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Unread 03-16-09, 11:38 AM   #1
Zyonin
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Guide: Packaging up your UI to share with others.

Preface: I originally posted this guide back in January of 2007 on the old UI forums hosted by Incgamers under my old handle "Xinh". Sadly, that post is no longer searchable. That post was modified slightly and added to a stickied FAQ for those boards by Tunga, a then moderator, with more input from me. However I have noticed that these boards do not have a guide like the one I wrote for UI except for some bits buried in various threads. Thus I have grabbed my old guide from the UI forums and have transplanted here (with some updates and revisions).

Packing your UI to share with others

So you have this great UI that you want to share with the rest of the WoW player community. Sounds tough, right?. This is easier than you might think.

First, your AddOns:
  • First, in Windows Explorer, open up your WoW folder to locate your AddOns. In Windows XP it's located at
    Code:
    C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\
    In Windows Vista/7, if you installed WoW to the default location, it's located at:
    Code:
    C:\Users\<name>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\World of Warcraft\
    If you installed WoW in a location other than the Program Files folder, then your Interface folder will use a similar path as a Windows XP WoW install, just switch out "Program Files" for the name of the folder where your WoW folder is living.

    On OS X, WoW uses the same file structure as on Windows XP, only the root install folder (Applications instead of Program Files) will be different).
  • Copy the Interface folder (the parent of your AddOns folder) onto your Desktop or something other working area.
  • Now dive into the copied AddOns folder and weed out* any mods that are unnecessary or are personal mods. This would be a good time to check on whether or not you can distribute AddOns in your UI compilation. Most authors don't care, however some do. Please respect our AddOn author's wishes. If in doubt, either contact the AddOn's author or don't include the AddOn. If you do obtain permission to use the AddOn in your UI, then include the permission note AS IT WAS RECIEVED from the Author in your ReadMe file.

    AddOns whose TOC file you or other non Authors (aka some "updaters") have altered should not be included in your UI. Why? When it comes to updating mods, changed TOCs can play havoc with some site specific updaters (such as MMOUI Minion or the Curse Client). These updaters are polite and do not bulldoze mods whose structure/signature has changed as that usually indicates custom changes such as code or artwork/textures.

    * If you are including mods that need dependencies (like Sea, Earth, Khaos, etc) or stand alone libraries (Ace2, LibBabble, etc) then make sure you include those in your AddOns folder. Since the demise of Cosmos and the transition of Ace2 to Ace3, this is less likely to be the case as most users will be running with libraries embedded in their AddOns.

    AddOns that contain hidden or obfuscated code MUST be removed from your UI.

Next, your UI settings

Note: this section was written prior to 3.0 (WotLK). For Windows Vista/7 (and Windows 8) users, there are some slight changes which have been incorporated into this guide.


If you want to include your UI settings then you want to include your WTF folder in the zip file. Just make sure to change the ACCOUNT, SERVER and CHARACTER folder names to something generic (like "YOUR ACCOUNT", "YOUR SERVER", "YOUR CHARACTER") and remove all but one CHARACTER folder (unless you are including different settings for different classes, in that case name the folders accordingly). Again this is a good time to weed out any unused SavedVariables files as they will just clutter up your UI compilation and increase the size of the final file.

Windows Vista/7 Users:

For Windows Vista/7 users, if you installed WoW in the default location (C:\Program Files\) then your WTF folder will be located in
Code:
C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\World of Warcraft
However if you installed WoW in a different folder, then your WTF file will use a similar path to that of a Windows XP WoW install.

For OS X, your WTF folder is located in the same location as on a Windows XP install.

The Vista file paths, where swiped from Shirik's post regarding UAC and WoW

As per the updated WoWI rules (03 Apr 2009), you must change the names of these folders to a generic name (like Your Account, YOUR SERVER, YOUR CHARACTER). You cannot have personal information in the WTF folder.

