UI Construction and Key Bindings

In the comments on my most recent WeakAuras post, several people said that they’d be interested in hearing about my user interface (UI) and keybinding setups.  I discussed my UI setup briefly about a year ago, but it’s probably worth a more complete (and updated) discussion.

User Interface

For starters, here’s my interface.  The link below contains an annotated screenshot where I’ve identified all of the relevant addons I’m using.

Theck's UI - November 2012

Theck’s UI – November 2012

annotated screenshot

I’ve put a lot of thought into this interface, revamping and revising it over many years.  The basic goal is pretty straightforward – make information easily accessible and arrange it in order of importance. As I said in the Ask Theck post:

[My UI is] generally arranged around a principle of “least eye movement.”  The idea is that the stuff you need to act on quickly should be in front of you, and require little to no eye movement to see.  Stuff that’s not as important, or things you only check once in a while, go farther out.  This minimizes the amount of time your eyes spend searching your UI for information, and lets you concentrate on the decision-making portions of gameplay.

What’s important?  Things like ability cooldowns, important temporary buffs (GAnK, AD, etc.), enemy spell casts, and DBM timers that are about to expire.  As you can see, those things are all clustered around the middle of the screen, just far enough out that I have an unobstructed view of myself, the boss, and the area immediately around me.  My WeakAuras HUD gives me at-a-glance information about my rotational abilities directly below my character.  I have Gnosis set up to put an enemy cast bar right above the Holy Power indicator.  A custom Raven group slightly off to the upper left tells me about important temporary buffs, which includes pretty much every mitigation cooldown, enchant, and trinket proc I might care about.  And DBM timers that are about to expire are to the immediate left, so I can see what’s coming up in the next 10 seconds.

As we go further out, things gradually drop off in importance.  Below the WeakAuras HUD is my own cast bar (which almost never shows, since we don’t cast much), and immediately below that are my player, target, target of target (ToT), and ToToT unit frames.  Below those are my Bartender action bars and minimap.  Boss and boss target frames are to the right.  Longer-duration DBM timers are off to the top left.  Incoming damage and heals are shown to the far left (via Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text, or MSBT), and outgoing damage is shown to the far right (also MSBT).  Grid is off to the far left.  In the corners are the least important things: Chat frame, Omen/Recount, buff icons (via Raven).

One thought you might have had is, “Wait, isn’t your health important?”  Indeed it is, which may lead to the follow-up question, “So why is your player frame so far from the center?”  The answer is scale – note how large the health bar is.  It’s that size for a reason – it makes it easy to see in the periphery of my vision.  I don’t need the player frame to be any closer, because the health bar is so big that I can easily see it at all times at that distance without looking.  Since I generally only need a rough estimate of my health anyway, this is perfect.  It’s also the reason so many unit frame mods make the health bar so big, and one of the major reasons why a unit frame addon is preferable to the default UI.

As a final note, I should mention that I double up on some keys by using Clique in combination with Grid.  Clique lets you assign spells to modifier+mouse button combinations on specific frames.  So, for example, I can set it up such that when I use Mouse4 on a player in Grid, it casts WoG on them, even though Mouse4 is bound to CS when I click it outside of the Grid frames.  This adds a lot of versatility, especially for spells that target friendly players – it’s basically like an entire suite of mouseover macros, but only for the particular unit frames you want them to work on.  So in Clique, I have WoG, Sacred Shield, and all of the Hand spells bound to different mouse/modifier combinations.

Key Bindings

My key binding setup is a bit peculiar.  First of all, I don’t use the default movement keys (WASD).  Instead I use ESDF.  To see why, consider these two images of the two setups:

WASD movement scheme

WASD movement scheme. Image from Wowwiki.

Most players who use a WASD scheme will bind A and D to left and right strafe, respectively.  W controls forward motion, while S is backpedaling.  Those four keys give you your basic range of motion.  Then you have the keys on the periphery that you can use for bindings: 1-4, Q, E, F, Z, X, and C are all prime real estate for abilities.  There are some keys that are a little harder to reach, which are shown in yellow: tilde, 5, T, G, and V.  These are reachable, but require a little bit of stretching.  Everything else is a little tough to reach – you can hit F1-F5, but you have to take your fingers off of WASD; similarly, 6, B, H and Y are pretty much unreachable without loss of movement control.  However, you do have full control of all three modifier keys – Alt, Control, and Shift – which allows you a decent number of key binding combinations.

