Hacking WoW: Custom Interfaces and other Tweaks

James Whitehead

In our first excerpt from the ExtremeTech book Hacking World of Warcraft, you’ll learn how to use Bongos, Bartender, CensusPlus, ClearFont2, Cooldown Timer Bars, MonkeyMods, and more. Feel free to download chapter 1 from this book: ” Introduction to WoW Modding ” [PDF].

Even though this is a catchall chapter of sorts, it contains some of the

most important addons out there, ranging from tiny tweaks to

massive overhauls of your entire interface. A number of them allow

you to reconfigure your action bars. In addition, they change your fonts,

modify your quest window, allow you to click-cast, and analyze the population

of your server, among many other things. Two of them provide modular

operating-system-like info-bars at the top or bottom of your screen. In most

cases, they give you an extra level of control over your interface or improve

upon Blizzard’s default offering.

Rearranging Elements of the Default Interface

A few addon packages are available that offer similar overall features: They

break up the bar at the bottom of the screen, offer great flexibility in terms

of rearranging its elements, and give you more action bars to work with.

Each package differs in the details though, and ultimately what’s right for

you comes down to personal preference.


Addon created and maintained by Tuller

The Bongos package provides a complete replacement for the menu bar

that’s normally at the bottom of the default user interface. In addition, you

can place up to 120 action buttons (divided into bars of variable amounts)

anywhere you want onscreen, adjust their layout, and rescale them individually.

You can also move around the minimap, casting bar, and a number

of other built-in frames. Bongos has an intuitive, friendly interface in which

each frame has its own right-click options panel for adjusting settings. It’s

also completely modular, so you only have to load the specific modules

that you need (see Table 1).

Using Bongos

Your interface might look a little cluttered right after installing Bongos (see Figure 1), so you

will need to invest some time to set things up the way you want them.

First of all, if the options panel isn’t already open, bring it up with /bob or /bongos .Then, on

the General tab, there’s an option to Lock Bar Positions. This master control (when disabled)

allows you to select and drag any of the Bongos frames, as well as right-click on them for further

options (like scaling, alpha, and spacing).

If the Sticky Bars option is enabled (a great feature, by the way) the frame you’re moving will

latch on to another frame, if you drop it close enough. Using Sticky Bars means that when one

frame latches on to another, its name will turn from yellow to blue. The color change means it’s

parented to the yellow frame it’s touching, so if you move the yellow one, the blue one will follow

along. You can chain multiple frames together like this and move whole groups of them as

a single block. Don’t forget to lock the frames when you’re done.


Make sure to check out the remaining tabs on the Bongos control panel (Profiles, Visibility,

ActionBars, Paging, Stances, and Bindings). You can save and load profiles, toggle the visibility

of individual bars, tweak what information shows up on the action buttons, adjust paging

(scrolling through action bars), and set up self-casting. The Bindings tab allows you to set key

bindings directly by clicking on individual action buttons. Also make sure you right-click on

each frame at least once, because they all have a different assortment of settings. Continued…

Addon created and maintained by Nevcairiel

Bartender3 is for the minimalists and perfectionists out there. Also, if your interface is primarily

built around the Ace2 library, you’ll naturally want to use this mod to reconfigure your bars.

Bartender3 has all the controls you’d expect: movement, scaling, toggling, horizontal and vertical

layouts, and transparency. A notable feature is borderless bars, giving your interface a more

modern, squared-off look.

Bartender3’s slash-command system (use /bartender3 , /bar , or /bt3 ) isn’t too bad actually,

following the in tradition of Ace2 mods. If you use any of the commands alone you’ll get the

help, which provides a useful list of which bar is which. However, you don’t need to use the

slash-command system to accomplish everything.When you unlock the bars (type /bar lock ),

they turn green and you can drag them around with your mouse. Once they’ve been unlocked,

you can right-click on them to bring up a contextual menu which allows you to control every

option individually for each bar (see Figure 2). Once you have everything set up the way you

want, type /bar lock again to lock everything in place.



Addon created and maintained by Maul

TrinityBars goes a little above and beyond Bongos and Bartender3. It has the same basic functionality;

you can move, rescale, and reconfigure all your actions bars and menus. Its controls

are slightly different though. Right after installing the mod, all your bars will be stacked neatly

in the center of the screen and unlocked.When you click on a bar, controls for it will appear on

the right and left, and the value for each control will appear in the tooltip when you hover your

cursor over it, as well as a description of what it does.

