There's one subject that comes up time and time again no matter how often it's covered, so I'll cover it now once and for all. That subject is UIs. I get asked about the add-ons that I use every day, but really, what I use shouldn't be of concern. What is however important to know are the key-parts to make a healer UI efficient and good.
The particular add-ons you choose to do the job are completely up to you.
First of all, and most importantly, you want raid frames. Raid frames represent at the very least the health bar of every single raid member in a compact and easy-to-see format. While tanks and even DPS probably still want to keep raid frames somewhere on their screen to have a general overview of how the raid is doing, they're absolutely essential to a healer. You want your raid frames to occupy a central space in your UI, but make sure they're not obstructing your character in any way.
below your character's feet or off to the side a little are ideal spots to place your raid frames. Healers most commonly use Grid, Vuhdo or Healbot for raid frames. Less commonly used because they're not specially directed at healers and harder to setup are Pitbull and Xperl.
You also want to set up your raid frames to very visibly show common raid instance debuffs, such as Lord Marrowgar's Bone Spikes, so you can immediately react to people taking damage.
Also fairly important, at least in a raiding environment, is a boss mod. Most commonly used are BigWigs or Deadly Boss Mods. Those alert you of boss abilities that are important to keep track of and especially important when you're concentrated on other things - such as raid frames. While this is not an absolute necessity if you're quick on your toes, most raiding guilds will require you to have boss mods.
Along with that, you might want to choose to deviate from the default interface when it comes to Player-, Target- and Focus frames to increase the visibility of important health and cast bars. I personally like having the boss we're fighting to be set as my focus, so I can observe what ability the boss in question is casting and react to it quicker. Pitbull and Xperl commonly get that job done - Pitbull is harder to customize but provides a lot more options, and Xperl is simpler to use but plain.
Some people (like me) like to adjust their cast bars and put them all over their screen in more convenient positions than the default UI allows you to. This is in no way necessary, but does allow you to open up more space in your interface. There are a lot of good bar mods out there. Most commonly used I hear of Bartender and Dominos.
Lastly, it's very useful to keep track of your own procs and cooldown timers. Various add-ons and dot-timers do this, but my favorites are PowerAuras and ForteXorcist. PowerAuras lets you create your own icons for any buff, debuff, proc or duration that you want to measure, so if you want to track anything without actually moving your eye from your raid frames, PowerAuras would be a good choice. ForteXorcist automatically tracks all your cooldown and buff-timers and aligns them on a simple bar for your convenience. This is obviously much simpler to use but provides less customization. Both add-ons do work well in conjunction and as mentioned, others get the job done as well, I just have no personal experience with them.
More or less optional add-ons for healers are damage/healing meters and threat meters, those are more important for DPS but do provide interesting statistics and info if you find room in your UI for them. Most commonly used are Recount and Skada for damage meters and Omen as threat meter.
Another very useful to have but by no means essential add-on is RatingBuster. This'll give you additional info on every piece of gear in the game based on your current gear and talents, so you can see at a glance if an item drop is actually going to be a decent upgrade for you or not. Saves you a lot of math and manual comparison and minimizes incidents where you take a piece of gear and then realize it really was a sidegrade at best.
Those are the very basic add-ons that help you heal better and in my personal view enhance your game experience, but as mentioned before, this boils down to personal style and needs. If you feel one of these helpers is completely superfluous for you, don't bother using it of course. You want to try to keep your UI as clean and uncluttered as possible while still having it provide essential information, else you're just hindering your own gameplay.
And no matter what else you decide to use - since you're going to be staring at your raid frames a good bit, make sure that they're in a spot that at the same time lets you observe your own feet so you minimize standing in bad things on the ground.
Nice post, as always, Aliena.
I like to use Mikscrolling battle text, if only because I already use it for my other characters. It's significantly less useful for healers, which is probably why you didn't mention it, but it's always nice to be able to glance at the scrolling heals and see what they're currently healing for. It's also useful for cleaner, customizable fields in which you can see the damage you might be taking and the buffs or debuffs that might be stacking. It can do a lot more, but I've found that most of the other things it can do are covered by addons such as Power Auras or not needed for healing.
But, Raid Frames, Unit Frames, Cast Bars, Bar Mods, Boss Mods and Buff/Debuff trackers are certainly an encompassing base for any healer.
I didn't mention it cause Blizzard provides a scrolling battle text in the default interface. Mik's certainly offers more and looks better, but for simplicity's sake, the in-game one does just fine.
I was thinking of doing a blog /article entry about this and you beat me to the punch and did a better job then I probably would!
