Tag Archives: User Interface

Simple Destruction Warlock Weak Auras

Cynwise - Weak Aura Configuration - Feb 2013

Feb 2013 UI with Weak Aura Configuration – click to embiggen!

Possibly the biggest change I made when warlocks were revamped in Mists of Pandaria was to throw out my keybinds. That one decision to jettison what I knew about the class and start over allowed me to dramatically change my UI, because it had been built up to support a very specific keybind structure. It allowed me to move away from the Cast Keyboard / Move Mouse style I’d gotten trained into (I now use a more traditional ESDF layout with the Naga) and simplify things considerably. It also made me look at what the default UI could and couldn’t do, and that in turn led me to try out Weak Auras, a really powerful addon and the replacement for Power Auras.

Auras are already part of the default UI – different classes will have event procs display as a graphic that shows up on the screen to let the player know that an ability is usable, or the mana cost is free, or some benefit is available. Weak Auras allows you to customize auras beyond the default. It’s a little tricky to set up at first, but if you take your time and are clear about your requirements then it’s no harder than Need to Know.

My own setup is relatively simple in concept – use a series of spinning concentric circles to alert me to certain powerful spells becoming available. I didn’t want to track every buff or action, but I did want to give myself some kind of visual prompt to take immediate action. Shadowburn, for instance, is an extremely powerful execute spell that Destro locks should use whenever it’s available, which is when the target is below 20% health and you have a Burning Ember to spend. The problem with the default UI is that the button doesn’t light up when you can cast it (unlike Execute or other similar spells) – it just becomes quietly castable. Adding an Aura to let me know that it’s up allows me to cast it more often.

The big circles in my UI shot above are for my target, while the smaller ones above my character’s head are for my focus target. They circle around.

  • The big purple circles are Shadowburn. I wanted something really big and visible since effectively using Shadowburn in PvP allows you to get your opponents down much much faster. Most people don’t get up from a Shadowburn.
  • Moving in, the yellow circle is Conflagrate. In PvE you might cast Conflag on CD, but I do like to save it for the snare effect in PvP. I found that I wouldn’t always look and see if Conflag was up before trying to cast it (instead of Fel Flame), so this aura provides a reliable way for me to know which instant to spam.
  • The inner orange circle is Immolate. This aura just tells me if Immolate is on the target or not. Immolate is not a must-have DoT anymore, but this is a convenient way for me to know if I am applying pressure at a moment’s glance or not. If I were to trim anything, it would be this one.
  • The upper purple circle is Shadowburn again, but on my focus. Visual consistency is important, but so is knowing if my focus target is able to be shadowburned or not.
  • The evil looking eyes are letting me know that Havoc is available to cast on my focus. I use a simple macro which sends Havoc to my focus if one is selected, or to my target if I have no focus. This aura helps me know that I’m all set and ready to wreak havoc.

This provides a relatively simple alerting system for Destruction Warlocks that covers my bases. If I were playing more PvE, I might add in a Backdraft Proc tracker to let me know that I should cast Incinerate instead of Chaos Bolt. I’m also experimenting with a Dark Bargain/Unending Resolve series of auras to let me know to when DB is about to fall off so I can cast Unending Resolve to lessen incoming damage, but I’m not sure that I really want that one right now. There are also some buff reminders I should put up (make sure Dark Intent is on, remind when pet is dead and no corresponding buff available, etc.) but that’s a project for another day.

One of the nice elements of Weak Auras is that it allows you to export settings to share with others, which I’ve done below. These strings – and they’re messy and long – can be copy and pasted into Weak Auras so you can get the exact aura someone uses, either to use out of the box or customize to your desired effect. I’ve included these strings below.

Enjoy!

Shadowburn Target

d0dReaGAjH6LsHAxiu2MKKzIqAUivnBj(nQ6MsHCBP03eXPfStQYEj7Mk7xsq)usi)vughs58uvzOivAWuvvgUuDqkQxtr6yiQJtvv1cPQSueKflfTCv9qeupfSmH0ZvzIsIAQOYKfvth6IscCvQQsxw56uAJiv8yHAZskBxs13Lc(QKitJIyEiu9zkCyugnsgVKuNKQQ4wiqxtKUhc4ziYWeIZHqSilobTcYfKlobX8f(xCYJSOdTQsjrKK0KutsttJKqw1iykj5fv0XeArirJerQks00O0sJst1iyAQ8ij6qlkPiKJKKMAcjsKjsvPQgbtjjuG1HFWWyV4eyVLD9vkES2jFcSUakazVXqbxFLIhRDYJCcTKeHc(ze4DC(1NaCvJ2FcAwMlVr85tG5kxzb5HRITUymuFQPaCvJ2Fc8hhUVglE0BopN3D0xPXm1S9zh90LVH9MTp7A0Ydm6nBF2rVz7ZIstalppGbEhRKHFWWy)jo5rwCcWpyySxCcq)6tWHm0EcS3YOgRGuQPa7TmK9gdj08FB4xU8j4Snx95qWwRwOAbze2mWLbCMjeNG((45qQXkiLGOreS6ZHcmhJbExf6F(7XAwMGZ2C1NdP7VAHQfa0TcikrfyDbuaYEJHcS3YU(kfpw7Kpbw3QphkGzrEb2BzwxaLpbuJvqQm((EgY)ciobeyVL13hphsnwbPKpb99XZHuJvqQm((EgY)ciobeC9vkES2jpYj0ssekW6WpyySxCcU(kfpw7Kh5eAjjcSUakazVXqHcfkiKlaOy58n00(obmxOLHbEN4eCi7rXjO)7gk4O(GZuHcAzbN4eG(1NG(VBOG(VBOGNhz4iCHp20gc3ekOwWfokXjO)7gk4O(GZuHcfGFWWyV4eKBFgg4DcQsa6xFcoKH2tqS9q(2m0V(eCidTNGRVsXJ1o5roHwsIG((45qQXkiLGOreyDbuaYEJHcSUvFouagAxUa7TSRVsXJ1o5tG9wM1fq5tqm1InvWQphkWElRVpEoKAScsjFc67JNdPgRGuz899mK)fqCciuqdHCKsEKstf4STCFWWy)jVOcOwWGcLhPKubfEwU4eyVLfxy3jFcE(YeNGwBbdItOqb2BzxFXYNGRVyXj4coJYKhjHcIlS7eNGl4mktqLmtiIwreUXcfkuWjGmXmHyjeJMG6YJSjrIiuc