Now let’s look at the ESDF scheme:

ESDF movement scheme

ESDF movement scheme. Image from http://raydenuni.com/wow/KeyboardLayout/

In ESDF, your movement keys are shifted over one spot.  This opens up a number of new bindings.  First of all, I disagree with the coloring in this image – green is supposed to indicate that a key is fast and easy to reach, so Z, X, C, and V ought to be green instead of yellow.  V, G, T, and 5 are now in the “easy-to-reach” category, bringing our total of “easy” buttons to 15, up from 11 in the WASD scheme.  We can also reach 1, 6, Y, H, and B now with only a little stretching (Y, H, and B could almost be included in the “easy” set in my opinion, but that may depend on your hand size and typing ability).  Our total of yellow keys is still 5 (tilde, 5, T, G, V in the WASD scheme; 1, 6, Y, H, B in the ESDF scheme).  And we still have 4 keys to the right that we can hit if we give up movement control (7, U, J, N) along with the F-keys, but we’ve added a new one to the top left (tilde).  We also keep all three modifier keys in this configuration, opening up quite a few more binding options.  This is one of the strengths of the ESDF scheme: it expands the number of binds you can access with your left hand.

There’s another reason the ESDF scheme is more convenient for me – it maintains your usual hand positioning while typing.  I took a keyboarding class in high school, so I was taught proper hand positioning and typing practice.  My hands naturally drift to the home row when I’m in front of a keyboard, and I’m pretty proficient at reaching all potential key combinations (to the tune of ~70 words per minute, give or take).  It just feels unnatural to me to put my hand in the WASD configuration.  Furthermore, I can actually hit most of the “unreachable” buttons with my left hand without too much trouble if I need to, because most keyboards have a raised “nub” on F and J that lets you quickly position your hands.  So while I have to give up control to hit U, J, N, or 7, I can do it in a pinch because it takes me very little time to recover.

So how do I arrange my skills within this scheme? Something like this:

My key binding map

My key binding map.

In this image, the lower right corner is what’s bound to that key normally.  To the left is the combination with the Alt modifier, and top right is the combination with the Control modifier.  So for example, hitting W uses a trinket, Shift+W is Hammer of Wrath, and Alt+W is Word of Glory.

F1-F8 take some work to hit, but they’re still accessible enough that it was worth using them for something. When I was raid leading, I found myself needing to use raid markers quickly while in combat, and these keys were perfect for that since I wasn’t using them otherwise.

1-5 are easier to reach, and thus get more common spells.  1 is a Righteous Fury toggle macro that helps with taunt swaps.  2 is Judgment, which is a bind that literally goes back to the first days of WoW – it’s the spot where Judgment defaulted to when I learned it, and it never moved.  3 is Rebuke, and in general I use 3 for interrupts on all of my characters.  4 is Hammer of Justice (and likewise, usually a stun or CC on other classes).  5 is a Hand of Protection macro that doesn’t get much use anymore, but still comes in handy occasionally.

Tilde is my mount macro, since it’s far enough out that it would be difficult to use in combat.  N brings up the talents pane, J brings up my world map.  I don’t remember what U does, but it’s another interface panel of some sort.

Q is Holy Avenger.  I don’t have anything else relevant bound to Q, because I moved the quest log to Shift+Q and the other combinations (Alt+Q and Control+Q) are awkward.  W pulls triple duty: its default function is a /castsequence trinket macro, but with Shift it becomes Hammer of Wrath (Shift+W has been my “execute” button for what seems like forever) and with Alt it becomes my self-WoG hotkey.  I don’t actually have a WoG keybind for other players – I use Grid and Clique for that (Mouse4 on a unit’s box casts WoG on them).

E is solely for movement.  In the past, I’ve had things bound to Shift+E and Alt+E, but it had a tendency to get in the way of movement (or, for example, moving while using a different Shift+Key bind) so I unbound them.  R is actually the in-game “reply to whisper” function, which is probably a waste, but it’s become so ingrained that every time I try to re-bind it somewhere else and use that key, I end up casting whatever I put there every time I try to reply to someone, so I gave up on that.  I do have Shift+R bound to a macro that self-casts my L90 talent (Light’s Hammer on the image, even though it doesn’t actually work with that particular talent).

T is still the default “toggle auto-attack” button, but Shift+T is my L90 talent (again, shown as Light’s Hammer).  I have Alt+T bound to Turn Evil, but to be honest I can’t remember casting it once so far this expansion, so I left it off the diagram.  Y is a little difficult to use, so I have it bound to my cloak tinker (Goblin Glider). H is Divine Protection by default, and Shift+H is Devotion Aura.  Alt+H is difficult to use effectively, so it’s not bound.

B is actually Shield of the Righteous.  I think that by default, B opens your bags (a function I’ve moved to Shift+B), but that seemed like a waste of good key real estate, so I quickly (as in, in late 2004) rebound that to take advantage of it.

V controls a mouseover macro that taunts if the target is hostile and casts Cleanse if they’re friendly.  Shift+V is my self-cleanse button (which hasn’t gotten much use since Wrath, when Cleanse was nerfed).  C is still bound to the character pane (another bind I just couldn’t disabuse myself of), but Shift+C is Avenging Wrath.  Alt+C is bound for use out-of-combat (Survey, I think) since it’s too awkward to use during combat.