I’m not going to cover all of TrinityBars’ features here, but there are a few visual settings that

might sell you on the mod. First of all, there are four styles of buttons you can choose from for

each bar, some of which are very unique and flashy.When you have a bar selected, you can

click on the small, round recycle button to the left of it to cycle between styles. Figure 3

compares all four of the available styles.


Furthermore, there are a number of pre-made layouts as well. In addition to the basic horizontal

and vertical configurations, there’s a circular arrangement and arcs in various orientations. These

predefined layouts are unique to the mod (see Figure 4).

To switch between layouts, use the

curved arrow buttons on the left side. Each layout supports a variable number of buttons.


The hub of TrinityBars’ options and settings is its minimap icon; left-click on it and seven

additional buttons will swivel into place surrounding it. They’ll disappear if you click on the

center button again. You can also right-click on it to open a large options panel directly.

On the Web: A comprehensive document with all of TrinityBars’ instructions is available online . Continued…

Addon created by Ian Pieragostini, maintained by Rollie

Blizzard doesn’t advertise the population of its World of Warcraft servers, other than giving

them the less-than-precise rankings of High, Medium, and Low. Furthermore, there’s no

way to find out the breakdown of levels, classes, or races on a server.While you can’t access

Blizzard’s server data directly, you’re given a decent tool for locating and browsing through the

other members of your little world: the /who command. This command returns the level, race,

class, guild, and location of any player matching its arguments. If more than a few results are

returned, the /who interface is opened, which provides a scrollable list of up to 50 characters.

Still not satisfied? CensusPlus takes the /who command one step further.

By selectively narrowing the parameters of consecutive, automated /who queries, CensusPlus

effectively collects information about everyone on your server. Since the /who command has

a cooldown of a few seconds, queries are automatically executed on a timer, and an entire scan

takes only two or three minutes. Granted, a character has to be playing in order to be counted—

CensusPlus doesn’t take into account the thousands of dormant characters—but despite this,

the addon is still a significant statistical tool. Plus, you can rescan whenever you want, picking

up new characters and updating existing ones.

On the Web: On WarcraftRealms , which is affiliated with the CensusPlus

addon, you can browse collected census information from the Horde and Alliance sides of every

realm, as well as submit the data you’ve already collected. Their database is large, and is a good

way to find out if one faction outnumbers another on a particular server. This is also the only

place to download the most recent version of the addon.

Using CensusPlus

CensusPlus is simple and straightforward to use. The addon adds a button to the minimap

with a large yellow C on it, which you can click to open or close the main interface. Once open,

the first thing you’ll want to do is take a census with the button at the bottom-left corner. Note

that unless the Verbose option is enabled, you won’t get any feedback about the task’s progress

until it’s finished.With Verbose on, you’ll see each automatic /who query as it’s made.

When the scan is finished, the areas of the frame for race, class, guild, and level are populated

(see Figure 5). The race, class, and level area are presented as bar graphs, showing how each

element compares to the others. Guilds are sorted by experience (the combined level of all

characters). You can select up to one element in each category in order to filter the information

that’s displayed. For example, click the Orc button and the bar graphs for class and level adjust

to reflect only Orcs. The Show Chars button opens a list of characters that satisfy the currently

selected set of filters. The other buttons at the bottom of the window stop an active scan, Prune

the database of characters that haven’t been seen in a while, or Purge the database entirely.


Configuring CensusPlus

The CensusPlus configuration panel can be opened with the button on the upper-right corner

of the main interface. Each option is simple enough, and the defaults will serve you just fine. If

you turn the Verbose mode on, you can monitor the progress of a scan, but if you have the

addon set up to run in the background, you should probably leave it off. You can also control

most of the options with slash commands; use /census , /census+ , or /censusplus and

refer to the following list of options (see Table 2).

On the Web: Shortly after the launch of The Burning Crusade, Blizzard created The Armory , a section of

their website that allows you to search for and view character profiles, guild rosters, and

arena rankings. While you can’t get the same realm-specific breakdowns that CensusPlus

provides, it’s still an interesting and useful service for examining individual characters. Continued…

Changing the Default Fonts with ClearFont2

Addon created and maintained by Kirkburn

ClearFont2 gives you a convenient means of replacing the game’s default user-interface fonts.