Conflagrate Target

da00gaqlrsTlG0WqvoMuSmqXZiuMgHCnH02aQ(gighQQoNij3JqvDquXcbvpeOmrrv5IsvSruvgjOKoPuv9srvvZui6MIQ0ov4NsvzOaHJceXsfcpfzQaUQOk2kqK(kquZvQ0EP(RqnyqPomklgKESuAYIYLvTzf5ZemAPItl41IeZws3gvA3e9BjgUiooOelxPNd10jDDiBxr9DcvgVOY5fPwpHQmFrvL9lvPDJbmfm1Vu)oXAF3(BlsCxk51AmFH9X8f2dLvRMWMAaveOqaLFtCnLzkZaMq4VXP9GNje(BCop4zcj1nii81aMWjVwhmU3JgiPcCySAk7yMIwME4S2ue2csMzOMWmUh45u0Ed3u2XmfTm98v2lSfKmZqnPBqq4RbmPPtUjSYue2eo516GX9E0ajvGdJPI4K9jRPnCtF(s1eNwnuK9c78GzqR3esgutkBfUAcHFSYwHRrCybf2Nz4Mq4hJtEToyCVHBkiN)IVHBcHFmsgud3es(5lvtmKwmjzCp2aE0yQFUClvMERMYou00eq6KBcw5erE5lprA10urQM4BdIxVWgKGyzltz9cBaatDEqOJA(ebPHNiiqebUiW5XlkeW9uQfjYuTWYmGje(XTvggB4M2s9gWexuvdgWQvti8JXjV1WnHWpUTWfktnCt4K3Aat4GuOEpeZQP2kdJnGjCqkuVjqMter2hy5VvRMGYAtrylizgWZPO9MaEofTh3LsETYPvdZmnuK9n)TYsJ72tBnKGFmHKMMk7f2csMb8CkAVjGNtr7XDPKxRCA1WmtdfzFZFRS04U90wdj4htiPP9cHIeiDYnPpNI2BcA9YS8wYUjo5lFMyYaxMgksdyIllinGjnDYnLShF1uYE8vtBrz6bRGK6xWQL2uexaFRwn1ULK40EWdurnM0Ntr7n1Vu)oXAFxozzfjUliFwkCqld3fefX9LdAz48(SaRlh0YWD5Gwgm8BsI4cSbbHVypeZewdTPKoFOLPHI0qn1wQL1aE0y(4h8OILkirHevu0Or5bPXtPoQyEiMh8SAQTWnzpgBOMczMaRiNQmHLP3eRM0H5rJjXfY0oMpr8dtu(fdc48A4Vb8Oqa3tPwKittfPsbX7E0aJjwwwqdfjRgRBqq4l2aE0yat6gee(AatA6KBcRmfHnHKF(s1edPfti8JdY5V4B4M(8LQjoTAOi7f25bZGwVjmc6NVubX(Pqotei6jYinHWpgN8ADW4Ed3ec)yLTcxJ4WckSpZWnHrq)8LkHMMc5mfdghciMa4ebGje(XizqnCtizqnLuzP)AcN8ADW4EpAGWpeiwnHK6gee(Aat4KxRdg37rde(HaXQvpGXaM0nii81aM00j3ewzkcBcHFCNZQAhd3egb9ZxQeAAkKZumyCiGycGteaM(8LQjy9SQ2Xegb9ZxQGy)uiNjce9ezKM6Cwv7yINjK8ZxQMyiTycHFmsgud3ec)ywnmFd3esgutkBfUAQZzvTtCj5ltlRPEZpX3QjKu3GGWxdycjdQjLTcxTA1QPGC(l(gQPPYEHTGKzGvQL1aE04rJhW4rJhI5rJhI8OXQPYgUuzAOinbs7jcG(bJtKMA3ssCop4bQOgtqzTPiSfKmdSsTSgWJgp4bAupGXdEGg1dX8GhOr9qKh8anQvtqzTPiSfKmRVPj8vpGXQPzpAeXJNvBa

Immolate Target

d8JagaqBvy9sr1lfs0UucBteACqIzcjnxrPzlvZxkkDtHKESq9nvuDEHyNqSxQDtY(vr5NsKgMi1VfCAsnuPidwivdxkDqIYrLIIJPuoNkcluuSujklwPA5kEOs0tbltK8CctuiLPkPjlQMoQlkr1vvrYZuP66qTrrWwLiYMvsBhsnnvsFvfrFMiFxIWifs41QugTiA8evNuL4wQi11Kc3tIOUmYHv1FLWEZvdVRgUCCe6ptgUOyAw)yk7L4GsKfAPEVib9qfxooc9N1bLzdcdBlUU48fOy4WqUHCxnGf0ueXiPnGf0ui3iPneh6HXvJKYjCnXuNNk15O0i117nAKikE90nUBK7oHephLnuoXwQ03BK4jsefu86PBKOzdRHHKMawLVm0dJRgzZiBgjLr2mYDJSzKRgzZSHCs8mEEMY8X3KMawL7DdI)GQKCgpKZyiNepJNNPecdjnbSk37gEL(4zDq5QHJxRC1ahPLm0oKGydTdji2We4NPLbSIPzzpeFReAbz2SbE0ss04QHqjuLQ6rCgdyLMnW)irSbTcnncYzmO(ds4Qr2mC54i0FMmBiN2XRR1iTKHOqwzrnHtHQzdRbfBiHr38ZIEZG)855)SOxRg6Hp3vdybve3FHWzmmHo5QHdCN1UA2SbSGkeTuSZyalOI4WX(ZoJbrlf7QbHwj1jJC3SH4(leUAqOvsDYWjLvgQLUmknB2WAqXGU5Kr2szynmK0eWQ8kjNXdzOsYz8qISql17YIzn6N1bvPOPP)rezlpURBfubGvggsshu1iTKbMKZ4HmS3jvEud5KbzrlAgINqBreJKEX1ndcwhFls0WZZ6GY7g2)4BstaRYxg6HXvJSzK0lAyKugj9Igg5UrsVOHrUAK0lAy2atYz8qgUOyAw)ykRS88GsK9K0FtgEEr2McLGgz45frLY1Fwz45fzLHNpfkg0k00iiVBy)JVjnbSkVsYz8qgQKCgpKil0s9USywJ(zDqvkAA6Fer2YJ76wbvayLbDUHlhhH(ZKH4Wr7qcH3n855AwhuFVGhTKencxnYMRg4rljrJRg4iTKbb)mwyalOIKbbR7AoI3niW7eAsXaEDvl3qXszqTaQYkRAGqtk2WPuA(SOVm5pFmtJwW6yHbbENqtkUPHw1YnanvoQOAaRi0KIn8yoyizqW6UMJyizqW6ozalOcSsZoJbSGkEM)4B)ENCgdyLMnW)irSzdyfpAjjAC1awPzd8pseB2Srs5QbE0ss04QboslzqWpJfgWcQij9DoPZyqG3j0KIb86QwUHILYGAbuLvw1aHMuSHOG(oN0GaVtOjf30qRA5gGMkhvunKK(oN0qAdjPVZjlcT08CymCwZwYgWcQaR0SZyaRi0KIn8yoyaR0Sb(hjInBaR4rljrJRgWknBG)rIyZMnB47TjFJSzqHpQJwsIgHrUBimAsXpRdkdLu5LvVSugQgINqBHCJKEX1nd7F8nPjGv5LUUki2iPmBaTr2UMoTzBa