X and Z are my big defensive buttons.  I’ve had X bound to Divine Shield since Classic WoW, with a /cancelaura macro for “stupid pally tricks.”  Shift+X is my bind for Guardian of Ancient Kings.  I don’t think Alt+X is bound to anything at all, certainly nothing I use enough to remember it.  Z is Ardent Defender.  Alt+Z is bound to something too, but it’s not combat related (I think it toggles the UI for screenshots).

Now for the movement row.  S, D, and F are my strafe and backpedal buttons, as per the usual ESDF scheme.  Shift+S is Repentance, and Shift+F is a Hand of Freedom macro (also bound to 6, but Shift+F is much easier to hit).  Alt+S is my keybind for the ExtraActionButton that Blizzard added in Cataclysm.  D is my consumable button – Shift+D uses my healthstone (or a healing potion – it’s a dynamic macro made by the addon Buffet) and Alt+D uses an armor potion (in DPS specs, this is a DPS potion).

A and G are actually… keyboard turning, believe it or not.  Now, before you start laughing, hear me out.  Would I absolutely need these keys? Probably not – I do most of my turning with the right mouse button and strafing.  And I probably should unbind them and put something useful on A and G.  But I’ve found that there are times when I want to be moving and turning and clicking on something – for example, I’m strafe-kiting a group of adds and I’m trying to target a loose one that’s on a healer (think heroic Nefarian in T11 for a specific example).  Being able to “circle-strafe” with just the keyboard is actually pretty useful in those situations, because it gives me a little more freedom of movement while still giving me the freedom to use my mouse for targeting.  I think that in the long run, these keys will get rebound once I decide I need more easily-available key binds.  but I seem to have more than enough as it is, so I’m in no hurry.

Shift+A isn’t shown, but it’s a self-cast Hand of Salvation macro that doesn’t see much use anymore.    Shift+G is my “self-cast Sacred Shield” macro.

You might notice some conspicuous omissions on this list.  For example… where’s Crusader Strike?  Well, this is another oddity of my play style.  I actually perform most of my regular rotation with my mouse.  I use a Logitech G400 (formerly MX518, formerly MX500):

Mouse setup

My mouse setup

The thumb buttons (mouse4 and mouse5, or back and forward in most browsers) cover CS, HotR, and AS.  I have SotR bound to Shift+Mouse4 as well, which is a little redundant until you think about how I have it bound on the keyboard.  I can easily hit B while moving forward, left, or backward, but I can’t simultaneously strafe right (F) and hit B because they require the same finger.  B used to be my Holy Shield bind in Cataclysm (and Shift+Mouse4 my SotR bind), and in tweaking my binds for Mists beta I just dropped SotR there in its place.  I got used to using B in beta, and now use it more than Shift+M4 just because it’s faster and easier to hit, even though Shift+M4 is less obtrusive.

The three buttons on the top of the mouse are re-bound to [, ], and ‘ in Logitech’s software, which are then bound to the spells shown in-game.  The button above the wheel controls Holy Wrath, Consecration (with Shift), and Every Man for Himself (with Alt).  This button has generally become my “AoE” button on other characters as well.

The button immediately below the wheel used to control Hand of Reckoning (now Reckoning) and Righteous Defense (with Shift) until they removed RD.  Blinding Light was my drop-in replacement for that slot, though to be honest I’ve used it so little that I’ve been swapping it out for fight-specific macros.  Alt+this button is what I use for my belt tinker (Plasma Shield or Nitro Boosts).

The final button on the top of the mouse is Lay on Hands, and automatically self-casts when combined with Shift.  I don’t believe I have anything bound to Alt+ either of these keys at the moment, but I have slots for them on Bartender so that I can put fight-specific stuff there.

All of my seals are handled with the mouse wheel.  The wheel’s unmodified behavior is zooming in and out (I frequently do this during fights for a better view of what’s going on, or to zoom in to see the ground beneath me better).  I used to use Shift+Wheel for auras in Cataclysm, but found that once in a while I’d accidentally change (or turn off) auras during combat when I was trying to cast and zoom at the same time.  With auras removed in MoP, it was logical to move seals to these keybinds (Seals used to be Shift+R, Shift+T, Shift+G) since they’re not as commonly changed, but to avoid the “accidental swap” issue I changed the modifier keys to Alt and Control.

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44 Responses to UI Construction and Key Bindings

  1. Angelflavor says:

    yea, not going to lie, I’m a clicker. I’ve been playing Prot for like 7 years (yea even in Classic…) I have everything key bound, but unless it’s intense Tanking fight, I feel clicking gets the job done and is more fun.

    That would change if my guild decided to to try more heroic modes.

  2. Pappo says:

    Great post Theck! I’m not really used to press CTRL or ALT as modifiers, but I’m needing more keybinds lately so maybe I’ll try them 😛

    What’s your unit frame addon name? It’s really good :O


  3. Znuff says:

    Oh god, please don’t give UI advice when you’re wasting SO much space and you’re using all the space you have so badly.

    • Theck says:

      If you have suggestions, I’m open to hearing them.