A quick interlude

Why use the Interface (and WTF folder if included) folder as opposed to just the AddOns folder? Simple, it makes it real easy for your users to install as all they have to do is drop the unpacked Interface (and WTF folder if included) into their WoW directory. The Interface folder can contain more than just AddOns, things like custom Minimap button borders and other modified UI graphics/textures can be included here. If you do include the WTF folder, then your users also have to rename the files I listed.


Fonts

If your UI uses a custom Fonts folder to override WoW's fonts, then be sure to include it as well. However please check for any commercial fonts that may be in use, you should not include them as they could result in your UI being rejected. Try to use fonts that allow you to include them in your UI, include the font's license with your ReadMe. Most freeware font authors are pretty generous in regards to the usage of their fonts, however play it safe and check first. You don't want your UI to get taken down due to IP violations.

This also applies to fonts in SharedMedia or within individual AddOns.

Package and upload

Now that you have your Interface and WTF (and Fonts if you are including a Fonts folder) folders safely parked on your Desktop, it's time to prepare the actual file you will upload to WoWInterface.
  • Create a new folder on your Desktop. Name with the name you wish to use for your UI
  • Drag the Interface and WTF folder into your new folder.
  • Create a readme text file or HTML page with instructions on how to set up your UI. Include any /commands to mods if you know them. This a good place to have a list of AddOns used in your UI. Also include any license information that apply to AddOns, fonts, artwork, etc in your ReadMe. Use the license's exact wording.
  • At this point check for the following inside your new UI folder

    - WoWMatrix DAT files (please don't use WoWMatrix in the first place)
    - Zip/Rar files
    - .exe files
    - user created "patch" MPQ files. This per the EULA and ToS. See this post for details
    - Other "strange" files.
    - Images, Sounds, or AddOns that would violate the "T" (US ESRB) or "12+" (Europe PEGI) rating

    If you find any of the above, delete them. Be sure to check inside any subfolders as well.

    The only files that should be in your UI folder are the followng:

    - .lua
    - .toc
    - .xml
    - .txt (or .htm, html, .css if your ReadMe is a HTML formated page)
    - .tga and/or .blp
    - Image formats such as .png, .jpg, .gif are OK.
    - Fonts in a .ttf format are also OK.

    Your UI file structure should look something like the following example:
    Code:
        MyUI.zip
    
            ReadMe.txt
            Interface
    
                AddOns
                    AddOn No.1
                    AddOn No.2
    
            WTF
    
                Account
    
                    YOUR ACCOUNT
    
                        SavedVariables
    
                            SavedVariableFile1.lua
                            SavedVariableFile1.lua.bak
                            SavedVariableFile2.lua
                            SavedVariableFile2.lua.bak
    
                        YOUR SERVER
    
                            YOUR CHARACTER
    
                                SavedVariables
    
                                    SavedVariableFile1.lua
                                    SavedVariableFile1.lua.bak
                                    SavedVariableFile2.lua
                                    SavedVariableFile2.lua.bak
    
                Config.wtf
          
            Fonts (if included)
  • Pack your UI folder. The only accepted format for WoWI uploads is .zip.

Once your is Zipped/Rarred up, it's time to upload. Make sure you have a good screenshot of your UI to upload as you will need it (WoWI rules require at least one image). Both an out of combat and an in combat screenshot is a good idea. Also a screenshot of your AddOns folder showing all the AddOns in your UI is a good idea as it saves quite a bit of typing when you list the AddOns in your compilation.

Before you upload, read the WoWI Upload Rules & Guidelines (I chose this particular post as it highlights a few areas of concern to a UI uploader). Your UI must conform to Blizzard's EULA, ToU and UI Add-On Development Policy. If your UI meets those guidelines, upload it.

NOTE for first time UI compliers: If you are a first time uploader and your UI has serious issues, it may be simply deleted and you may not be contacted. If you do not see your UI on the site in a few days after you upload, double (or triple) check your UI for any of the issues I have listed. If you have questions, please PM an Admin or SMod.