Havoc Focus

d8ZWeaqyOwpqQxcK0UKGETe14GOMPOsZLez2k52GYnbsSnsQ(gOIttQDcyVODtv7huPFkjnmH43cMgjzOqGbdQQHdPdcehvOIoMu54cvQfsclfcTyH0YPYdHipv1Jb55kMOqvnvrMSs10jUOOIRcQYZev11LYgLaNuISzj12vkFuOcFvOk9zr57KugjjQLjugTeA8sIljuj3sOkUMOkNxQ6Yuohe0FbQzht8yM4vgVfG4lbKYbXcabPCuQesvbUs4O6Lw6bRg2TcqLbhf7TqDr8waIc)W3vOQcHtHiZdJFNFNj(kvRRhtiqKcJ1LFErIGq4OEEQhlpEO2ibyjRIap0DSy8n0DSy8AOGNk4fNolZCmXhuZx1V6Pc(Mxl81bO2WR9BMBmQG3JHzdteOJxz8waIc)UfTvxN6rnELbbrqPa4Llf(6Gx4lWPbnCHFC2W7oSGHl8tj(IMoROqa1vXVc4DM4BJbgAHNHk4DHLXepS2s0mrHcFBmWdQbrf8TXadfGfflubp0cpdt8J2NTm(4feeZTksGkf(b1GyIF0(SLrG8PqHVo4LRbTrGUy876bDH7VGHkp8X1W7SmDWN6rnEXQinNXpIgQCF8BoSOdEgLhVVRfDWJxGfNolZCdteOJjEXPZYmht8spQXpcwAdFBmWc2LzcIwC30oBNk4TnZl8Gaj6GhUWhEdo6Y4NwuBZ8ccCwTUc)rqo5MlFBmWdQTwayygvW382M5fECtc8nVw4rx4EZX3gdCZRfQGFArTnZlVvxRRWdgjqEc8tGGyIFqT1cadZiaYrIPkcf(MxC6SmZXe)GARfagMraKJetvekuOWlwfP5m(KvrAoBu6O2AbcKO3WIo4RUzUfUFusH5gZvMFemu5bPGxWApmZl8LaEP4NdpOdbyeicpUjbQGVVAD9yclq98HtxSUyQuhzeQsfYiezwhpQYJxVZRmElaXdfwbhteqfb6OWJHeDWpmXpc2jmXVhaNTcQXO8zRGAGXqIo45NIb1OqHx73m3ymkVVbl50zzMBiqmESxddl6GNj(rWoHjEPh14rD2ycpQZgt4NIoTVmfEyyTNjEPh14rD2ycpQZgt4rBRXOWxR96Pit8spQXJ6SXeEuNnMWpfDAFzku431d6c3xck45l5fZvJHmLkbf8JsfXBbi(rWqLhee0EHxr1uQkOGyP4q5eVyveKcRGJjc0rGoceJaDeiFc0raveOJcf(nc0PksekKa

Shadowburn Focus

d0Z1faGAjvPxkkj7sjY2efZuc1CfLA2k8BeUPIuDBuLVjrhwWofv7LA3KSFsL8tsL6VI04iW5fQgQeYGfLy4k1bfsNMOJrqhxusTqHYsvcTyfXYr6HsQ8uWJjLNl1eLuvtfrtwrnDOlQiPRQiXZqLUokBuc6ZIyZsY2fIVRe1xvKY0ivnpsfggQQLPKgnHgpQOtkPkULsW1KuUhPIETe4YQohQWwOjnWZWSHztAyw21ltPHYi3tmWuivMKCQjnW6N27pg5bE3XmWus0qfHgRn07pg5bE35clfuwA0a9jscfz89nGNtKrVHjJRMNoX8neT(13qCDxv1hDHz4lG)Qa9Rz4yvyTs9RUAb91mWPURQ6JoN)s6lfKHBzgoQXv4And45ez0BOEu4PvbTND05zcvN90EOGOmAOZUiILpnkJg6P)zzi7OmAOZokJgwfyiOK8cOKqzsdngOOjnGX33WM((OHn99rdTivQkWObEbPYKgW47BytFF0WM((ObkbgWx3GqRGLL9nAOsQKTOjnGX33WM((OHn99rdTivQkWOrdH5zjkjuHrksLjjN2M05cnPbKktso1KgW47BOXaYAdS(PIpmqrpXqZM8ixHaRQsYPH06IcKPaz0fjnW6NIbAYXfFwZK0p7yg2NQDfk(WafnSY3WJCfAiQgkju6kltPdtg3qZM8ixHfrFLKtdqrtT4InWus0agOjhnW6N27pg5bE3XmWupYvOHadjmW6NYus0Xmi(Waftj2NgqcQbDOtdS(P7t1UcfFyGIoMH9PAxHIpmqXuI9PbKGAqh60qV)yKh4DNlSuqzPrdmfsLjjNAsd9(JrEG3DUWsbLLgykjAad0KJgn68vtAaPYKKtnPbm((gAmGS2aRFQirJYHeJ7ygA2Kh5keyvvsonKwxuGmfiJUiPHh5k0WuusuxzPoXanOHNkBuQ1gA2Kh5kSi6RKCAakAQfxSbMsIgQi0yTbM6rUcneyiHbw)uMsIoMbrIgLdjg3GirJYXnAGPqQmj5utAGPKOHkcnwB0OrdivMKCQjnmZObusOmKXqV)yKh4DNlSuqzPbm((gAmGS2at9ixHgqjVpByFQ2vO4ddu0WkFdmLenurOXAdASgj4LIX33qJbK1gy9t79hJ8aV7yg0eVwbgEKRqdS(P7t1UcfFyGIoMH9PAxHIpmqXuI9PbKGAqh60aRFktjrhZOb5SbqmmtS8egvPRSuiHgRnOy8iPYKKtBNZ1WYYzu05R81ByqeMnPbw)uTrOBhZaLyCtAGhBGstA0Obw)0EFnhZqVVMjn0svY4oNRrdAJq3M0qlvjJByArxSyDxxwz0ObnIbb1KoxOlSua)mRC5GBn9c5lqqg(UAHACD(QluFTvHRz4lG)k3sok5y1vlulJZ56cfWTuixoYWrn965NHlx9UAHACnA0qBq4s6xQCjbgI4CH65Z3On
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Filed under Cynwise's Warcraft Manual, Warlockery