    • Sorry, but I don’t think this is very constructive. Theck doesn’t “give UI advice”, he specifically states he is posting his interface because people were asking him to and explains the logic behind it. It’s just what works for him, not “teh bestest way 2 UI”. But I’m sure you can do much better, so I’d be very interested to see a link to your UI.

    • Orthien says:

      Theck has said this is a UI built to show all the information he needs as handily as possible. This is not a UI built to be stylized and minimalistic.
      For me only space that isn’t needed would be Omen and Recount since something like Skada could do both jobs in the space of one. But that’s one tiny corner and probably just an addon preference.

  4. CHibby4 says:

    Many thanks Theck. I am currently using the G700 due to the extra mouse buttons, but I also have the G400 which I use for accurate FPS gaming. I long to use the G400 for wow, but have avoided it due to laziness. With your post, I may give it a try. Thanks man.

  5. Lakh says:

    Interesting setup. I just couldn’t use the ESDF key bindings, so I specifically bought a keyboard with macro keys on the left side to give me the additional space instead. Absolutely agree with the selective keyboard turning – I make the big quick movement with the mouse, then fine tune with keyboard while using the mouse to target.

    I do like the Clique use, I always just used mouseover macros & disliked button replacements when I was a healer, but that’s a better approach for utility spells.

    One thing I’ve done on all my characters is rebind the camera zoom in/out to two macros,
    “/script CameraZoomIn(7)” and “/script CameraZoomOut(7)”, with the setting “/console CameraDistanceMoveSpeed 50″ in the login files to make it more responsive.

    There’re 50 units in the camera zoom distance (and then you can also define how big those units are via the maxfactor command), so that means that from nearly 1st person -> max zoom is only 7 notches of the mousewheel. Easily done in one rotation & much quicker than the default.

    • Ethan Mercer says:

      Which keyboard did you buy, out of interest?

      • Lakh says:

        Used to have a Logitech G13 until I split a drink over it, since then I’ve had a Logitech G15 for several years & I’ve been very happy with it. The bottom 4 macro keys can be conveniently pressed with your little finger with minimal movement & the top 2 are about as accessible as F1-F4. Being split into groups of 2 vertically is actually convenient for quick & clean presses too imo.

        I recently bought a CM Storm Trigger (mechanical) which I really like, but the macro keys are 1KRO without the Windows-only software & I game in multiple OS’s so it’s of limited use to me. Apparently the Corsair K-90 has a similar issue.

        Contemplating trying a Razer Black Widow because they have software for Windows, OS X & other unix variants. I do really like the feel of the mechanical keyboards.

        • Lakh says:

          Whup, I meant G11 for the prior keyboard. I do have a G13 too, which I liked to a degree but I can’t stand the mini-joystick. I just don’t find controlling it with your thumb confortable & holding it between thumb+forefinger is inconvenient. Been tempted by the Nostromo/Razer version because its movement control looks better, but haven’t given in to temptation (yet).

          I’m not an input device junkie. Really. I promise =)

          • Daishan says:

            I’ve never even attempted to use the mini-joystick to control movement, I use it for my main rotational abilities then have a W,A,S,D arrangement on the standard keys. I find that works really well for me.

  6. Goil says:

    Just wondering how you get your DBM bars like that. Ever since 5.0.4 my DBM bars have changed to the smaller bars with writing above them, rather than large bars with writing inside them. I have searched everywhere but can not find a way to modify this.

    • Theck says:

      I wish I could tell you – as far as I know, I didn’t do anything special to them (apart from moving them). Maybe it’s a setting that got toggled by accident somehow in your setup?

  7. Halocc says:

    Thanks for the write up. Actually validated most of what I’d already been doing, with the exception that I sprung for the naga epic mouse with the thumbpad. It’s a ridiculous amount to spend on a mouse but I don’t regret it.

    Out of curiousity, with so much bound to shift/alt/ctrl, what do you use to key up vent? We don’t talk a ton in vent, but when necessary I find those keybinds get in the way.

    Sidenote: Thanks for all the info from posts, you saved me from personally having to explain why hit/exp/haste are great prot pal stats.

  8. Daishan says:

    Interesting read as always.
    If anyone is thinking of getting a new keyboard I can recommend the Logitech G13 Gameboard without any reservations, got mine almost 2 years ago best money I’ve ever spent on a gaming peripheral.
    I also got a razer naga when they 1st came out not a bad mouse but I found the build quality to be pretty bad 1st one only lasted 6 month 2nd one a little longer so gave up and got the Logitech G600 when that came out, feels a much better built than the razer.
    That gives me a stupid number of buttons to play with, I find it easier than using modifiers on all my binds, I still use some mod binds but saves me getting too confused.

  9. DisRuptive1 says:

    Since you’re open to UI advice (according to your reply to Znuff), you really should get rid of the MSBT numbers. Don’t get rid of MSBT itself, just turn off most (if not all) the stuff it tells you. Do you really need to know your Consecration is ticking damage? Do you need to know when Crusader Strike has critically hit?

