Prelude to UI posting

Everybody’s doing it.  I want to do it.  But I like to look at other people’s UIs, if only to see how you put it all together and remind myself of how much crap I have on my small laptop screen that I really don’t need but I *need* at the same time.

UI posts are candy to me. So you can imagine what happens when I peruse things like WoWInterface, right?

But a bit of a prelude while the realm maintenance finishes up before I can go fiddle with my UI again.  I’m talking your actual computer folders.  Why?  Because recently my shiny and otherwise awesome Windows 7 system pissed me the fuck off by messing with the places where the game stores your addon settings.

Interface\Addons\

Wherever you put your World of Warcraft folder on your computer (C:\…\), there’s two folders everyone who has an addon knows about.  You know about them because this is where you install them.  The Interface folder has only one purpose and that is to house the Addons folder, which, surprisingly enough, contains all your addons.

However many folders there are in your Addons folder is how many check boxes you get to click (if you don’t select all) in your addons menu on the character load screen.  It’s why modular things like Pitbull 4 or Grid have so many effing folders.

Even if you don’t have addons, you have things in your addon folder.  Anything that starts with Blizzard_ is part of the default UIDon’t worry if you delete these accidentally; they come with the game.  Regular cleaning of your WoW folder includes deleting the addon-related folders like Interface, and when you next log back in, the game will recreate these folders to use.

Screenshots\

This is obviously where screenshots you take go, whether you take them manually or use an SS addon like Multishot.  Originally, you don’t have this folder until you take a screenshot.  Once you’ve taken one screenshot, they’ll be here.  One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that SSes you take in game don’t show up in the folder until you log out.  I don’t know if maybe my system is whack or if this is confirmed what it does, but don’t freak if you’re in-game and your 2-second-old achiev SS isn’t there.

Logs\WoWCombatLog.txt

WWS/WMO/WoL combat log parser & analyzer people…this is the file you upload.  If you’ve ever wanted to see a raw combat log, go ahead and open this .txt file.  Like the Screenshots folder, it isn’t there to begin with.  By typing /combatlog in-game you can create one.

WTF\

Do an experiment. Delete an addon, one you’ve set to something other than the default out-of-the-box settings, within your Interface\Addon folder, and then log into the game.  The addon isn’t there.  Now reinstall the addon.  Log into the game.  Isn’t it exactly the way you left it?

But we deleted it and reinstalled it, shouldn’t the default out-of-the-box setup be there?

Yeah, if the addon settings were stored in the Addon folder. :)  Your addon settings are stored in a subfolder of the WTF folder.

WTF is “Warcraft Text File,” not the funnier more flavorful acronym you might know.  If you open it up, you are greeted with two things: another folder called Account and a .wtf named Config.

Config.wtf is where a lot of the general game settings lie.  These are things you change in-game by using the /console command in the chat box or by going to the Video or Sound options on the ESC game menu and playing with the sliders.

The Account folder is obvious: it contains a folder with your account name.  I’ve had an account before the switch to Battle.net, so mine is still my old account name; I don’t know what the Battle.net accounts look like now that they’re email-based.  I also figure you would have more than one folder in here if you had more than one account on a computer; I only have one account and I’ve never let any WoW RL friends play on my computer, so I really can’t tell.

Opening your account folder produces a lot of things.  First things you might notice are more folders.  These are named all the realms you’ve ever played a toon on and one called SavedVariables.  There are also individual files of various dot-file type.  You can see your macros, if you want.  I guess you could add more macros offline this way too.  However, these are all for the default game settings; so everyone has these.

Open the SavedVariables folderIt will look a lot like your Interface\Addons\ folder contents, except instead of folders, they’re all .lua or .lua.bak files.  Addons are written in LUA, hence the .lua file type suffix.  .bak stands for backup, and it’s a backup of the similarly named .lua backup. It’s also different in that your Addons folder is what addons you currently can load, whether you have them enabled in your interface or not.  Here, in the general SavedVariables folder, are .lua’s and .lua.bak’s of EVERY addon you’ve ever had.  Granted, most of these barely break 10 kB, so it’s not too big of a deal, but if you’ve long since stopped using an addon, you can still load it with the general setting you used to have if the addon’s folder and coding guts are in the Interface\Addons\ folder.

Now, let’s go back to your [account name] folderPick a realm.  Inside the realm folders are — guess what? — more folders, this timed named for each of the toons you’ve ever had on this realm, whether they exist today or not.  Opening a specific character’s folder results in a very similar but slightly different [account name]-like folder.  It has a SavedVariables folder, and it has a bunch of -cache.wtf files.  Much like your [account name] folder has cache settings for your general wow account, your character folder has cache settings for your overall character.  The SavedVariables folder saves all the specific settings for each addon as they are on this specific character.

So why would you care?

Because if you create another warlock on Argent Dawn-US because you’re joining <Single Abstract Noun>, and you’re already comfortable with your main’s custom UI, you don’t have to have the headache of manually setting up that UI.  Just log out, then copy the contents of your main’s folder (cache settings & all), and paste it as the contents of your new toon’s folder.  Next time you log into your new toon, your UI will be exactly the same as it was the last time you logged off your main.