Synchronizing World of Warcraft Between Two Computers

Playing Warcraft on two different computers can present some real challenges to a player, and the more customized you make your user interface, the harder the challenge. How do you keep your UIs consistent, your addons updated, your preferences shared between the computers?

You can do it manually, which can be a real pain if you like to roll a lot of alts. Smart profile use can help, but it only goes so far – at some point changes need to be synchronized between the computers, and only so much of your interface is stored on the Warcraft servers. Trying to keep your interfaces up to date can be a nightmare if you’re an altoholic, and more trouble than it’s worth even if you’re focused only on a single toon.

I finally found myself in the situation where I need to keep my Warcraft information synced between two computers, an old Macbook (2008 model) and a shiny new Mac Mini. They share similar operating systems, but have very different video capabilities. The Macbook has a 13″ screen and integrated video chip; the Mac Mini is hooked up to a 25″ monitor and has an actual graphics card.

Here’s how I did it.

ONLINE SYNCHING WITH DROPBOX

My goals were simple in concept, if not in practice:

  • Provide the same user interface, including keybinds, general bar layout, addon configuration. Logging in to a character on one computer should feel the same as logging in on the other.
  • Changes made on one game should be propagated to the other automatically. I don’t want to have to make an update in one place and then manually make it again on the other computer.

I thought a bit about how I could approach these goals. My setup was very addon-heavy, with a lot of custom keybinds through Bartender, using the Naga to both push buttons and move my character, and a suite of addons which I’d manage depending on the character’s current role.

It was, in all honesty, probably overengineered. (But that’s a different set of posts.)

I could:

  • Nuke all of it and use the default UI. This would get me my first goal, as well as providing an extremely fast load time and better responsiveness on my aging laptop. But it’s also restricting – I would have to make sure that I didn’t make any changes, and that I’d need to configure things like the bar setup on each computer separately anyways.
  • Redesign and periodically copy over the interface files from one computer to the other. This would help keep me synched up, but requires remembering to do it. That’s bad, I’m forgetful. Also, a simple copy means that you can have file conflicts between the two systems with no resolution system. When you make different changes to the same character, one or the other will be lost when you resolve the conflict.
  • Schedule an automatic periodic direct sync between the two machines. This reduces the chance of file conflict, but doesn’t eliminate it unless the sync is scheduled very frequently.
  • Use an online syncing program to sync the files as soon as a change is detected, usually on logout, reducing the conflict chance to nearly zero – since I can’t be logged in on the same account at the same time on two different computers.

Some other events happened which caused me to very seriously consider nuking all my addons and going back to a default interface, but after some thought I decided to go with an online synchronization service called Dropbox. Dropbox is one of several services available that you can try for free, and their free version is perfect for this task.

Plus I already use it to transfer files, so, you know, Dropbox was pretty much a no brainer for me.

Now, the problem with most online sync services is that they monitor a specific set of folders on your hard drive, usually within their own directory structure, for files that have changed.

The files that control the UI are in the Warcraft/WTF and Warcraft/Interface folders, however. So unless I put my entire Warcraft installation in the cloud – which gets expensive – I was going to have to find a way to make it so Dropbox knew about those two folders.

This is where symlinks come in.

SYMBOLIC LINKS

Symbolic links, or symlinks, are pointers on your file system that look like one address for files, but point to another location. If I have a folder in my home directory called “Website Logs,” but I don’t want to actually keep all the log files within my home directory, I could make that folder into a symlink and put the files where I really want them to be, say in an archive directory or somesuch.

Symbolic links are often the answer for problems like this.

  • Dropbox monitors a folder called Dropbox in my home directory (~/Dropbox/).
  • Warcraft stores UI data in the Interface and WTF folders in the World of Warcraft directory (usually /Applications/World of Warcraft/Interface, etc.).
  • By moving the UI folders into the Dropbox folder and putting a symlink in the WoW folder, WoW thinks that the data is right where it should be, while Dropbox syncs it whenever something changes.

(I’m going to use Mac/UNIX directory structures in my examples, but the concepts are the same in Windows.)

Before I did anything else, I made a complete backup of each folder I was going to be touching – just in case. Take your time when working with files!

To create a symlink you use the ln -s command in Unix. The format is ln -s target link, where you specify the destination – where the files should really be stored, what your symlink points to – and then the name of it.

To keep things easy, I created a Warcraft folder in my Dropbox folder. This means that my targets are both going to be in ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/.