One thing I would point out, since a lot of people don't like fiddling with their addons as much as I do, PowerAuras might seem too daunting a task to install and get to work right. However, it does also provide an Import and Export feature, allowing you to cut and paste someone else's work into your own UI. This feature alone makes PowerAuras invaluable, and the versatility it provides makes it almost a requirement.
You also forgot to mention Clique, although you can approximate its effect with on mouseover macros, but Clique provides a very simple means of setting up that utility. I couldn't heal without it.
I personally dislike Clique and by no means see it as essential. If someone is already relying on it, they don't need me to tell them about it.
Personally I dislike this statement alot in regards to mods. If you have to absolutely rely on mods to heal, then, at least in my mind, you are not as a good a player as you could be. They're a useful tool, but you shouldn't absolutely need them.
Originally Posted by Kindralas
I mean, what happens if one day all mods break and aren't updated? If you're relying on mods to play you're going to be screwed.
And yes, I have healed using the default UI before, had to when I got terrible fps if I used any mods.
Purists and Addon-ists talk aside (which imo has no bearing on this thread), the one thing I'd emphasize is positioning of UI elements. Having all of the essential information: raidframes, castbar, cd's, grouped in one area helps me a lot. My eyes don't have to travel back and forth the screen, lessening eye strain after several hours of raiding.
Mmm, down to the core, you would really just need boss mod and something useful enough to show debuffs. I think everything else is purely cosmetic.
Nope. While I love pretty things, all those things I mentioned make life easier & the person using them a better healer. What I use and yet DIDN'T mention is purely cosmetic.
I use many of those addons myself (No mouseovers. Don't really need them). I try to keep my healing UI somewhat close to my mages just to avoid a lot of confusion when I switch toons, but there are some subtle differences of course. They could use a little more cleaning up, but I haven't had to much trouble so far. Bartender, X-perl, and Boss Mods are very helpful, and Poweraura is priceless imo because I had trouble spotting a lot of my procs before I got it. Another thing I recommend is keybinding most of you spells. It's not essencial, but it saves time and that's always good. Other than that, it really comes down to personal preference. Do what works for you.
My personal thoughts involving healing specific AddOns (my choice being VuhDo) is that click-casting AddOns improve your reaction time and reduce Client Input->Server lag.
Without Click Casting: Target Person, Hit Spell on Action Bar, Heal. There's bound to be a slightly reduced reaction time and the possibility for more input lag.
With Click Casting: Click Person, Heal. You don't have to target anyone, no buttons to press, and from what I know, less chance for server lag to interfere.
Position-wise: I like to keep my raid frames centered, with Unitframes below them, boss mod warning slightly above, and Focus target to the left. As someone above me said, keeping things grouped like this allows me to quickly see what is happening, while keeping my screen open for me to avoid the fire.
I'd like to ad that if you have a bigger monitor 24"+ I found using sunn art frames and resizing view port to a smaller area leaving grid (healbot or whatever you prefer) at feet of the character. Makes it even cleaner. How ever if you do not have a big monitor with loads of pixels I'd go for the left/right'ish side option to easier see where you're standing.(defiles can be nasty stuff)
Use Pittbull on each side of grid (grid is in center below character ofc) in combination with quartz.
Quartz I think needs a mention as it is probably the easiest to setup most visible pleasing and informative cast bars.
Use clique myself as I got into the habit of click healing using healbot for 5 man leveling. When my character was all grown up I got a razor naga and realized I could not make use of all the buttons like I wanted with healbot.. installed grid made mouseover macros for my 12num buttons and clique for my left and right button (also disabled clique to work with any other frames than grid) this means I can essentially do everything with my mouse hand(this becomes instinct within a week or so) and focus my keyboard hand for moving.
Mouseover macros greatly reduce your on the go healing ability - I move with my mouse and on-the-go casting is terrible with mouseover macros. Also, people that don't use mouseover macros/click-casting add-ons pre-select their new target while still casting a spell on another, so you don't in fact lose any time at all. I'm not trying to bash people that like mouseovers/click-casting - what works for you works for you - but it presents no real upside or is necessary by any means, so you won't find me promoting it.
Originally Posted by Ulosthegame
Yes, you're absolutely correct, I noticed I forgot about that one after I posted. I'll alter it for the marmot I plan to use it in. Mainly looking for feedback on things I forgot here before I video it up. xD
Originally Posted by Mmiz
The downside that you quote is just as much preference as anything. I rarely, if ever, use my mouse to move, and Clique means that my left hand has nothing to do but move. Also, the concept behind Clique, which is to say, mouseover, is not unusable by someone who uses a mouse to move, you simply keybind on-mouseover macros. Not to mention that, on mouse movement in particular, you still have to use your mouse to target, regardless of whether you mouseover cast or target cast. Therefore, you're interrupting your movement the exact same amount either way.