Take a bit of time when you type up your UI's description. Put yourself in a potential downloader's place. Sell your UI to him/her. However tell the truth! If your UI likes to eat CPU cycles for breakfast or will be difficult for novice users, then say so. Otherwise the truth will come out in the comments users will leave and they may not be gentle about it.


Success!

Once uploaded, it may take a couple of days before it shows up on the site. Have a bit of patience and let the Admins and SMods do their jobs as all uploads are human checked (as normal Homo sapiens using the ol' Mk. I Eyeball) for problem files and scanned for viruses. While you are waiting, you may want check for PMs as if the Admins/SMods discover an issue, this is the route you will likely be contacted by.

Once your UI is approved, keep an eye on any comments that may appear. If users have problems, the comments section for your UI will be the first place that they will look (users will usually post question/comments first, look later). If you notice repeated questions about one thing, then that should be a clue to change a thing or two (either an AddOn, or maybe just some better documentation).

Keep your UI up to date. When mods change, then your UI needs to change to accommodate the AddOns. When you do make changes to your UI, take advantage of the Change Log to document changes to your UI. You may wish to add this Change Log to your ReadMe as well.
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Last edited by Zyonin : 06-29-12 at 02:09 AM.
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Unread 03-16-09, 04:03 PM   #2
Yhor
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Nice tut. Very informative and complete.
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Unread 03-16-09, 04:09 PM   #3
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Thanks Lykofos, very nicely written up.
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Unread 03-16-09, 05:11 PM   #4
Zyonin
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Thanks guys. I will be keeping this guide update as changes come down the pipe. I try to research what I write and make sure my writing is thought through, well laid out, and readable. I guess all that training in customer service and such hasn't gone to waste. If anyone has any feedback, post it here.
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Unread 05-05-09, 03:08 PM   #5
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Nice tutorial learned a thing or 2 from it
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Unread 08-28-09, 12:44 AM   #6
Nicolin
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Thumbs up

nice tutorial altho a long read for me (attention span rather low)

how do you find out if your allowed to put the mods you use in to a combilation i know some of it migth be wisit the addon downloads on here and other sites but is there a specific thing to look for or can you find it in the readme file on the mod itself ?

am new to making ui's and am playing alot with it lately and have decided id like to maybe share some of it at some point when i feel confident its "perfect" also art and so on how do you know if a picture you edited to suit your ui set is copyrigthed or not an example of one of my latest ideas



a background picture i edited to use as a bottom frame in game "real picture"
and are screen shoots allowed to be edited for this aswell or is it copyrigthed by blizzard ?

actually if someone is interested in mentoring a newbie to ui designing i could use the info and tutoring so i dont make mistakes

sorry if im asking silly questions but i want to do things rigth and sorry for bad english/gramma

Cheers Nico
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Unread 09-02-09, 12:32 AM   #7
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bump any chance of some guidance oh migthy addon geniouses (no insults intended i really do respect all the work you guys do)
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Unread 09-02-09, 02:37 AM   #8
Zyonin
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Originally Posted by Nicolin View Post
nice tutorial altho a long read for me (attention span rather low)

how do you find out if your allowed to put the mods you use in to a combilation i know some of it migth be wisit the addon downloads on here and other sites but is there a specific thing to look for or can you find it in the readme file on the mod itself ?

am new to making ui's and am playing alot with it lately and have decided id like to maybe share some of it at some point when i feel confident its "perfect" also art and so on how do you know if a picture you edited to suit your ui set is copyrigthed or not an example of one of my latest ideas

<< Screenshot removed >>

a background picture i edited to use as a bottom frame in game "real picture"
and are screen shoots allowed to be edited for this aswell or is it copyrigthed by blizzard ?

actually if someone is interested in mentoring a newbie to ui designing i could use the info and tutoring so i dont make mistakes

sorry if im asking silly questions but i want to do things rigth and sorry for bad english/gramma

Cheers Nico
OK, the first place to look for any license or restrictions is in your AddOn's folder. Look for a readme file of some kind. Otherwise look on the AddOn's page (on whatever you site you originally downloaded the mod from. If in doubt, contact the author via email or instant message.