    If there’s anything you really need to know often, there are better mods that do a better job at telling you information. The only reason I use MSBT (besides it getting rid of a whole bunch of useless numbers I don’t care about) is so that I know when certain things come off cooldown if I can’t tell directly (Execution Sentence is hidden when I’m not holding down SHIFT so it’s nice to know when I can add it back into my mental priority list).

    Also, you didn’t mention which button is your Push-to-Talk button (or does your guild play silently)?

    • Jamie Turner says:

      looking at his keybinds i cant really see a comfortable place he could have PTT so id say its possible that he doesnt use it i know a few people that dont and as long as you have it set up right you dont hear their breathing or background noises its also possible he does what one of my guildies does and has a 2nd keyboard (actually just one of them usb numberpad things) and he has PTT bound to every key on that and he just mashes it with his foot

    • Theck says:

      Yeah, MSBT spam is something that I should really get rid of. Part of the reason I’ve kept it so long is because I use it to get a quick picture of how much things are hitting for. Especially outside of raids, where the spam is much less. In a raid, I don’t generally read any of it, but I might glance over at the boss damage section if I wanted a numerical estimate of how hard I’m getting hit. The other thing it can be useful for is knowing if your abilities miss/crit on the pull (and thus, whether threat will be an issue), but now that we hit/exp cap that’s much less of an issue than it was in past expansions.

      In practice, I’ve trained myself to basically look past all that spam, almost like staring through a screen door. I pretty much don’t even notice it. But it’s fairly limited in usefulness in raids.

      What I really ought to do is just have it switch off in raid instances, or potentially filter it such that only boss attacks and my primary abilities/crits are shown (i.e. suppress SoI healing, Consecration ticks, melee, etc.).

      I forgot to mention it, but my PTT key is the scroll wheel button (Mouse3).

  10. Jamie Turner says:

    i think the reason he colored ZXCV yellow in the ESDF diagram is because while they are easy to reach they are not easy to reach while having the top abilities 1-5 remain in easy reach or without doing some finger gymnastics atleast for me i don’t have the greatest hands though!

  11. Awyndel says:

    Looks like a pretty good setup. I couldn’t get this done for the life of me. Prolly one of the reasons I stopped raiding seriously.

    I do actually have a suggestion. I really like errorfilter. It can remove the red messages on top of the screen (spell not ready etc). It can use either a white or a black list, so you can customize the way you see fit. Don’t use the white list if you’re doing new quest content, there is usually items with unique messages.

    I also combined this with an addon that removes the fizzle sound effects when a spell is not ready ( I’m a key spammer ), but i can’t remember the name of the addon. It wasn’t technically an addon, but a file mod. It also removed some flying sounds etc. This is ofc not important for ppl who play without sound.

    I suppose I’m a bit allergic to spam on my screen/in my ears. It’s up to preference I guess.

    • Theck says:

      Funny you should mention that, since posting this (specifically while annotating the screenshot) I realized that error text was showing up. It’s mostly from spamming CS. I had a macro that suppressed that (only on CS), but it got shuffled around and/or deleted somewhere in MoP (probably when I transferred to Tich, or else when I was updating my UI for 5.0). I ended up installing ErrorFilter to suppress only that message (and the other ones of similar ilk) so that I don’t need a macro. I still like having the rarer error messages show up, so ErrorFilter was perfect for letting me fine-tune that.

      The funny thing is that I basically didn’t even notice it, because I had just mentally filtered all of that spam out as background. I’m rather good at that sort of thing though – when I focus on something, I tend to block out everything else that’s going on to an extreme degree (to the chagrin of my fiancee, I assure you). It makes me an excellent tunneler, but is a serious hindrance to multi-tasking. That’s one of the things that I’ve actively had to compensate for while raiding, especially while tired, because I’ll slip into a lazy tunneling mode and miss things. That’s also factored into how I build my UI to some extent – there are subtle arrangements and placements there that intentionally distract me from tunneling in order to bring my attention to where it needs to be.

  12. Epimer says:

    I know there’s tons wrong with my UI, but it’s easier to criticize than look inwardly, isn’t it? :)

    Unit frames: you’ve got loads you don’t need on there. Loads. Your own character name. Do you need absolute and percentage health? Absolute and percentage mana? Boss mana amount? All those duplicate target/target of target cast bars? Target portrait? What functional information is provided by seeing Warlock debuffs on your target?

    I think unit frames are an oft-overlooked very efficient place to show relevant buffs and debuffs in a compact way. I don’t think your setup does this at all. In fact I think those unit frames are probably the biggest wasted space in the UI.

    Count how many times you can see an Arcane Velocity cast bar on your screen. In fact, there’s lots of duplicate information on your screen. Look where information is doubled up and consider which is the best place for it and remove the rest.

    The Action Bar setup just makes me really twitchy. There’s so many things you just don’t need to see, particularly in combat. What use are action bar buttons which are i) far from your character and ii) have their cooldown information shown in a Weak Aura (I also don’t think the WA setup is a hugely efficient use of space, but horses for courses)?