On the machine with the UI I wanted to use as a base (the server):

  1. Move to your Warcraft installation directory:
    1. cd /Applications/World\ of\ Warcraft/ (or wherever your WoW installation is)
  2. Copy the current Interface and WTF folders to Dropbox with:
    1. mv Interface ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/
    2. mv WTF ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/
  3. Create the symlinks:
    1. ln -s ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/Interface Interface
    2. ln -s ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/WTF WTF

When I look at a full list of the directory (ls -lah), I see my symlinks for Interface and WTF, along with their destinations, in my home directory (/home/username/Dropbox). A quick check of the Dropbox folder and I’m able to confirm all my files are where they should be, and the symlinks are up!

My final check on the source computer is to fire up WoW and validate that everything still works. If I’ve made a mistake, it shows up in here pretty quickly.

It goes without saying that syntax matters in UNIX, and small changes can have big repercussions. ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/Interface is different from ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/Interface/, for instance. If you’ve never tried symlinks before, take your time and practice. There’s a manual page for it – type man ln and you can read it.

I did all of that work on my server, since it was shiny and new, and I was making a lot of changes to my UI to take advantage of the big screen. Setting up the laptop was very similar, but because it was going to be receiving the files I didn’t want to move the WTF and Interface folders into the Dropbox folder – instead:

  1. Rename the WTF and Interface folders (WTF became WTF 20120101, etc.)
  2. Create the symlinks from WoW to Dropbox, just like above.

This points WoW on my laptop to look at the interface files stored in Dropbox – which are the same ones from my server. It was pretty cool opening up WoW on my laptop and seeing the UI I’d created on my big screen in all its glory.

Except… wait.

WoW looked really good on my laptop. Really good. Better than it’d ever looked before.

Uh oh.

EXCEPTION HANDLING, VIDEO SETTINGS, AND OMGWTFBBQ

It didn’t take me long to realize that not only was I looking at not just the addons, keybinds and bar layouts of the server on my laptop – I was looking at the same video settings. The video settings were turned up way higher than WoW normally allows my laptop to handle, and with good reason – my laptop can’t handle very much.

So after I shut down WoW, I realized that I needed to sync most of the settings, but not all of them, if I wanted to avoid using my laptop to actually cook BBQ.

The video settings are stored in ../World of Warcraft/WTF/Config.wtf, a plaintext configuration file. The other UI elements are stored in WTF/Account/. So what I needed was the ability to sync everything in WTF/Account/ but not the Config.wtf (or Launcher.wtf file.)

Symlinks to the rescue!

On the server:

  • I didn’t change a thing. This way the Config.wtf will be backed up and I can use it, or not, if desired.

On the laptop:

  • I deleted the symlink and restored the /Applications/World of Warcraft/WTF/ directory from backup. (i.e. I renamed WTF 20120101 to WTF in the finder.)
  • I went down a level and backed up the Account directory, renaming it to Account 20120101.
  • I created a symlink for the Account folder only:
  • ln -s ~/Dropbox/Warcraft/WTF/Account Account

Doing this allowed me to keep the UI layout unified between computers, without threatening to fry my laptop’s video card (and me underneath it!)

Each computer now has its own video settings, while sharing the same UI.

It may not look as good on the laptop, or have as much space due to UI scaling, but it has a consistent layout and feel – which is what I really wanted.

Also, it won’t set my laptop on fire.

ON UNIX COMMANDS, WINDOWS, AND TECHNICAL DISCLAIMERS

While I’ve been working with the seedy UNIX underside of Mac OS X, this technique should be adaptable for Windows. Vista and higher has a mklink command which functions similarly to ln; however, since I don’t run Warcraft on Windows, I can’t really test the function out. It should work, but computers can be funny.

I also know that a lot of users aren’t comfortable working from the command line on either Macs or Windows. I’m going to toss out a disclaimer right now – the code I posted above is suggestions about what worked for me, not a script that you should just copy and paste and expect to work 100%. It’s not. This is more of a recipe than a shell script to execute – a guide to how to make syncing your WoW interface seamless, not a prescription to making it happen. If you’re not comfortable with a command line interface but want to try this out anyways, make a lot of backups. Copy your WTF and Interface folders somewhere safe on both computers before starting. Check each step to make sure the computer did what you expect.

If you’re willing to take the plunge into Terminal, I think you’ll find the command line very fulfilling. Stuff like this becomes possible without waiting for someone to make an app that does just the right thing. It’s not rocket surgery!

For me? I’m enjoying playing with my UI on my laptop, and seeing the changes mirrored on my desktop the next time I log in.

Good luck!

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Using Healers Have To Die to Protect Friendly Healers

(This post is a continuation of Healers Have To Die and the PvP Addon Arms Race, my defense of the controversial PvP addon Healers Have To Die (HHTD). You may want to revisit my arguments in that post before reading.)

Despite my best efforts to get healers to take the initiative, I don’t see many yells for assistance in the battlegrounds. And leveling two healers through PvP right now, I understand why – when I’m getting focus fired, I have about 1 second to switch over and start spamming heals onto myself before I’m dead. The last thing I want to do is to bang the Help Me! macro, which is kinda out of the way, when I really want to cast Nature’s Swiftness or Power Word: Shield to buy myself time.

It’s okay. I should probably macro yells for help into my panic button; I’m still amazed at how effective SaySapped is at telling other players what’s going on. But I keep forgetting to do this because I have a much better personal solution: Healers Have to Die.

Healers Have to Die is the single best addon I have used to protect friendly healers in a battleground, bar none. I am not kidding here. It may be a valuable tool for DPS in PvP to help identify enemy healers, but where I’m discovering it really shines is by identifying friendly healers, marking them, and – most important of all – notifying you when they are under attack.

I wished for another addon called Healers Have To Live. I got it in Healers Have To Die.

HOW HHTD PROTECTS HEALERS

Take a look at the screen at the top of this post. This is my level 70 warrior twink, Ashwalker, fighting at Iceblood Graveyard in Alterac Valley. The camera is zoomed way out so I can see everything around me, but I can’t see details like what kind of clothes people are wearing or even really casting without UI assistance.

You’ll hopefully notice the large blue cross in the screen. This is a friendly healer that HHTD has detected. HHTD looks for specific spells that are usually only cast by healing specs, so it doesn’t get fooled by a Feral Druid casting Rejuvenation – it picks up the real healers.

When a healer shows up in a scrum, I know it now. Enemy healers, friendly healers – they’re all visually represented in a way which makes me know who to protect at all costs – no guesswork.

But that’s just the first part of HHTD’s defense.