Regarding your background image:

If the image is sourced from a Blizzard property: I am not a lawyer nor am I associated with Blizzard, however I think Blizzard does consider their artwork to be fair game for in-game usage in an AddOn, provided you follow their UI guidelines (link to in my guide).

If the image is derived from non-Blizzard artwork or does not depict Blizzard properties (such as characters, logos, etc), Blizzard assumes NO copyright over that artwork, the original copyright holder still retains the copyright even if it used in a WoW AddOn. So if the background in your screenshot is yours (aka you are the "creator" or artist), then you hold the copyright even if you use it in a compilation.

If you did not create the image AND the image is not derived from a Blizzard owned IP, then you need to obtain the original copyright holder's permission to distribute the image (even if you edited the image) UNLESS the image was released with a Creative Commons or other type of "copy-left" license. In which case most copy-left licenses often do you give you explicit permission to redistribute, however read the license terms carefully to see what restrictions may be in place.
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Unread 10-01-09, 02:08 AM   #9
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Hmm, nice guide, but IMO it's still too confusing for the end user. I'm experimenting with a simple form the end user has to fill in, and press download to generate a zip file with in it:

The raw data of your UI, with the WTF folders not renamed
An installer.exe
A .ini file which has the data from the form in it.

Now the installer.exe extracts the data from the .ini file and automaticly extracts, copies and renames all folders to the WoW folder. An EXAMPLE of this can by found at nclabs.heliohost.org. The content is still just me trying to get a description of an UI not finished lol. The form is there and works, the script for creating a zip file on the fly is there also, but not applied yet. Try it out and give your thoughts!
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Unread 10-01-09, 09:48 AM   #10
Zyonin
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Originally Posted by nightcracker View Post
Hmm, nice guide, but IMO it's still too confusing for the end user. I'm experimenting with a simple form the end user has to fill in, and press download to generate a zip file with in it:

The raw data of your UI, with the WTF folders not renamed
An installer.exe
A .ini file which has the data from the form in it.

Now the installer.exe extracts the data from the .ini file and automaticly extracts, copies and renames all folders to the WoW folder. An EXAMPLE of this can by found at nclabs.heliohost.org. The content is still just me trying to get a description of an UI not finished lol. The form is there and works, the script for creating a zip file on the fly is there also, but not applied yet. Try it out and give your thoughts!
OK some kind of automatic BAT file is nice to help newbie install a UI, however the major download sites had problems with executable files installing keyloggers on user's PCs. The major download sites did allow UIs with self extracting installers in the past, however hackers managed to slip keyloggers in the few allowed self extracting UIs without the knowledge of the UI's author. Users who downloaded those UIs did not know those UIs had been tampered with nor was there any way for a casual user to know. Thankfully, our site admins found the "funny business" quite rapidly and shut it down. As a result, Curse/WoWInterface/WoWUI.Incgamers normally do not allow executable files to be uploaded to their sites except in certain rare cases and not for UIs.

Normally if the major UI sites allow a exe/bat type of upload, its for some kind of a utility and in every case (at least with WoWInterface), the site in question requires the source code to be available and the admins will usually take the executable apart to check for any nastyness. Even then most users on WoWI are very leery of any kind of WoW related executable file. They know the folks behind the keyloggers are extremely persistent and probably know someone who has been hacked or they have been hacked themselves.