The default settings definitely provide increased readability over the standard fonts (see

Figure 6). Furthermore, ClearFont2 comes with a number of additional fonts, which can be

cycled-through in-game with a very simple options interface.


On the Web: Visit the ClearFont website for the latest updates. As of this writing,

it’s the only place to get ClearFont2 (as opposed to ClearFont).

To switch between fonts and adjust the addon’s other settings (including the default font size

and whether or not the new fonts should be applied to addons), right-click on the CF button

that’s been added to the minimap. A small drop-down menu opens. Settings can alternately be

controlled via slash commands; use /cf , /clearfont , /cf2 , or /clearfont2 . ClearFont2 is

an Ace2 addon.

Tracking All Your Cooldowns in One Place with Cooldown Timer Bars

Addon created and maintained by astraycat

Cooldown Timer Bars (abbreviated CDT, not CTB) is a simple addon for monitoring all of

your cooldowns in the same place, and in status bar form (see Figure 7). The addon was

completely rewritten in its second version in order to utilize Ace2 and CandyBar (a status bar

library). Basically, whenever you have a spell that’s cooling down, a status bar appears for it and

slowly drains. You can configure the appearance of the bars, and there’s also an alert feature (off

by default), which will flash the name of a spell onscreen whenever it’s ready to be used again.

The addon has very little necessary setup, although you can tweak it to your heart’s content.

You might want to use the /cdt anchor command when you first install the addon so you

can position it where you want onscreen.


Configuring CDT

All slash-command options are issued using /cdt .Typing the command alone will print a list

of commands to the default chat window. They’re also outlined in Tables 3, 4, and 5. Continued…

Addon created and maintained by Daniel Rehn

The size of the default quest window can be frustrating. Once you leave the newbie zones

and venture out into the larger world, you quickly approach the quest limit.With only six

lines of text to display all of your quests, things can feel a bit cramped. Fortunately, Extended

QuestLog (EQL) splits the frame and places the list and descriptions side-by-side, giving you

a whole lot more room to view both (see Figure 8).With the addon enabled, you’ll almost

never need to scroll the list. In addition, EQL comes with a configurable tracker that lets you

track as many quests as you want (compared to the default interface’s limit of five).


Using EQL

EQL completely replaces the default quest frame.Trust me, you won’t miss it.When you first

open the quest log you’ll be presented with a list of your quests that is much larger than before.

When you click on one of them, the panel will expand to display the quest’s description on the

right. You can minimize or maximize the window (show or hide the description) with a button

in the upper-right corner next to the close button. If you click the Options button, the control

panel will open, allowing you to configure much of the addon’s behavior and appearance,

including its location and tracker (see Figure 9).


Using the EQL Quest Tracker

The EQL tracker functions identically to the default one (see Figure 10); Shift+click on a

quest to track it, and then Shift+click again to remove it. You can Ctrl+Shift+click a quest to

add it to the EQL tracker and remove all other tracked quests at the same time. The tracker

itself starts off in the center of the screen, so you’ll probably want to click and drag it out of the

way and into a more permanent position. Beyond that, you can configure the tracker in the

options panel; its colors and symbols can be changed, quests can be automatically added to it,

and it can be locked in place, among a few other things. Continued…


Addon created and maintained by Vashen

FastQuest adds a number of small, toggleable features related to questing and the built-in quest

tracker. Primarily, the addon allows you to automatically notify the people you’re questing with

about your progress. This is useful when doing collection quests with a group, so you don’t have

to keep asking each other how many skulls (or feathers or widgets) everyone has. Additionally,

FastQuest increases the number of colors used to indicate quest difficulty, allows you to relocate

the quest tracker, and displays quest levels in the quest log. Each option is controlled by a slash

command (see Table 6); use /fastquest or /fq . Continued…

Addons created and maintained by Trentin

MonkeyMods is a small collection of addons that have all been developed by the same author,

but there aren’t quite enough of them to consider it a full-blown compilation. The two most

comprehensive components are MonkeyQuest, a highly tweakable quest tracker replacement,

and MonkeyBuddy, which is used to configure all the MonkeyMods. The package comes with

six components in total (see Table 7).

Using MonkeyQuest

MonkeyQuest is sort of a quest tracker/quest log hybrid that lists all of your quests, their objectives,

their levels, and their zones. Everything is color-coded and organized (see Figure 11).