    Do you need to see the threat information for the top seven people on the threat table?

    Do you need to know “Spell not available”? Is that not obvious from a cooldown (or GCD) display?

    Are those buff bars actually any more visually useful than even the default buff display?


    I’m not sure your UI actually meets your stated goal; I suspect familiarity is what makes it work for you rather than any kind of objective clarity (I remember thinking the same about Treckie’s UI! I know that the most useful thing I get out of screenshots of my own UI is the opportunity to try and be a bit more critical when I’m not focusing on all the other things that are going on when I’m actually using it; time for a reevaluation?

    • Theck says:

      I actually completely disagree with you on most of this. Especially the unit frame part. I spent a lot of time customizing my unit frame layout so that it provides me with all of the information I want.

      For example, do I need both % and absolute health? Yes! Absolutely I do, especially on the target frame. Because those two numbers tell me completely different things. One tells me when I can use Hammer of Wrath, and gives me a rough idea of boss health. But if I want to know whether we can burn a boss down in 15 seconds (i.e. to beat enrage), I care more about the absolute health value, because I have a conceptual idea of what our overall RDPS is in terms of “millions of damage per second,” not “% of boss health per second.”

      Similarly, I want both % and absolute mana on there, because it’s a generic power bar. There have historically been bosses that use different power types, and knowing how much they had affected how you handled certain abilities.

      And yes, I think it’s essential to know if there’s warlock debuffs on my target. Have you ever tried to CC a mob, only to find out it’s got a DoT on it? I have. That’s why those indicators are there. I can quickly see whether the target can be CC-ed or not, which makes it easier to make informed split-second decisions (ex: in challenge modes). While you can’t see it in that screenshot, my debuffs appear enlarged on the target frame, which lets me easily see if anything I’ve put on the boss is still active.

      The target of target and ToToT frames are similarly important, because in general they aren’t always duplicates. Target and ToToT can be (and on single-boss encounters often will be), but not always, especially on bosses that have a randomly-targeted ability I might want to react to. The ToT frame and the associated debuff bar is essential for effective taunt swaps – I can always see how many stacks of a given debuff show up on my co-tank in the ToT frame when I’m not tanking, which tells me whether I should taunt or not.

      The cast bars make sense in that context – if all 4 frames can be different units, then it’s useful to have that information available. In the general case, I wouldn’t see three copies of it, I’d see the enemy cast bar in the center of my screen as well as the one on the target frame. That said, there’s even a logic behind this – enemy cast bars are *important*. If I’m glancing down at the unit frame, I might miss the enemy cast bar in the center of the screen, which could lead to a missed interrupt. Having it in both places makes it much harder for that to occur. There’s a certain amount of “information redundancy” that is useful, despite your assertion that it isn’t. 😛

      And note that the unit frames generally adhere to my “size=importance” principle. Important stuff like the health bar, percentage health is very large, so I can see it at a glance. Less important stuff like the mana representations or name are smaller.

      The action bar setup probably makes you twitchy because you use your action bars differently than I do. I rarely, if ever, look at those during combat. In fact, that’s part of the reason for the viewport division: stuff below the black line is stuff I more or less don’t look at in combat. My action bars are a bit of a scratch pad – it’s a space for me to organize my abilities and put commonly-used stuff (often out-of-combat stuff) in an easily-accessible place for daily activities. I much prefer to have extra space so I can slap a temporary macro or one-off ability on there temporarily (for example, seeds for planting, or archaeology digs, or even bulk enchant material conversion). I frequently swap macros around to different keybinds between bosses (or even during a boss, if I’ve forgotten to do so ahead of time), so having that sort of flexibility is critical to how I play.

      Regarding the error messages: “Spell not available” spam is from spamming CS. I used to have a macro that suppressed that, but at some point I deleted it and never re-wrote it. Since that screenshot, I’ve installed an error-filtering addon, which shuts that one off. And that’s genuinely an improvement in readability, because I do use the in-game error text as another information source (i.e. “you cant do that while mind-controlled” or what not).

      If you’re talking about the Raven buff bars, then yes, they’re much more useful than the in-game defaults. The text is much larger (again, at-a-glance information availability) and they’re sorted and filtered in a logical fashion so that things are easier to find. In a raid environment you’d use neither version very much because there’s simply too much going on, but by filtering out my own buffs I can easily see all of the things that I can directly control.

      So, no, I absolutely disagree with you about pretty much everything in your post. It should be clear from both my UI and my post that I’m not a minimalist. Even the ChocolateBar setup at the top and bottom of the screen betray that fact. I am very big on having as much information available as possible at any given time. I don’t like having to dig through addons to find things, in or out of combat.