In addition, .zip/.rar are multi-platform. Executables (except for things like Java based applications) are not. Remember that not everyone plays WoW using a Microsoft OS of some kind. Blizzard officially supports Mac OS X in addition to Windows 2000/XP/Vista. Plus WoW is Linux friendly via Wine. While exes can be run via Wine, it just easier for most people these days to do the unzip/move file/rename file route. Plus its more secure that way.
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Unread 10-01-09, 09:52 AM   #11
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Very nice. im in the middle of putting together a lightweight alternative to Blizz UI and this helps me with structures Thanks
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Unread 10-01-09, 09:55 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Lykofos View Post
OK some kind of automatic BAT file is nice to help newbie install a UI, however the major download sites have had problems with executable files installing keyloggers on user's PCs. Curse/WoWInterface/WoWUI.Incgamers normally do not allow executable files to uploaded to their sites except in certain rare cases and not for UIs. The major download sites did allow UIs with self extracting installers in the past, however hackers managed to slip keyloggers in the few allowed self extracting UIs without the knowledge of the UI's author. Users who downloaded those UIs did not know those UIs had been tampered with nor was there any way for a casual user to know. Thankfully, our site admins found the "funny business" quite rapidly and shut it down.

Normally if the major UI sites allow a exe/bat type of upload, its for some kind of a utility and in every case (at least with WoWInterface), the site in question requires the source code to be available and the admins will usually take the executable apart to check for any nastyness. Even then most user on WoWI are very leery of any kind of WoW related executable file. They know the folks behind the keyloggers are extremely persistent and probably know someone who has been hacked.

In addition, .zip/.rar are multi-platform. Executables (except for things like Java based applications) are not. Remember that not everyone plays WoW using a Microsoft OS of some kind. Blizzard officially supports Mac OS X in addition to Windows 2000/XP/Vista. Plus WoW is Linux friendly via Wine. While exes can be run via Wine, it just easier for most people these days to do the unzip/move file/rename file route. Plus its more secure that way.
Yeah, they most likely won't allow it on WoWI, but thankfully I trust my own creations on my own webserver. I will put a link on my page to the installform, and if they choose for it, they can use it. I will not be forcing any people to use software I made for their comfort, so if they want to take the hard and safe way, they are free to go.
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Unread 10-01-09, 09:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by nightcracker View Post
Yeah, they most likely won't allow it on WoWI, but thankfully I trust my own creations on my own webserver. I will put a link on my page to the installform, and if they choose for it, they can use it. I will not be forcing any people to use software I made for their comfort, so if they want to take the hard and safe way, they are free to go.
Just a word of warning, normally WoWI does not allow external links to UIs in an AddOn description or post/threads that exist solely to redirect users to an external site. Plus most users don't want to go hunting through multiple sites for UIs.
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Unread 10-01-09, 10:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lykofos View Post
Just a word of warning, normally WoWI does not allow external links to UIs in an AddOn description or post/threads that exist solely to redirect users to an external site. Plus most users don't want to go hunting through multiple sites for UIs.
Hmm, my UI will only be on WoWInterface, the only thing I do is going to link to my (upcoming) blog NC Labs which just has an easy installer. It's not that I'm going to use WoWI as a portal to my own site, that would be just plain rude and unrespectful. WoWI and it's community has provided me with awesome addons over the years, and it's my turn to do something back, and that is not by abusing it as a portal.
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Unread 10-01-09, 10:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by nightcracker View Post
Hmm, my UI will only be on WoWInterface, the only thing I do is going to link to my (upcoming) blog NC Labs which just has an easy installer. It's not that I'm going to use WoWI as a portal to my own site, that would be just plain rude and unrespectful. WoWI and it's community has provided me with awesome addons over the years, and it's my turn to do something back, and that is not by abusing it as a portal.
OK, that is better. Maybe once Minion is closer to a finished state, you may consider creating/coding a module that would allow for an easy way to upload a UI package to WoWI that could be downloaded and installed with Minion. Curse is working on a similar idea with the Curse Client.
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Unread 10-01-09, 10:10 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Lykofos View Post
OK, that is better. Maybe once Minion is closer to a finished state, you may consider creating/coding a module that would allow for an easy way to upload a UI package to WoWI that could be downloaded and installed with Minion. Curse is working on a similar idea with the Curse Client.
Yeah, I could try doing that, great idea!
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Unread 05-03-10, 10:41 PM   #17
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Very nice guide, but I'm having trouble making my interface work after I have formatted everything. Am I supposed to delete files that are .exe? Also, your outline of what the UI should look like in the files doesn't follow what mine looks like at the end. Instead of having just SharedVariables.lua and such, there are many other files under my character and WTF sections. What do I do with these files?
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Unread 05-04-10, 03:11 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Icecx View Post
Very nice guide, but I'm having trouble making my interface work after I have formatted everything. Am I supposed to delete files that are .exe? Also, your outline of what the UI should look like in the files doesn't follow what mine looks like at the end. Instead of having just SharedVariables.lua and such, there are many other files under my character and WTF sections. What do I do with these files?
OK, did you open up your WoW folder and copy both the Interface AND WTF folders? That is all you need unless you are also modifying the default fonts. Exe files do not belong in either Interface or WTF folder, only the root WoW folder (and only ones authored by Blizzard should be present).