When HHTD detects that a friendly healer is getting attacked, it lets you know in BIG HUGE LETTERS across your screen. It tells you which healer is getting attacked, and by whom.

Oh yeah, it spits out warnings in your chat window, too, in case you aren’t looking at the top of your screen.

And it does all this by default.

If there is one addon I absolutely want my BG team to be running, it’s HHTD. Not only for finding opposing healers – I want it for that – but also because it increases everyone’s situational awareness to come to the defense of friendly healers.

How would you not want that?

POP QUIZ: WHERE’S WALDO?

Let’s try a little test. Click on the picture above to view it at a bigger size, look at it for 2 seconds – be honest here – and then close it and come back to reading. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

All done? Good. Pop quiz time, then. Without looking, which healer was being attacked, the top one or the bottom one?

I’ll wager that a good number of you actually will get this right, and pick the healer near the bottom of the screen. But it’s not easy; Beamz’s nameplate is obscured, while Ranting’s is not.

Now, let’s be really honest here – how many of you would have known that Beamz was getting attacked at all, had it not been for the HHTD warning?

I know I wouldn’t have. Unless I saw a mob right on his face, I’d assume that he was fine and dandy, surrounded by people who could take care of him.

To be honest, if I didn’t have HHTD, I wouldn’t have known he was even there, let alone that he needed help. There are 12 friendly players and 3 friendly pets on the screen. HHTD makes my own healers stand out.

HOW TO MAKE HHTD WORK FOR DPS

One of the biggest challenges in getting people to use HHTD to its full potential is that DPS generally don’t run with friendly nameplates on, therefore they’ll never see that a healer is in trouble.

I use Tidy Plates, combined with Threat Plates for PvE, to help manage my friendly nameplates.

Tidy Plates allows you to automate the display of your nameplates based on your combat state, so you don’t have to walk around Stormwind or Orgrimmar with huge crowds of glowing nameplates blocking your view. By selecting the “Show during Combat, Hide when Combat ends” option, friendly plates smoothy come up in combat, and disappear when I leave. It’s really slick.

The second part of my setup is HHTD itself:

Here is the HHTD basic configuration tab. The configuration is relatively straightforward, but you’ll want to make sure that:

  • Protect friendly healers is On. Seriously, why would you have this off?
  • Set friendly healer’s role is On. If you’re the BG leader and you spot a healer who didn’t mark themselves as such, this sets it for you.
  • Announcer and Name Plate Hooker are both On.

These are the default settings. I can’t emphasize that enough, you don’t have to do anything but install HHTD to get it to start working to protect healers.

Healers are your friends. It doesn’t matter if they have a funny name, or are from a different server – all healers are your friends. Don’t abandon them to the rogues.

Get HHTD so your friends can live.

CLARIFICATIONS AND FINAL WORDS

I see a lot of assumptions made in the forums when HHTD comes up, usually made by people who haven’t really looked into the addon, let alone tried it to see how it works. But even when you try it out, you might have some misconceptions about how it works.

  • HHTD only modifies name plates; it doesn’t set raid markers or share information with other players. HHTD’s crosses are only visible to those people running the addon. It’s not like AVR, which shared information with other clients to modify the game world. It’s not setting BG-wide markings on your healers. It is hooking into nameplates and modifying them if someone casts a specific type of spell, NOT communicating that info across clients.
  • HHTD doesn’t target other players or cast any spells. Whenever I see an argument saying that HHTD does this, I wonder what addon they tried out, because that addon sounds much better than the one I’m using.
  • HHTD is pretty tough to fool. This is one I’m guilty of believing wasn’t true – thinking that I could get a cross over my head as a Feral Druid casting some healing spells. It’s wrong. The lua code looks for spells that only healing-spec healers use, or a certain amount of healing from the base spells. It’s actually easier to fool people than it is the addon, just because if you have a big mana pool and are standing in the back casting sparkly healing spells, folks probably aren’t going to check to make sure that it’s Resto, not Elemental.
  • HHTD detects friendly healers. Now you know just how good of a job it does.

I wrote my original defense of HHTD still struggling with the Healers Have to Live concept. At the time, I thought its absence was a weakness in the addon, but it really was a deficiency in my understanding of it. In the subsequent months, I’ve come to explore and appreciate how much better I can be as a PvPer by understanding where my own healers are, no matter how crazy things are getting.

Healers Have to Die is an excellent PvP addon, and I fully recommend it. Not only will it help you find enemy healers, it will help you defend your own teammates better.

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Warlock Keybinding and UI

Pink Elekk.png

The search for the perfect interface with World of Warcraft is much like the search for pink Elekks:  both are goals that really only exist in your mind.  The highly customizable WoW interface leads users towards finding a balance of changes to suit their needs.  With that customization, however, comes an onslaught of choices that players have to make about how their game looks.  And that tyranny of choice can sometimes be overwhelming.

I’ve received a lot of requests on Twitter to share my UI and keybindings for PvP.  I totally understand why people ask this; seeing how other players function inspires me in trying to optimize my interface with the game, of trying out new things, of thinking of ways to arrange functions that work better than the default, and better than what I have now.  I know I can always improve my layout.  Maybe looking at mine will help you with yours.

TL;DR version:  this is my UI.  There are many others like it, but this one is mine.

INPUTS

Any consideration of UI should really start with the very basic elements of the user’s interface, starting with the input devices.   My UI is completely based upon the limitations of my computing setup, where I play, and how I control my characters.   Your UI should take your setup into account, too.

I play on a laptop in various locations around the house — sometimes on a desk, but often in bed, at the kitchen table, or on a couch watching football.  Here is my black Macbook and Logitech trackball:

Cynwise's WoW Computer

I don’t know what your setup is like, but mine is space-constrained.  I do not have a numberpad, or extended keyboard.  I have a small screen (13″) so space is at a premium.  I have a touchpad, but vastly prefer the trackball for Warcraft, mostly because the trackball allows for easy right-clicking.  The touchpad requires an Option-Click and that is cumbersome, both in terms of time and muscle strain.