      However, there’s a balance to be struck there too. The information should be available, but it also has to be presented logically according to use. Out-of-combat stuff that I don’t use generally goes on ChocolateBar, or in the black panel at the bottom of the screen. I try to spread the information out into zones, and scale it according to how I use it. Things I glance at quickly have to be big, things that I only care about when I have time on my hands can be smaller since they’re not as urgent. I don’t think anything about my setup violates those principles too egregiously.

      But it’s very possible that you just have a very different aesthetic than I do. I couldn’t play with a minimalist setup like what you’re suggesting. It just doesn’t present enough of the information that I use to make decisions, and would handicap me as a player. For example, getting rid of the ToT or ToToT frames would cripple me, because I look at them frequently to make decisions. Similarly for the cast bars, the small Raven “important buff” bar near the center of the screen, or the WeakAuras HUD. I could hide ALL of my action bars and still play almost flawlessly (again, I don’t really look at them much), but then it’s a pain to do anything on-the-fly with macros or ability swaps. And so on.

      That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to build a UI, of course. There are people who are wildly successful with minimalist UIs. But I’m just not one of those people. That also might explain why you had similar feelings about Treckie’s setup – he’s probably similar to me, in that he wants certain bits of information available that you feel are less important.

  13. Lastwolf says:

    I’m not sure I like where all your abilities are they are somewhat counter to how I set things up and I’m not sure I could hack the ESDF thing, but the ideas are good and have made me think a lot on my own bindings.

    For example I’ve been using my mouse keys, for tank cooldowns, but when I think about it it, your right makes more sense on the keyboard. I often have difficulty keeping my rotation up and moving at the same time (my judgement is 1 and crusader strike is 2, SotR 3 etc), this would be a massive quality of life change that I somehow have over looked completely.

    So it’s indirect as I’m not copying your setup at all, but thanks for posting this, it has helped me at any rate.

    • Theck says:

      There’s actually a complementary version to what I do: I know some players that move entirely with their mouse, and don’t use ESDF or WASD for movement at all. They use the left and right mouse buttons for moving forward, and mouse4/mouse5 for strafing. That lets them use all of the keyboard for abilities. It’s a neat idea, but probably not something I’d be able to adapt to easily after years of FPS gaming on ESDF. Also, I think I’d miss the ability to move while also click-targeting mobs’ nameplates.

  14. Oxboy says:

    Theck, where are your debuffs in your UI? Meaning the ones inflicted on you, not the ones you put?

  15. Meh says:

    Your UI is filled with useless information. Ofc it can work becuase the usefull information is in the middle but its neither good nor pretty.
    First, get rid of that window viewpoint crap or if you think u need more screen space put all your bars into it.
    What u do is cluttering it with useless buttons and dps meter, both are useless for u as a tank and u wont need more then 30buttons, think about shit, ctrl, alt macroing the shit instead of putting one button for everything.

    The timerbars on the buffs are wtf ugly and useless, theres no need to even show buffs because with 25m raiding you should have all anyway so just leave it blizz standard a nd dont waste memory and space on them.

    The bar at the top is totally useless, press “b” if you want to see how much gold u have;)

    You dont need quest objectives open in a raid fight.

    I dunno about you but i dont need the minimap in the “important” zone at the bottom, i had that too years ago but i came to the conclusion that its useless and stupid.

    I wont bitch on the debuffs from other classes, probably your a genious and able to see and analyse them, most people dont need to see them though, show yours and thats it or use some weak aura for the 2you need to know off.

    Theres no fitting textures at all, its overall really ugly and thrown together instead of a nice and well done UI but thats not the important stuff if you like it since its yours.

    What i like is the weakaura paladin thing which is awesome and actually its about all that you need to know, blizz ui+this beats yours by far since u can move the target frame to the bottom anyway.

    Dont get my wrong nearly everything on your blog is AWESOME information and most of the text is too but your UI aint good and stuff like ElvUi or Blizzard beats it with zero time invested.

    • Theck says:

      You’re misinterpreting why I use the viewport, for starters. It’s not to get more screen real estate for those addons. It’s to be able to see them (and chat) better, primarily. I also don’t like having the action bars covering up part of my visible space at all – I use a very large monitor, so chopping off the bottom 10% isn’t a problem at all.

      I also disagree with your definition of useless. Recount isn’t useless at all. I may not check it regularly during battle (which is why it’s at the bottom of the screen, out of the way), but I do glance at it occasionally if there’s something I want to know (example: how is my DPS compared to the other tank – not critical for progression, but something I may care to know). Recount’s real value is out-of-combat though – being able to check on what other players are doing to determine whether they’re meter whoring or doing their jobs.

      Similarly, the action bars are not at all useless. You’ve assumed they’re all bound to keys – they aren’t. Probably 2/3 of those buttons don’t even have a key bind. I generally use them as drop-in/drop-out space for macros, items, mounts, etc. They’re so I have a handy place to put spells or macros on-the-fly without having to make space.