Every zone listed has a little plus or minus next to it, which can be clicked to expand or contract

the quests in that zone. Each quest listed also has a little checkbox next to it; if unchecked,

the quest will disappear. In the upper-right corner of the frame is another little checkbox; if

checked, all previously hidden items will be displayed.


If you mouse-over a quest, its details will be shown in the tooltip. Left-clicking on a quest will

open MonkeyQuestLog, a detailed (and resizable) view of the quest’s complete information

(see Figure 11). Finally,MonkeyQuest can be dragged around by any of its empty space or

by its border.

Note: MonkeyClock and MonkeySpeed don’t really need their own sections, because they’re just

about as simple as addons come. Drag them into place and lock them if you want to keep them

around. MonkeyBuddy has a few useful options for each one.

Configuring MonkeyMods with MonkeyBuddy

Right under the minimap (next to the zoom buttons) there’s a little monkey icon. Click on it to

open MonkeyBuddy, the MonkeyMods configuration panel (see Figure 12). Alternatively,

you can right-click on the MonkeyQuest, MonkeyClock, or MonkeySpeed frames.To remove

the little monkey, type the command /mbdismiss .To get it back, type /mbcall .


MonkeyBuddy has three tabs that you can use to configure the three previously mentioned

addons (MonkeyQuestLog has no configuration yet). All settings are spelled out expertly and

are very straightforward (although MonkeyQuest sure does have a lot of them). You should also

know that the default quest log and tracker are unaffected by this addon package.

On the Web: MonkeyMods has its own website/blog called .toctastic! where you can download the latest versions of the mods and receive updates about them.


Addon created by Aelian, maintained by Sephyx

TheoryCraft does a few different things, notably the following:

Allows you to add virtually any statistic pertaining to a spell to its tooltip. For example:

damage / mana, resist rate, chance of critical hit, and so on.

Allows you to place one of the aforementioned values directly on spell action buttons.

For example, you could have each spell’s button labeled with the average amount of damage

that the spell causes, or its total cost in mana.

Allows you to examine your vital statistics under several different conditions, including

your current armor, no armor, your target’s armor, or various endgame sets.

Each of these features is controlled by a jam-packed control panel.

Modifying Spell Tooltips

By default, the addon integrates each spell’s damage per second (DPS) and crit chance into the

tooltip. However, if it’s raw numbers you’re after, there’s a whole lot more statistics that you can

enable.Type /tc or /theorycraft to bring up the visual interface, and select the Tooltip tab

for now. This panel allows you to enable/disable any of the listed statistics. If you’re feeling

confused, each setting has a decent mouse-over explanation to help you out. You probably don’t

want to enable everything (see Figure 13); simply enable the values that are useful to you

and/or you understand.


Placing Statistics on Your Action Buttons

The default setting here is to place average damage or average heal values (whichever are available)

on the action buttons, which you may have already noticed. However, you’re welcome to

select which values are displayed from a longish list of possible stats. This feature is controlled

on the Button Text tab of the visual interface (see Figure 14). There are two stats to select;

if the first one isn’t available, then the second one will be used. Next to each is a drop-down

menu to select the precision (for example, average damage is fine with a precision of 1, but

damage per mana needs a much finer setting like 0.01). Below this is an intuitive interface for

positioning the numbers on the buttons; just drag the large 1000 around and your action buttons

will update immediately. Check one of the boxes next to the 1000 to justify it to the right

or left. You can also set the size, font, and color.


Checking Your Vitals While Wearing Various Kinds of Equipment

Finally, on the third tab (Vitals) you can view a rundown of your character’s statistics and a list

of talents that affect them.However, you can also modify this information by simulating wearing

different equipment. There are a number of choices from the drop-down menu at the bottom

of the frame. If you choose Custom, another frame will appear to the left, which allows you to

define your hypothetical outfit (see Figure 15). It explains how to populate the list or overwrite

a slot (by Alt+clicking items or links). You can also populate it with your current equipment

or your target’s (if they’re close enough to you). Back in the main window, you can also

select from a number of your class’s endgame sets.We can all dream , can’t we? Continued…


In a similar style to the bars that adorn modern operating systems (Windows’ taskbar and

Mac OS X’s menubar), a couple of addon packages are available that add info-rich, highly

configurable bars to the WoW interface. Both offerings operate on a plug-in model, allowing

additional addons to expand the bars with more features than they ship with.Which should

you choose? It’s a tough decision; try both. FuBar is built around the popular and speedy Ace2

system, whereas Titan Panel has been around for a longer amount of time. Both have a large

library of user-created plug-ins.