I know most players don’t like trackballs, and that most players prefer to not play on laptops.  But that’s okay!  I’ve got what I’ve got.  Yes, there are a lot of sleek rigs, cool mice and great keyboards out there.  If those are your thing, try them out.  For me, with all the locations I play in, an external keyboard is not possible.  While the trackball is not something I like lugging around the house, I found the cramping in my hands and difficulty in moving without it to outweigh the extra weight.  So the trackball goes with the laptop now.

Be honest with yourself when assessing your input methods, and don’t worry so much that the devices are holding you back until proven otherwise.

KEYBINDING

Before I show a single screenshot of my UI, I need to talk about keybinding.  My UI doesn’t make any sense without knowing how my keys are mapped out.  The title of this article gives away that I am an avid keybinder.  I bind everything that could be useful in combat to a key; there is very little clicking when I fight.  Some people can click icons effectively in combat — I am not one of them.  I think the improved reaction time you get from keybinding is essential to success in battlegrounds, Arena, and most PvE encounters, too.

I play with my left little finger resting on the tab key and my right hand on the trackball. (Yes, I tab target, I used to play affliction.)  The tab key provides an anchor for me to put three fingers on the 1, 2, and 3 keys, and my thumb on the space bar. The following picture lays out degrees of movement required to hit certain keys.

Keyboard Color Coded

Essentially, I consider my WoW keyboard as a one-handed input device, all radiating out from the Tab key.   Here’s how I think of each zone.

  • Dark red (Tab, 1-3, Q-E, Space) are no motion at all (or very little motion) and are therefore my primary action keys.  On my warlock, these are things like Immolate, Incinerate, Conflagrate.  I am hammering these keys EVERY combat.
  • Pink keys require minor reach, and so are filled with useful spells and abilities.  These will usually see some use in most combats.
  • Orange keys I can stretch to reach but don’t have to leave the Tab key, so they are more infrequent items.
  • Yellow keys require me to lift off of the Tab key and are infrequently-used abilities.
  • Blue keys are system keys and not used in combat.
  • White keys are movement keys, used as backup and for special modifiers (mounting, autorun).

This layout evolved from my original setup, which used the arrow keys to move and 1-10 to cast.  The left hand became my primary casting hand, while my right hand would move with the arrow keys.  (, and . were originally bound to strafing, actually.)  With the introduction of the trackball I realigned the keyboard for one-handed use, and only use two hands when typing text.

Once I had the keyboard divided into zones, I quickly noticed that I did not have enough room to bind all my abilities and the default system commands.  This was a big challenge for me to overcome; I couldn’t accept that it wasn’t necessary to have the PvP pane keybound, for instance.  The ASDW movement keys stuck around for a long time, but eventually, the need to have keys available won out.  You only really need a few system functions available.  Experimentation helps determine what ones you really need.

MAPPING

The hardest part of keybinding is not the honest assessment of your input devices and how you interact with them, honestly.  Organizing and mapping out your keys is the most daunting part of the process.  Trying to organize them logically is tough. Dual specs make it tougher, since now the same character can have two different keybinds.

And alts?  Trying to map out the keys on my alts made me cry.

The keys to managing all this is priority and consistency.  Priority is grouping your most important spells where your fingers are, and consistency is keeping similar functions in similar locations across characters.

Prioritization is very class-specific, and I’ll go into my warlock mapping in a little bit.  Consistency, however, is something that is independent of class and can be achieved by sticking similar things similar places on your keyboard.  So I use a standard way of mapping the keyboard to the screen, no matter what character it is:

Keyboard Bartender Map

There are, essentially, three full action bars worth of keys here.

  • Red keys are the top action bar on screen.
  • Pink keys are the middle action bar on screen.
  • Orange keys are the bottom action bar on screen.
  • Yellow keys are “stance keys” off to the side of the screen.
  • White keys are not displayed on screen.

You can use the default UI to do this mapping, but I prefer Bartender because it allows me to essentially provide a visual representation of the full keyboard on my screen, like this:

This is actual size, which means these buttons are all but unclickable.  I display this so that I can remember my “yellow” key mappings, and to give me a visual representation of the global cooldown.

Could I get away with hiding this?  Probably, on my warlock.  I do swap out some keys (-, =, p) if I need to have a quest item, bomb, or RP-GG keybound, but in general I have this list memorized.  But then I wouldn’t be consistent between characters.  And I like seeing the GCD spin.

Here’s the breakdown for those who would like to know more.

  • Red Keys (fingers at rest)
    • 1: Attack Macro — Immolate, Chaos Bolt, Conflagrate, Incinerate x5
    • 2: Incinerate
    • 3: Conflagrate
    • Q: Nuke Macro — Chaos Bolt, Immolate, Conflagrate, Incinerate x5, [alt] Soul Fire
    • W: Pet Special Ability, [nopet or alt] Drain Mana
    • E: Shadowfury
  • Pink Keys (one step removed, frequent use):
    • 4: Fear
    • 5: Life Tap
    • R: Death Coil
    • T: Demonic Circle: Teleport
    • A: Medic Macro — Healthstone / Health Potion / Lifeblood / Demon Armor
    • S: OH SH_T Macro — Every Man For Himself, Lifeblood
    • D: Buff Macro — Shadow Ward, [shift] Detect Invisibility, [alt] Unending Breath
    • F: Bandage Macro — Heavy Frostweave Bandage
    • `: Smart Mount/Dismount (shared with ,)
    • Z (not shown): Fel Armor/Soul Link Buff Macro
    • X (not shown): Demon Armor/Soul Link Buff Macro
  • Orange Keys (two steps removed, stretch):
    • 6: Howl of Terror
    • 7: Drain Soul
    • Y: Demonic Circle: Summon
    • U: Rain of Fire
    • G: Curse of Elements, Corruption x6, [alt] Curse of Agony
    • H: Shadowflame
  • Yellow Keys (must leave Tab to reach):
    • 8: Drain Life
    • 9: Drain Mana
    • 0: Food
    • -: Wand
    • =: RP-GG/Seaforium/Net
    • Delete: Reverse camera view
    • I: Inferno
    • O: Banish
    • P: Hellfire
    • [: Firestone Macro
    • ]: Create Healthstone
    • \: Toggle Vent
    • J: Shadow Bolt
    • K: Fishing
    • ;: Fel Domination, Summon Demon
    • ‘: Heal Pet/Consume Shadows [Voidwalker]
  • White Keys (non-combat:)
    • L: Quest Log
    • C: Character Pane, [shift] Currency Tab
    • V: Social Pane, Guild Tab
    • B: Open Backpack, [shift] Open all bags
    • N: Talent Pane
    • M: Map
    • ,: Smart Mount/Dismount
    • .: Autorun
    • /: Chat
    • Arrow Keys: Movement

You may find some of my Warlock Macros post helpful in understanding what I mean when I have multiple functions assigned to each key.

