Clicking Confessions

I spent my first four years of WoW clicking…. everything.  As a stubby-fingered person, I was never going to be able to reach anything past the number 5, I knew nothing about changing keybindings, and so anything that was outside the 1-5 range was a clickable ability.

I also have this anathema for opening my bags or spellbook, so if I potentially ever wanted to cast a portal, open a lockbox, use a potion, or eat some food, I tossed it onto my quick bars for easy access.  As you can imagine, this made for a ton of bars on my screen… honestly, every single one that I could manage to get shown.

The reason I share all this, is that I honestly understand the need to have a ton of buttons on your screen, and creating a UI that complements a bevy of buttons.  While you COULD just go pick up a pre-made UI that someone has crafted with plenty of buttons, I find that learning an add-on and selecting the perfect spot on your screen for the way you play is the absolute BEST way to go.  Plus, you don’t end up with a lot of crappy add-ons you have no use for if you happen to be an add-on minimalist.

Part One: Planning

Step One

Download a bar add-on.

The standard Blizzard API allows you to show a number of bars; however, they are pre-placed, tend to be a bit too large if you have a gaggle of them, and don’t have all the nifty tricks that a bar add-ons allow you.

I would highly recommend Dominos for users of any bent.  They rely the most on the Blizzard API, which actually means they break less often come patch day, and they are highly flexible for most purposes.

If you have very specific needs OR update your mods frequently, Bartender4 is also a very solid choice.

There ARE “lighter” options; however, they require a willingness to work within the .lua, and I find this rather tedious for most purposes.  If you don’t, give rActionBarStyler a try.

Step Two

Identify your button needs.

You can subdivide your abilities into several categories:

  • Key Abilities–Your rotation or primary heals
  • Situational Abilities–Interrupts, stuns, debuffs
  • Cooldown Abilities–Anything that requires >30 seconds to become usable again
  • Consumables–Pots, healthstones
  • Out-of-combat Abilities–Most buffs, rezzes, and class specific abilities such as portals, lockpicking, etc.

You need to know the number of abilities that fit into each category, as it will impact your bar set-up significantly.  For example, we’ll be hiding bars that contain out of combat abilities to give us more visual space.  More on that later!

Step Three

Configure the size and shape.

Now comes the important part: getting the most use out of your buttons.  The goal, as a clicker, is to have your buttons in a compact formation to allow the least amount of movement around the screen.

A straight row of buttons is not optimal if you click.  Key-binders often use straight lines in their UI configurations, and the Blizzard default is for rows of buttons; however, this is seldom the most efficient way to click quickly.

Consider things you need quickly vs. things that can be tucked away.  I’d suggest all out of combat abilities, buffs, bags and the blizzard menu be hidden from sight.

I prefer a “box” method for my remaining abilities.  One box contains my rotation and commonly used abilities, and the other box contains panic buttons or seldom used abilities. This keeps my mouse from flying around the screen, and makes me more responsive.

Part Two: Implementation

The following is how I set up my ideal click UI using only Dominos.  I did use a L40 alt, so not all of my abilities were available; however, it should provide a good framework for setting up your own button bin!

When you log in you will be greeted with the following mess.

Don’t panic!  Your first step will be to sort your abilities and items into groups based on their use.  You have 12 bars to work with initially, so just place your rotation on one bar, your buffs on another, and so on until you have something like this:

You’ll notice that a couple of my bars are pretty skimpy.  Go ahead and consolidate those as best you can.  I went ahead and added my pots to my rotation bar, and my mini-map scan abilities (Find Minerals and Sense Undead) to my out-of-combat bar, leaving me with 4 total bars of abilities.

Next it’s time to start configuring the add-on!  Dominos options comes in two parts.  The first part is located in the add-on section of Blizzard’s Interface menu; however, for this demonstration, we actually don’t need to touch anything located there.

To begin moving, sizing, and hiding your bars, you will need to type /dom config OR use the Configure Bars button located in the Blizzard Interface Menu.  You should now see:

Anytime the bars are blue, you can move them, as well as right-click them for an additional menu.  The menu on the left is for all bars except bags, which is shown on the right.

So, what do these options do?

  • Columns: Set to 10=horizontal bar.  Set to 1=vertical bar.  Set to anything in between and it will have x columns, and y rows.  Simple enough, eh?
  • Spacing: The amount of space between each button.
  • Padding: An invisible border that surrounds each button.
  • Scale: Easily resize your buttons to become larger or smaller.
  • Faded Opacity: At 100% your bars will be visible at all times.  If set to 50%, your bars will look faded out until you mouse-over the bar, and then they will return to 100% opacity.  If you set to 0, your bar will be invisible until you scroll over it.
  • Opacity: The opacity of your bar at all times. Will not increase visibility for any reason.

The first thing I want to do is clear up my screen real estate a bit.  Any bars that you are not using drag to the top of the screen.  While you CAN de-activate them instead, it’s an extra step, and how often do you really drag items across the top of your screen?

Next, non-essential (read non-combat) bars will be hidden and tucked onto the sides of the frames.  Things you use very little, like the menu bar for me, can also be scaled down to prevent unwanted scroll-over pop-ups during other activities.

For the micro-menu, I set faded opacity for 0, columns for 1, and scale for the lowest setting.  I then tucked it above my chat frame, since I don’t scroll to the left very often.

I did the same for my bag/keyring, and utilized the One Bag feature to make a tidy little square in the bottom right corner of my screen for when I wanted to click them open. However, don’t be afraid to completely disable your bag button if you don’t use the picture to open your bags!  I know most bag add-ons simply open all your bags on “B.”

For my non-essential bars, I did something much similar, setting faded opacity to 0 and making the bars vertical by setting the columns to 1.  I then tucked both bars to the right side of my screen for easy access when I needed to buff or access a profession pane.

