6 Steps to a Fresh UI

September 13th, 2010

With Cataclysm looming, we all know that there will be serious addon issues that arise.  Every few months I take an afternoon or so to do a complete UI refresh on my system.  It helps to keep the game from getting bogged down, keeps things up to date and gives me a chance to experiment with some new ideas I’ve had for the game’s look and feel.

I thought I would share my recommended process as it might be something you find useful to prepare yourself for the coming chaos.

Step 1: Take screenshots of your current UI.

Multiple characters, in combat, out of combat, under whatever conditions you think are important.  This will be helpful later when you’re trying to set up addons to look a certain way and so you don’t forget about anything!

Step 2: Move/rename your addon related folders.

You want to start from scratch, eliminating any settings or saved variables that might be left around. The folders you are looking for are your Interface/Addon folder and your WTF/{AccountName} folder.

Step 3: Play WoW.  Naked. (The game, not you… that part is up to you!)

Play around with the in-game Interface settings.  The idea here is to step back and decide what the Blizzard UI is really lacking for you.  I wouldn’t recommend jumping into a raid, but maybe a dungeon or some farming and dailies.  Make a list of what you find annoying or unusable without addons.

Step 4: Set up your action bars so they are usable from the Blizzard UI. (Optional, but highly recommended)

If you’ve been using a bar mod for a long time, your action buttons probably aren’t logically set up to be used with Blizzard’s UI.  I recommend changing that, in case you happen to play at someone else’s place or in case your addon breaks for some reason.  (This is called “degrading gracefully”) Later, when you reinstall your new bar mod, set up your bars around your action buttons, not the other way around!

Step 5: Research your addons.

Maybe you’ve got an addon you’ve been using for a while, but it’s no longer being maintained.  That’s a disaster waiting to happen!  Try to find out if there is a supported addon with equivalent functionality.

Step 6: Install the addons you find necessary.

Enable them ONE AT A TIME and configure it to your liking.  This way you don’t end up with random UI components that you can’t find the source of.  Repeat until all your addons are set up.  If you simply can’t get something to work or look how it did before, you may want to explore your previously saved screenshots and saved settings files.

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