Some time ago, after a couple of weeks of frustration trying to find the “right unit frames addon” for me I wondered on twitter why I’m never satisfied by any Unit Frames addon. Matt kindly replied with “High standards? =D”.

That made me actually sit down and think about what I want from a unit frames addon and in general from my UI and I don’t believe that high standards are at the root of my frustration.

Ok, let’s start from the idea that I more or less follow the Unix principle, ie small programs (addons) that do only one thing but do it properly and cleanly, that don’t require hours spent in the lua code to configure and that would still allow me to have an aesthetically pleasing UI. Also, for no other reason that I get a warm feeling inside, I want my addons to use as little memory as possible.

Sitting down and thinking about what information I actually need while I play both in raids and Battlegrounds, I came up with this list:

My Health and the target’s health.
My power and the energy ticks
Debuffs on target: Poison stacks, Rupture.
Enemy Castbar
Duration of stuns (Sap, Cheap SHot, Kidney Shot, Gouge, Blind)
Combo Points
Duration of Slice and Dice and a few other abilities like Find Weakness when I’m Mutilate specced
Cooldowns (Blade Flurry, Adrenaline Rush, Vanish, trinkets)
Debuffs on me
My threat
Temporary Weapon enchants

The second thing I did was trying to figure out which areas of the monitor I look at by default, and basically there are two: a central square around the character and the right bottom side of the monitor, probably because the cursor usually sits there when I don’t use the mouse, and it’s most natural movement for me is from that corner to the centre and back.

Armed with this information I collected the addons that would cover the list above:

XPerl for the Unit Frames
TickTock for Energy ticks
Debuff Filter
ECB
Stunwatch
naiCombo
RoguePowerBars
OmniCC and DoomCooldownPulse
Bollo (to allow me to move buffs and debuffs independently)
Omen

To these I added the defacto raiding addons: oRA2, BigWigs and BunchofBars, useful addons such as Align, AMP, BaudBag, BaudGear, ChatStamp, Dominos, Doublewide, OPie, PhanxChat, Jumiminimap, pMap, Hemlock, oPen, WeaponRebuff, SCT, RedRange, and a few purely esthetical like ButtonFacade, NeonChat and Shared Media.

The screenshot shows the first outing of this UI. It is still very much a work in progress, especially the unit frames and in the second part I’m planning to talka bit more about them.

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