Regarding you WTF folder, yes you need all of the files in that folder (.lua) as those files are your AddOn's settings. So Dominos will save its settings in the dominos.lua file located in your Character and main Account folder. .bak files are merely backups of the .lua files.
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Unread 05-05-10, 10:33 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Zyonin View Post
OK, did you open up your WoW folder and copy both the Interface AND WTF folders? That is all you need unless you are also modifying the default fonts. Exe files do not belong in either Interface or WTF folder, only the root WoW folder (and only ones authored by Blizzard should be present).

Regarding you WTF folder, yes you need all of the files in that folder (.lua) as those files are your AddOn's settings. So Dominos will save its settings in the dominos.lua file located in your Character and main Account folder. .bak files are merely backups of the .lua files.
Ok, thanks, I tried just copying those folders, but I'm not sure if it is working, as when I try and use them as my own Interface and WTF folders, the UI does not work at all. All of the addons are set to their default settings for the most part.
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Unread 05-06-10, 01:33 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Icecx View Post
Ok, thanks, I tried just copying those folders, but I'm not sure if it is working, as when I try and use them as my own Interface and WTF folders, the UI does not work at all. All of the addons are set to their default settings for the most part.
Well, it does depend on the AddOn. Some AddOns will simply take whatever settings they are given (aka, a simple copy and paste of their saved variables files does the trick). Those are usually the smaller mods that don't really need to be changed for different classes/specs/playstyles.

However many Ace 3 based mods and other larger mods (such as cast bar, Buff/Debuff timers/trackers, raid mods, healing mods, damage meters, etc.) use "profiles" that the user must choose and set while in-game. If you open your AddOn's config menu, you may see a section called "Profiles". Select it. You will notice that the current profile you are using is highlighted. Here you can create new profiles with different settings. This is useful in that you can set up an AddOn to work one with a melee DPS (such as a Rogue) and differently with a Healer (such as a Holy Pally).

Usually, if you are packaging up a UI for others you want to create an easily selectable profile. Something named like "MyUI" (just an example) or "MyUI DPS". Then delete any of your character specific profiles (be sure to back up your WTF folder first!) before packaging up your UI.

If you want to further automate this, you can download an AddOn called Reflux. With this mod, you can set "master" profiles (again "MyUI", "MyUI DPS", "MyUI Healer", so and so forth. If I was using Reflux, I would be setting profiles such as "Zyoni Druid", "Zyoni DK", "Zyoni Retribution", "Zyon Warlock" as I play a Druid, Death Knight, Ret Pally, and Warlock. I can further add specific tanking and healing profiles to Reflux to allow for easy setup of my UI.

While setting up a Reflux profile may take a bit, it will be much faster for your users as they don't have to find each AddOn's profile settings and set the profile. Check it out.
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