THE RED ZONE

One of the trickiest things about dual-specs is keeping the keybindings consistent between your different specs. I try to keep everything consistent, except for the Red keys (1-3, Q-E), which I’ll dub the Red Zone.  I’m fortunate in that I have two extremely similar specs (one is Destro PvP, the other Destro PvE), which is pretty straightforward to switch between.

There are only a few differences here:

  • W: Pet Special is replaced by Curse of Doom.  This is because PvE Destro relies upon the Imp, who does not need his special abilities mapped.
  • E: Shadowfury is replaced by Rain of Fire.  My PvE build doesn’t have Shadowfury, and I use Rain of Fire all the time in instances.
  • J: Shadow Bolt is replaced by Soulshatter.  Soulshatter has no use in PvP, and there’s little need for a Destro lock to ever throw a Shadow Bolt in an instance.  (There is ALWAYS a better spell I could cast.)

I really try to maintain consistency between the different specs, especially in the Red Zone keys.  Even though E changes to a different spell, it’s still an AoE spell.  I don’t have to retrain my muscle memory to do something different, if I want to hit a lot of mobs I hit E.  And W is still a special attack, just a curse I don’t use very often.  (Curse of the Elements sees a lot of use in my PvE play.)

You’ll notice something else in this example: I don’t unmap U from Rain of Fire.  While it would free up a key for something else, I don’t want to have to relearn keys outside my Red Zone.  (The J Soulshatter/Shadow Bolt switch is my only exception here, and it’s not one I sit well with.  I just couldn’t rationalize putting Soulshatter in a PvP build, and occasionally I need to fling a Shadow Bolt at a fire-immune mob while questing.  But this doesn’t sit easy with me.)

Radically different dual specs present an interesting challenge.  Limiting the changes to the Red Zone helps keeps them manageable, because you can focus on grouping actions together.

I don’t have a screenshot of it anymore, but Affliction looked like:

  • 1: Curse of Agony, Corruption
  • 2: Haunt, Unstable Affliction
  • 3: Drain Soul, [alt] Drain Life
  • Q: Shadow Bolt
  • W: Pet Special
  • E: Seed of Corruption

These keys and macros, with appropriate timers and resets, allowed me to keep a boss fully dotted up with a minimum of changes.  I could spam AoE with seeds on E, and execute at 25% life with Drain Soul with 3.

The key to maintaining my sanity between the two, though, was keeping everything else exactly the same.  Yes, that meant I had Drain Soul in two places.  But it also meant that I could switch between the two without having to relearn the entire keyboard.

I love my Red Zone keys.

MOVEMENT

Now that I’ve gone on entirely too long about my keyboard bindings, let me talk about moving my character around.  I’m a trackball user.  It works like a 4 button mouse, so I can run, change camera positions, and strafe, all with different combinations of keys.  I’m right handed, so it is easier for me to strafe left (using my thumb) than strafe right (using my pinky).

I still have the arrow keys bound for movement. I used to use them all the time, but I honestly don’t think I’ve touched them in months.  Mounting and dismounting quickly is very important in battlegrounds, which is one reason I have it in the Red Zone (`) as well as near the arrow keys (,).  I do use Autorun (.) a lot while doing dailies, especially while flying… but it’s dangerously next to my dismount button.  This has led to some unfortunate hilarity.

Perhaps I should do something about this?

(Nope.)

THE SCREEN

After all this discussion about keybinding, you’re probably expecting my UI to be a carefully planned out minimalist work of art.  It’s not.  Actually, it probably looks a lot like yours. Playing on a 13″ screen has drawbacks.  You have only a little space to put a lot of information that is dynamically changing. Your needs for one kind of fight might be different than another; certainly I wish I had less information in PvE and more information in PvP.

As I’ve been writing this post, I realize how much a work-in-progress my UI is. Even now I see things I want to change, to reconfigure, to take out, to add…

Enough excuses. This is my screen UI, there are many like it — but this one is mine.

I have two modes, in and out of combat.  Out of combat, I display extra bars with Bartender for items that I may need access to:

UI Shot - Cynwise, Stonehearth Field Marshall

Oh Bal, you tease.  We were just there to help!

When I enter combat, the bars to the left and right fade out completely. I do this to increase visibility and reduce distraction from the flow of numbers on the screen, like so:

UI Shot - Cynwise, The Azure Front, In Combat

(Yes, I normally play in windowed mode.)

Because they do not convey much information to me during a fight, my Bartender icons are very, very small on the screen.  The pet bar is right on top of it, but I rarely click it, instead preferring to control my pet with the keyboard.

If you are interested in which addons are used for which feature you see here, I have an annotated version of the combat UI. I’m using the following addons:

  • Bartender4
  • DeadlyBossMods
  • DoTimer
  • MikScrollingBattleText
  • MobInfo2
  • NeedToKnow
  • Omen
  • Quartz
  • Recount
  • SaySapped
  • SexyMap
  • WinterTime

In addition to the UI addons listed above, I also use:

  • Altoholic
  • Auctioneer
  • Cartographer
  • DagAssist
  • Gatherer
  • Outfitter
  • TrainWhistle

As I look at my screen, I see several areas which need improvement.

  1. Cooldown management and debuff timers are spread across three different addons, each giving me a little different view on what I need to know.  I should spend some time consolidating them and making it so that the information is consolidated so I do not waste so much space in displaying it.
  2. Combat text is in two places.  I like the information associated with MikScrollingBattleText, but I also want to know the location of the damage — you can’t hide behind a wall from a Warlock who has dotted you up.  I’d like to get the best of both worlds, but don’t know how yet.
  3. I am still uneasy with different Unit Frame addons.  I should try some out, since the default ones don’t convey enough information (and take up a lot of space.)

So, that’s my Warcraft interface.  While it’s not perfect — or a pink Elekk — it gets the job done.

But there’s always room for improvement.

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