I need something that will… WeakAuras.

This is the second installment in the user interface series, the first one covers VuhDo but this time I’m talking about WeakAuras.  This is one of the most powerful add ons available and again I’ll be giving Holy Paladin specific tips, tricks and strings.  I did not do this on my own, big thank yous to:   Affiniti from Blood Legion who did an amazing monk package that I stole for my first set of holy pally auras. Touchymcfeel has a great video series that I’ve watched for some tricks especially dealing with Clemency charges which will also factor heavily in the new 5.4 Sacred Shield.  Lovecraft in Angry who wrote virtually all of our T15 enounter WA,  Revvo from the MMO-C forums who I stole stuff from,and innumerable people I’ve harassed over time to help with problems, testing and just listening to me whine (Sparky, Endule, Sinner, and the rest of you peoples).

“I’m looking for something that will show me a cooldown on my abilities.” – WeakAuras
“I want something that will show me when my trinket procs.” – WeakAuras
“When the boss puts that debuff on me, I want to know.” – WeakAuras
“Is there something that will show duration of a buff?” –WeakAuras
“I keep forgetting to put up a seal.” –WeakAuras
“Is there a way to remind me if I don’t have a beacon on anyone?” –WeakAuras
“I hate the Blizzard default Holy Power bar.” –WeakAuras

Are you seeing a pattern?  WeakAuras is probably the most game changing add on ever released.  Well, probably since AVR but we all know what happened to that .  At the moment we’re in no danger of losing WeakAuras since it doesn’t do anything that a host of other add ons don’t also do, it’s just a lot more user friendly (loosely defined in some cases) and allows mere mortals to create reasonably sophisticated notifications quickly and ahead of the boss mods since they can be done on the fly and instantly shared with the raid.  It also allows for UI customization that is dizzying when you first grasp the full potential.

WeakAuras is the successor to PowerAuras which was very popular through Cataclysm but WeakAuras was gaining popularity through the last expansion and exploded at the launch of Mists of Pandaria because of a blunder on the part of the PowerAuras developers.  During the MoP beta all the add ons were basically new because of base coding changes in the game so things that worked on live servers were often just unusably broken on beta.  When raid testing started in earnest and we were allowed to use add ons again, PowerAuras just didn’t work.  The developers were doing a full rewrite and it was non-functional.  The WeakAuras team was on the ball and had a fairly complete product that did everything that PowerAuras did and even had the same textures available so for people that have a hard time with change, it could be configured to mimic the old PowerAuras.  Couple that with the greatly expanded functionality of WeakAuras and I, along with many others, just never even bothered looking back.  For completeness I just went to check and see if PowerAuras is still around and there is a PowerAuras Classic v4 – MoP Version but the new rewrite that was intended doesn’t seem to have come to fruition.

Ok, history lesson over.  What does WeakAuras do?  The better question is what do you want it to do?  The flexibility and power of WA makes it easy to be overwhelmed when you first start to look at it since it seems to be the answer to everything and everyone around you is using it for a billion different things.  I would argue that WA does two really big things.  The first is to make improvements to the player UI that allows for cooldowns, active buff, and proc tracking; the second being a secondary boss mod.  This is a UI post so we’re mostly going to concentrate on the UI elements but I won’t neglect the boss mod part since that’s really important also.

Needs More Cowbell

Bad_UI_Label

In designing your UI the first step is to eliminate clutter and distraction.  What you want is to see all the important things very clearly and for unimportant details to sort of be shoved off to the side or eliminated entirely.  I’m going to use scrolling combat text as an example of something that is occasionally vaguely interesting but needs to take up virtually zero attention for the majority of your time.   On the other hand, unless you’re a weird timing savant, you’re probably going to want to know pretty immediately and obviously when certain abilities come off cooldown or when you get a proc.  If you’ve cluttered your field of view with spamming green numbers, that information will get missed.

What you want in front of you, in plain sight, will vary based on what your weaknesses as a player are.  I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense.  We all have strengths and weaknesses and the idea of making WeakAuras to begin with is to prop up where we’re not as strong so we can focus our attention on other things.  I don’t automatically know when Avenging Wrath is coming off cooldown to the microsecond  in my brain and using focus to look at my action bars to check can be better spent looking at health bars (or my feet) if the cooldown tracker is closer to my natural field of view.

Identifying what information needs to brought into better view is a big part of designing your UI.  Since we’re healers a great deal of our attention is focused on our unit frames so it makes a lot of sense to arrange things around them.  As holy paladins our strengths come from managing our cooldowns both long and short term and knowing what utility we have available at any given time.  For that reason I have a couple sets of WA arranged around my unit frames that show me all those things without taking over my entire screen and allowing me to keep a peripheral view on everything while also concentrating on healing people and where my feet are.

Stealing WeakAuras for Fun and Profit

There are two main strategies to adding WA to your UI.  The first is to design them from scratch making sure that all the details are just so.   The more popular approach (also easier and lazier) is to steal them.  Or to steal some that look like you want and then modify to your heart’s content.  I’ve done both and they both have their place.  I’m mostly going to assume that you’re as lazy as me and would rather steal stuff than reinvent the wheel so I’ll be directing you to http://www.pastebin.com links where you can just copy the code.

