArkInventory. I had never used this particular add-on before and I must say it is great. This trend of using not the most well known add-on, but rather a more cutting-edge one continues by using Omen for threat management. Of course this cuts both ways as Omen is compatible with KLH which many of your guildmates are probably using, in that it can receive KLH data but that data gets unreliable past the first mob. So you need to decide for yourself how cutting edge you want to be. The good thing about a compilation though is that you can simply turn off any add-on you don’t want to use and replace it with another.
So how complicated is the install? Like I said, it was very simple. The install instructions, straight from the online forums, are:
- Step 1 = Download ADUI
- Step 2 = Make a ‘New Folder’ in your ‘My Documents’ called ADUI (or whatever you want).
- Step 3 = Place the Download into the Folder you just created.
- Step 4 = Open up your World of Warcraft Folder
- Step 5 = Rename your current Interface and WTF Folders (i.e. Interface_Backup, WTF_Backup)
- Step 6 = Move or Copy the Interface and Fonts Folders from ADUI to your World of Warcraft Folder.
- Step 7 = There are 3 WTF Folders, WTF_1400, WTF_1280, WTF_1680, in the downloadFind which folder which matches, or closely matches your screen resolution and delete the others.
Rename the Folder WTF.
Rename WTF\Account\”YourAccountNameHere” with the name of your account (make sure it’s all in caps)
Rename WTF\Account\Accountname\”YourServerHere” with the name of your server
Rename WTF\Account\Accountname\Servername\”YourCharacterNameHere” with th name of your character
Install the WTF and Interface Folders in your root WoW Directory
- Step 8 = Download and Use the WoWAceUpdater to update your mods!
That’s pretty much it. When you type in your account name make sure it’s all in caps. Also, if you are running 1024×768, like I am, then that download is in a forum post.
Now just log in and admire your new screen. Okay, it’s all messed up and your Bartender setup is hosed, but it does look nice, doesn’t it???
I’ll be posting following articles on this topic as I get more under the covers on this one. In fact, I’ve created a new category of “Custom UI” to keep track of them. For now, here’s some initial steps to do immediately to save you the time it took me to figure them out:
- First of all, after you install the package but before you run the Ace Updater for the first time, be sure to disable auto-updating of both AutoBar and AutoBar Config (find them in the installed list, right-click, and ignore). The developer of AutoBar is recoding it from the ground up under the same name. So if you update it, it basically becomes unusable. Download and install the old version.
- Type /ttip to change the text scale for tooltips if they are too small.
- Re-configure SCD. The developer has a LOT of notifications turned on and they were very distracting.
- Check out the Common Problems FAQ on the ADUI site. It’s got answers to the top 20 or so n00b problems and will save you a lot of time and research up front.
- Probably the next thing to do is reconfigure your action bars. Surprisingly, all my buttons were still configured, but I had to do a lot of work resizing and moving the bars to get it to fit where I wanted.
- Do your guildmates a favor and make sure to configure your party and raid frames before actually joining a party or raid. Your frame add-on probably just got replaced (or at the very least, updated), and odds are your frames need re-setup. Have a fellow guildie or two /i or /ri you to a group when they have some time to kill so you can set up.
My final analysis? It’s easy to say installing and configuring a custom UI is a lot of busy work just to make your screen look prettier, and there certainly is a fair amount of work involved in reconfiguring. However, the compilations out today pull together the best of the best add-ons and picking a package focused on Ace modules makes it trivial to keep them up to date with the WoW Ace Updater. In the end it’s not just about a pretty screen, it’s about functionality, usability, and maintainability, which these packages deliver. Should we hate them if they’re pretty?
I had planned on posting before and after screenshots of my setup. As I am getting ready to leave for a few days out of town, I’m posting this for you to chew on, and I’ll continue the series with screenshots when I get back. I’m sure everyone would also love to hear your experiences, good or bad, with compilation packages; especially if you have Druid-specific setups.