      Your main objection seems to be that things are “ugly.” That’s completely subjective – you probably like a minimalist UI. I don’t. I like having all the information I could want at my fingertips without digging through menus or interface panels. I build my UI around *all* of my WoW playing, not just combat. The bars at top and bottom provide mostly out-of-combat information, and they don’t interfere with combat at all because they become non-interactive. And I’ve played with that setup so long that I literally *do not see them* during combat, much like the MSBT text.

      Disagree completely on the debuff/buff bars. The blizzard ones are hopelessly insufficient for raiding. The ability to filter alone is a huge improvement, and one I couldn’t live without. The longer debuff bars let me actually see the name of what’s on me (as opposed to tiny icons), which makes it easier to figure out what’s happening on progression pulls. The filtering lets me see important cooldowns in the center where they grab my attention rather than off in some corner.

      Quest objectives are generally collapsed during combat, I think those expanded by accident because of picking up a sigil of power.

      I can see the point of the minimap, but again, I think you’re mistaken. The bottom section (below the viewport) is NOT part of the “important” zone at all. It’s the section I don’t look at in combat, for the most part, so that’s the most logical place to put unnecessary things like Recount and the map. My eyes tend to stay well above that bar – mentally the black bar is a mental dividing line, and my brain knows not to stray below it thanks to years of raiding with this UI.

      Seeing debuffs on your target is similarly important in heroics/challenge modes. Knowing when your target has a bleed or DoT often means the difference between wasting time on a CC ability or not, or whether to pick it up or leave it alone if someone else has applied CC.

      Again, you’re welcome to your opinion, but “ugly” is subjective and your definition of “good” is dubious, because as far as I can tell it means “lacking in useful information.” You’re welcome to play with a minimalist UI that doesn’t give you the information you need to play at your peak performance – I’ll take slightly ugly and effective over pretty and ineffective any day.

  16. sh420 says:

    Many, many thanks Theck for taking the time to answer my, and I’m sure lots of others, request for this cracking information. I’ve been a long-time clicker too and only recently moved to keybinds and still getting used to it. Your post here has certainly helped tune my own ui and keybind
    I certainly appreciate what you;ve done here- thank you again.

  17. Oxboy says:

    Theck, a couple of questions about your UI:
    – do you care about the cooldowns/availability of your interrupts? Don’t see anything front and center for HoJ, BL, Rebuke etc. Not sure that’s a raid priority, but just curious.
    – also same question about our taunt.

    Or do you just wing it with these and hope they’re up when you mash?

    • Theck says:

      Those I pretty much wing. Rebuke and HoJ are both on the top row of action bars, right by my health frame, so if I actually care I can check there. I got so used to having two taunts that I never really paid much attention to the cooldown on either of them, and so far it hasn’t been a huge issue. Blinding Light… to be honest, I can count how many times I’ve cast it so far this expansion on one hand. I just haven’t had much occasion to use it, I pretty much forget it exists.

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  19. Des says:

    Hi thanks for your post! I’m not a minimalist either and I really like a lot of the things you’ve done with your UI. Two things I can’t figure out are:
    (A) How you got the Map to be at the bottom and in a square instead of circle. Pretty sure it’s not Bartender because I wouldn’t know how to do it in that addon.
    (B) How you got the black strip at the top to have the “grid” addon icon, gold and all that stuff in one little black strip… I don’t think it’s weak aursas. Similarly there’s another black strip at the bottom of the screen that says some system info and wipe count etc.

    Really curious how you got those to work because it would be nice if I could get that done too. I know it’s been a long time since this post, but hopefully you can help. Thank you.

  20. Oraclecow says:

    I’ve played wow for a year, and your UI setup is really wow, lol
    i insisted on using no UI modifiers because i think it would be a pain to setup each ones according to the class i’m playing with, but i see u have all classes with weakauras, i think that would be interesting to try.

    To those that are thinking to buy a new gaming gadget, i would like to suggest Logitech G600 too, it has 12×2 custom buttons at the side, more around the mouse actually, it’s very handy, i could put 2 bars worth of spells on it. The keyboard G110 or the likes is quite useful for out of combat convenience, since , i bought it for the backlightings, my situation requires me to play with most of the lights off, so i need to know where are my buttons, lol.

    And lastly, last week i accidentally found the Logitech G13, the small custom keyboard, or palmboard you could say, its like that new razer product, it has 22 key custom keys, total custom, i dont think it has any use outside gaming, the thumb joystick pad is quite comfy, not as bad as i thought, but i’m not sure whether if i can use only it for movements, the joystick middle button is rather hard to press though. i bought it out of curiosity, and still struggling to custom it along with arranging my new keybindings. this is handy if like me, you’re worried about getting confused with WoW basic keybindings. btw, i removed all pet controls in my keybindings though, never been a good pet user class player here.

    Those three gear i purchased were bought over around a year span of time. I’m not here to brag about my gaming gears though, its just that after seeing this post i got more ideas on those things, so, thanks Theck. hope this post gives some people on which gear to priotize.

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  22. chzo says:

    Thanks for this blog I find it really really useful!
    What addon makes that black bar at the bottom of the screen?

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