Titan Panel

Addon created and maintained by Adsertor

Titan panel’s built-in features aren’t exactly built-in; they’re simply plug-ins that are distributed

along with the core package. The Titan folder is the core of the addon, and all the rest

(TitanAmmo,TitanBag,TitanClock, and so on) are plug-in modules. The built-in modules’

directories actually contain little more than TOC files that point to files within the Titan folder

itself, enabling each module to be disabled or enabled from the Addon List.

When you first enter the game, you’ll see two new Titan Panel bars, one on the top of your

screen and one on the bottom (see Figure 16). Several modules are enabled by default as

well. In general, modules are separated into two groups: Left Side modules, which are the main

informational plug-ins, and Right Side modules, which are utility features (like auto-hiding,

scaling, volume, and transparency). You can enable or disable modules on the fly by right-clicking

one of the bars in an empty place to bring up the main menu. Built-in modules are listed in a

special menu, and other plug-ins are sorted by category.When you enable a module, it will

always appear on the bar from which the menu was opened.


Modules consist of three parts: a display on the bar itself, a tooltip, and a menu. You can often

get more information pertaining to a module’s purpose by placing your mouse over its display

on the bar. By right-clicking its display, you can access its options menu, and from there you

can toggle its main settings, tweak how it’s displayed on the bar, or hide it altogether. You cannot

rearrange modules once they’re shown; instead, you need to re-enable them in the order

you wish them to appear.

The main menu (found by right-clicking in an empty spot) is also used to configure the core

Titan Panel options (see Figure 17). Here, you can choose whether you want to enable the

top bar, bottom bar, or both. You can also toggle a number of other settings relating to the

addon’s appearance.


Using additional Titan Panel plug-ins is as simple as downloading and installing them just like

any other addon. A search for Titan on the addon websites will return more results than you

can handle. Most plug-ins are named in the form:

Titan Panel [Plugin Name]

You may have to enable new Titan Panel plug-ins in-game before they show up on the bar. If

installed properly, they should appear in Titan Panel’s main menu under one of the categories.

Simply toggle them on to start using them.


Addon created and maintained by ckknight

Unlike Titan Panel, FuBar doesn’t come with any modules by default. You can load the addon

up, but it won’t do anything interesting. However, a simple search for FuBar will return numerous

plug-ins. Most FuBar plug-ins are named in the form:

FuBar – PluginName

There’s also a download called the FuBar Starter Pack, which contains many popular FuBar

plug-ins to get you started; I recommend installing this pack just to get the hang of the addon.

When you load up the game, you’ll see two bars, one on top and one on the bottom (just like

Titan Panel); however FuBar’s bars are thinner and less embellished (see Figure 18). Unlike

Titan Panel, you can drag various elements around; similarly-aligned modules can be

rearranged on the bar by dragging them. You can also drag modules from one bar to another.

Finally, you can drag entire bars from either top to bottom or bottom to top.


The FuBar main menu is no surprise (see Figure 19); open it by right-clicking in an empty

space. It controls which modules are visible, overall options (such as creating and destroying

bars), and profiles. There’s also no limit to the number of bars you can have, because they will

simply stack with each other on the top or bottom of the screen when there’s more than one

of them. Bars can also be detached and dragged anywhere in between the top and bottom.

Because anything can be dragged (though perhaps accidentally), you can also lock panels to

prevent movement. You also have control over spacing, thickness, font size, and transparency.


Like Titan Panel, modules have bar displays, tooltips, and menus, all of which operate comparably.

However, FuBar has two rather unique additional features. First, tooltips can be

detached, which means they persist onscreen and can be moved around or locked in place (see

Figure 20). Second, modules can be moved to the minimap, which means they no longer

show up on a FuBar panel, but instead appear as minimap buttons. Each new button will have

the same tooltip, respond to the same clicks, have the same right-click menu, and can be

dragged around the border of the minimap by left-clicking.


FuBar is currently in its second version. It ships with an additional addon (called FuBar-compat-

1.2), which allows modules designed for older versions of FuBar to function. This compatibility

module requires the original Ace library .

Related articles:

Copyright © 2007 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in ExtremeTech.

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