I’m real bad at all things video so I decided to do one anyway just to torture you.  It’s very hard to capture the spirit of something as dynamic as a user interface with a static image although I’ve tried up until now.  Please forgive me for the following transgression:

Alright, so now that that happened, if you’re interested in my WA strings you need to import them! First step: go get WeakAuras from Curse or your favorite add on purveyor.  Next step is to either go to my main pastebin and find what you’re looking for or here’s a list of the featured bits from the video:

pastebin

WeakAuras is incredibly easy to use if you’re just importing.  In main WA interface (/wa in game) there is a list to the left of all your installed WA and the edit window is the the right.  There are two categories of WA, those you have Loaded and below those are Not Loaded.  If you’re having trouble getting something to show up, chances are it’s not loading correctly, I’ll get there in a minute.  To import a string from pastebin go to New -> Import from String and paste the gobblidygook in. You should get a small pop-up prompting you to import, click that and that’s it!

WeakAuraUI

WA_Import

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is another way to get WeakAuras and there’s any one thing that puts it ahead of the PowerAuras then this is it.  WeakAuras can be linked in chat and imported by anyone who has WA installed as long as you’re on the same server.  It sadly does not work through RealID or battletags but if you really want someone’s stuff you can roll a level 1 on their server and import via this method since WA doesn’t care if the receiver can use it.  You can just click on the link and it will import just like in the image above.

WA_Game_Import

This is particularly useful when you’re working on a new boss since if you have someone in your raid who’s quick to come up with useful WA they can quickly be shared and can have a positive impact on progression immediately.

Ring Around the Raid Frames!

Once you have all these cool things, then next step is to organize them in an meaningful way. If you suffered through the video I posted you can see that I have everything I need centered around my raid frames since that’s where the majority of my attention is.  The nice thing is you can just move stuff around until you’re happy.

WA_SeeIf you want to move things around you just click the thing and drag it around.  If you’re trying to line up multiple WA groups just hit the little green “eye” next to what you want to see and you can have multiple groups visible simultaneously.  One trick you can use if you have ElvUI is if you click Toggle Anchors it brings up a grid you can use to arrange you WA as well to keep things evenly spaced if you have a case of the OCD like I do.

ElvUI_Grid

The way you set up your UI ultimately has to work for you.  There’s no magic system that works for everyone so go watch some video or talk to people in your guild about how they’re set up and see if they have any advice for you.  Try everything keep what works!

As with all good things there are a multitude of resources already out there from starting from scratch to advanced custom options.  A great place to start is with touchymcfeel’s video series.

Who needs DBM?

As of right now BigWigs and DBM aren’t in danger of being usurped entirely but a lot of what the big boss mods do can be implemented very quickly on the fly and can be tailored to individual raid needs.  The easiest implementations are warnings for buffs and debuffs on players and notifications when the boss casts an ability or gains a buff/debuff.  Those are more or less covered in any normal tutorial.

You can also set up an announce for when group members are effected by a boss ability.  This can be extremely useful in the early days of progression while the boss mods are catching up. One example from the upcoming Siege of Orgrimmar raid might be Gift of the Titans and Power of the Titans in the Sha of Pride encounter.  This can be set to display to your screen or broadcast as a raid warning.

The boss mods do a fairly good job of warning us about bad things overall and I won’t be trying to do the timers anytime soon, but with some abilities having a little extra kick in the pants to do whatever is pretty good thing.

CD_Text

One use that isn’t in high use is to use the text feature to keep assignments on screen.  Here’s how to do it: create a new text WA, enter your list in the text box, click Accept.  The last part is important, don’t forget.  Not that I’ve ever done that.

Text_TriggerThe key to making a WA work is the triggers.  The foolproof trigger to make this show is to check and see if I’m alive.  If I am, this will show up.  Go to the Trigger tab and set to Status, Health, Player > 0.  What this is telling WA is to display this if the health of the player (me or you) is greater than dead.  If we die it will untrigger or disappear.

These are generally only useful during a specific encounter and as you well know will likely be changed from week to week but even so we only want to load it in the raid instance so on the load tab you can see some options there, check Zone and Throne of Thunder (or Siege of Orgrimmar).  You can also just turn it off by checking the “Never” box at the top.

Text_Load

This brings me to my last point.  WeakAuras is an amazing add-on that does a lot of really cool stuff.  If you’re just now discovering it the temptation will be to go grab everything you can and mess around with it which you should do!  It can, however, get extremely unwieldy and needs a good purging every once in a while.  I’ve satisfied my pack rat tendencies by getting a pastebin account where I back up my current set of auras and store some old iterations in case I want them back but still keep my in game WA lean.  Pastebin is a great way to share and you can search it for other WA you might want as well.  I get no money or anything from them, I just like the site.

As you start collecting WA through the next tier, do be sure to go through and put them in a dynamic group, size them the way you like, get your fonts all happy or whatever you need to do to make the WA that other people are making work for you. Remember to delete with reckless abandon if something just isn’t working for you!

As always, I hope you learned something and that I’ve inspired you to try something new!

My Pastebin Contents

There’s a couple more random things in there but that’s what I use.  Good luck and have fun!

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