Originally Posted by Aliena
Another advantage that mouseover has over the input issues described before is that it allows you to use your target frame for other things, such as tracking boss casts, interrupts and CC for those classes that are required to do so. There are very few true advantages to target casting, but there are a variety of advantages to mouseover casting.
There are healers who can do good work without mouseovers, but it's my belief, with a lot of experience backing it, as well as experience in training people on the subject, that any healer would be better if they learned to use mouseovers appropriately. Remember, always, that even the best player can still get better.
You'd be surprised what you can do on the go with click casting. I use a sort of hybrid click cast / not click cast healing style though, so whatever weakness I have with one style I make up for with the other. It makes my keybindings complex but I feel I have greater flexibility and reaction time with it. Now would I say it's required? Absolutely not, but I'd say its worth checking out and seeing if it fits for you.
Originally Posted by Aliena
I did, and it didn't!
Originally Posted by Amamaeth
This is just so wrong there is no justifiable downside to click casting or mouse over macros simply due to the mouse mechanics (ie you can't pan your camera with the mouse over raid frames and the cursor will dissapear). This affects 0 fights as predominantly healers can get out of the way by simply strafing.
Originally Posted by Aliena
Moving with the mouse well it really depends what you mean by this ( Panning and moving vs click to move vs the default middle mouse button), point is you can strafe out of 99.9% of situations (something you learn from tanking, aka backpeddle is bad). If you solely move with the mouse as in youve bound strafe to mouse buttons then ofcourse click casting presents no benefit but mouseover macros would still be adviseable.
Mousing over a target isn't pre-selecting im sorry but your statement lacks quallity in this regard, I played with mouse over macros and was always preselecting without actually selecting a target. Your point about your playstyle not being slower is null.
Mouseover and click casting present one major benefit you don't have to go through the pattern of MouseOver target-> Click target->Cast spell, instead this becomes MouseOver target->Click what used to take 3 individual actions now takes 2. Obviously the same can be accomplished through mouse over macros (which I prefer) however I have played with Clique as a holy paladin for 2 months in early wrath and found that it never inhibited my abillity to heal what drove me away from using clique on my priest was setup time because i'd need a different profile loaded for holy, disc and shadow. It ended up with renew being the only thing on clique so I had access to it as disc if i needed it(which was never as ive pointed out). Ofcourse neither gains you time but theres no reason to make such bold and erratic statements like "in fact more of a downside".
Click casting as said is a good alternate, it also allows for more intersting key combinations, My paladin had around 7 spells on mouse bindings(3 button mouse at the time and a few bindings are less optimal) allows me to place other spells on hotkeys.
Anyway all methods work though I don't recommend turning with keyboards and clicking spells with the mouse (if you know what I mean). It just really sounds like you dismissed it off the bat without considering benefits or playstyle changes, this is unfair towards players who should be finding out whats good for them and nothing about click casting or mouse over macros is bad but it does require good use of and setup.
Chain of events:
I'm at place A, situation arrives where I'm required to move across the room to place B, or kite. This cannot be done with strafing. I want to still heal, on the go. Without mouseover macros, I pre-select a target, move with a combination of mouse/keyboard that I'm comfortable with, cast while moving, select another target, temporarily switch over to keyboard, select a target, cast and utilize the mouse, keep doing that until I'm done moving. With mouseover macros, I have to hover over the target I want to select which means I cannot utilize the mouse to move at the same time to move which would greatly affect either my controlled movement or my casting. If you've mastered that, hey, all the better for you, but I gave it an honest try and I work much better without it.
The point I was making is that click-selecting does not provide any downside or loss of speed in casting at all. You do all your selecting before you actually cast, which means clicking isn't going to affect your speed at all because it's done in a timeframe you're not doing anything else in anyway. So what counts is what you're comfortable doing, but still, there's no necessity at all to switch over to click-casting or mouseover macros if you're not comfortable with them. Clicking your target works just as well and for some people, better.
For me, mouseover macros actually make me slower, so it presents a downside for me. I tried for a good month and decided they're not for me, and all I've done in this thread is tell people to go with what they're comfortable with, so please don't ride my back about my personal opinion. =P But I did just notice a typo. I was referring to mouseover macros, not click-casting in the former post. Sorry if that caused any confusion! Edited it to prevent further confusion.