Lastly, I want to set-up my always visible click station for combat.  I will set my 2 remaining bars (one for my rotation, and one of combat abilities) to have a column of 4, and arrange on the screen where I’d like.  I chose under my feet for this picture, but I’ve also had a box like this tucked into the bottom right corner, leaving that space for my raid bars.

If you have a stance bar, you can change the number of columns to make it a nice block that fits against your main screen as well.

Last but not least, position your exit vehicle button, and your pet bar (I generally scale this down to the minimum and make it a box as well) and your configuration screen should look like this:

Exit configuration mode, and you have a nice button bin for all your major combat abilities, and plenty of hidden “drawers” for anything else you don’t want to dig into your spellbook to find.

Part Three: Making It Pretty

This is an entirely optional and purely aesthetic option; however, you may find that you miss your gryphons hovering over your buttons, or you just want a more finished look.

Adding gryphons would be the hardest option.  If you are familiar, or are willing to add KgPanels to your repertoire of knowledge, then you can easily append a couple of pretty fellas to your button bin with a little work.  My beginner’s guide should give you enough knowledge to import and position the textures properly, while you can download a pack that includes the gryphon art ready to import here.

KgPanels can also be used to create a “box” for your buttons, making them feel a little more like a planned part of your UI.

However, if you don’t want to mess with that, and just want prettier buttons, ButtonFacade is likely the easiest solution.  Simply download the add-on, and then browse the many facades available at WoWinterface and find the one that appeals to you! Download that package as well, and you should be ready to have pretty buttons upon logging in.

rActionButtonStyler is a lighter option for ButtonFacade, but it can also require some .lua tinkering.

Final Thoughts & Tips

While I have used one add-on exclusively in this example, there are some other add-ons that are fairly tidy, and may be more beneficial for some players.  I personally find a circle of buttons confusing, but a number of users swear by the magic ball that is LunarSphere.

While I have outlined how I set-up my own bars (in theory) when I was a click-ing member of the community, remember, that only you know how you play!  It might prove beneficial to have your rotation buttons on the right, and everything receding in importance to the left.  You might want your scroll-over abilities against the top of the screen.

I’ll leave you with a couple of UI’s that I utilized when I was tanking and primarily using clicking for my entire range of abilities.  In this first screenshot, I’ve utilized a button bin constructed much like I created here.

In this second, I used horizontal bars.  However, if you’re familiar with paladin abilities, you’ll notice that my rotation is grouped on the far right, my frequently used in the middle, and my rarely used abilities on my left.

Like any user interface, a click UI is only limited by your personal imagination.

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12 thoughts on “Clicking Confessions

  1. Cool article! I'm actually trying to learning to go completely blind on my bars. It's not quite working yet (I *like* to watch the GCD go), but at least they're faded a bit.

    I would recommend OPie for out-of-combat abilities and very situational things. It puts whatever you wish of how ever many you want into a ring, which you can then bind to a key to open (it otherwise isn't on your screen). When the ring is open, you navigate with your mouse to move the center pointer to the ability you want and let go of the mouse button and it activates the ability. I use it for things like creating stones, my summoning portal, demon summoning, buff ring + hearth + consumables, etc. It comes with premade rings, but I create my own often. You can set a ring to be displayed on any toon of that class, so I can bind all my buff-ish spells to one keybind across all my toons without having to sort through this gigantic custom ring to make sure I got everything.

    I love OPie. 🙂 Most of my "bars" are hidden by OPie, so my screenshots are only my main action bar & my oh sh*t bar.

    • I'm a big fan of Opie myself. If it's not keybound, it's in an Opie ring for quick access–guess that part of my click craze never did quite go away. However, I left if off this article since technically, you have to keybind to the opie bar, and I figured that was a whole 'nother can of worms ^.^

  2. Yay, Im excited to try all this out. I'll get started as soon as I have some time to play again. Going to the cottage this weekend, and then I'm brining my computer into the shop on monday. So maybe sunday night or tuesday afternoon I'll get on this. I'll do a before and after shot for you. Thanks again!

    -Anslym

  3. Excellent article! I've been using Bartender since early TBC so admittedly I'm quite attached to it, it's, for me anyway, easy to set up and I'm familiar with it. However, I might try Dominoes and play around with this guide, thanks! 😀

    • Bartender actually has a bit more flex in some areas, and I've been known to switch back and forth between the two when I felt something was lacking or out-of-date 🙂 However, in my experience, Dominos seems to have less breakage, and is general more than enough bar modification for me.

      • My Bartender useage tends to be play with the scales, padding, spacing, shove the bars in a corner somewhere, throw a couple of keybindings around and that's it, so, pretty sure I can do the same with Dominoes 😀

  4. Pingback: Windsoar Guides Us On Getting Better Use From The UI | MMO Melting Pot

    • Many do; however, I'll all about UI modification 🙂

      When you're a keybinder, the location of your buttons is irrelevant to your bar set-up!

  5. OOOH! I just discovered your blog and you have some of the most useful guides for addons I ever read. Especially since most addons seem to lack even a basic tutorial and some get pretty complex to mod beyond the most obvious uses.

    Thank you for all the good work.

    And now a challenge: This one is for me the ultimate bar addon – Macaroon. But it's not for everyone. Even so it really pays to spend the time to learn it. It's by far the most custom and versatile bar addon ever. Care to take it for a stroll and let us know what you found out?

    You can find it here: http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/info10636-M
    If you decide to give it a go, don't forget to check the Optional Files tab since Macaroon is going modular it seems.

    • I haven't played with Macaroon in ages (the add-on author took a brief hiatus sometime in TBC if memory serves) but I'll be happy to take a look at it again 🙂

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