Hip hip hooray. :)

Though, I will note, after watching about installing Derevka’s UI, there’s an addon called Reflux which will do copying another toon’s whole UI into this other toon for you in-game.  I’m going to test it out and see if I like it or not.

But how many times do you really drastically change your UI?

Well, I tweak it constantly.  And I like consistency between my toons, regardless of what their respective roles are, because my senses get trained to respond to certain sounds or focus watching certain parts of my screen.  So it’d be cool if I tweak something on my warlock that I can have it carried over to my druid or my priest if I really like it, without having to log out, go find it in the SavedVariables and copy it over, and then check it by logging in.  It’d also be sweet if I could get it to set up a raiding profile versus a leveling profile.  ACP just does enabled/not enabled profiles, whereas I will have elements in completely different parts of the screen when I’m raiding versus chilling in Westfall killing Defias versus beating up Night Elves and Dwarves in Warsong Gulch.

I said the reason I wanted to post this is because my shiny and awesome Windows 7 system recently pissed me off by messing with these folders.

Screenshot-lovers might already know of this bug.  I’ve recently experienced it with my Interface folder, because I kept tweaking an addon to some way that I wanted it, logging off, turning off my computer, next day turn my comptuer back on, log on, and it’s…back to the way it was some time before I changed it.

…the fuck?…

Yeah, um, Windows 7 (but also Vista) has a funky file folder system.  For one, I dont’ understand how I can be on an administrator account, but can’t run things as an administrator until I actually choose to “Run as admin” off the right-click menu.  ???? That makes no sense.  But what also makes no sense is to take data that belongs to programs you have in the Program Files folder, and copy it…and put it in a temporary, identically-named folder SOMEWHERE ELSE.  Without telling the user or the program that this is a folder in a completely different spot.

I would have no problem with this if it were for backup purposes only.  But sometimes WoW will go read THIS FOLDER not the one in your Program Files.

Did I mention it was a temporary folder?  Y’know, that kind that gets deleted whenever you turn your computer off or restart it?  Some of my addon profiles completely disappeared because it was reading and writing the files in there, not in the ACTUAL place I installed the game, and then that folder got deleted, which makes you revert back to an older UI (basically, whenever WoW last wrote your settings to the folders in your original installation location).

Seriously, whichever designer thought this was a great idea to implement needs to go die in a fire.

So, if you’re missing some screenshots or wondering why your addon settings won’t stay saved, go check out this folder — C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\VirtualStore\ — and if you have a “World of Warcraft” folder in there, chances are some of your stuff was being read from and saved there.  If you delete that folder, WoW will go back to reading the proper Program Files folder, but you’ll also go back to whatever was in your original folder, so if you’ve majorly changed your UI or taken some screenshots recently, make sure to back up this doppelganger folder.

Now.  I don’t know if this is because I have my WoW folder in Program Files.  Whenever I feel like having my computer spend 15 minutes moving my WoW folder, I’ll see if moving it makes any difference.  But yeah…major being ticked off by restarting my computer and finding my UI completely fucked because WoW had been reading the wrong folder for a long time.

So there you go – the guts of your custom UI on your hardware’s side of things. I hope this was helpful, and later I’ll go posting the more fun parts of UI posts.  Actual addons and screenshots, y’know.

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3 responses

  1. Actually the “improvements” to Windows 7 are for the better when it comes to run as admin rights. The epic fail of windows security for years has been that processes needed admin or at least power user access to do anything useful. It was either can’t do anything or you have god power on the computer. It was a flaw that Mal-ware loved to exploit.

    Now the cache thing is a bit annoying and it has to do with the new file system being a Database between the Physical storage and the directory structure you see in you navigator. When you upgraded or switched to Win7 was it a clean install or an upgrade of an existing system?

    Oh you have occasionally seen me in Conspiracy chat as Lavata, Kaeley or Cemone.

    16 Mar 2010 at 15:05

    • Okay, well, that sounds like a good reason for the admin deal. I’d rather have annoyance than malware running my computer. I admit I’m not a computer expert. I just look around in computers & code more than the average user, I guess.

      I clean-installed Win7 since I came from WinXP. So probably explains why I want the XP folder system back since I’m thoroughly used to it. If I’m looking at a structure but not the actual storage, why was it reading & writing my stuff to two different spots? (Or, at least, it seemed two different spots.) Literally, as it happened I apparently installed an addon between the two reads/writes: in the old one, it wasn’t there; in the AppData folder, it was. But then I had some wireless internet problems at a friend’s apartment (while he was on the same connection), and I went to restart my computer to see if my computer had just bugged out for a moment. When I logged into WoW a few minutes later, my UI had reverted back to everything out of the box. But when I looked in my Program Files\World of Warcraft folder, all my addon files and settings were still there (I opened up some LUA files to check). Which prompted a o.O-wtf face from me until I remembered the deal with my screenshots being in 2 places at once.

      16 Mar 2010 at 15:22

  2. I’ve gotten into the habit of installing ALL of my games to my Users/Public/Games folder. I was just getting pissed off with W7 not letting me edit ANYTHING in the Program Files directory unless I confirmed that I wanted to do it fifty million times (and sometimes it wouldn’t give me access no matter how many places I typed in my password), so now the only things I put in there are programs that I don’t need to do anything to.

    16 Mar 2010 at 17:44

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