Thursday, February 12, 2009

Project: Compare the raid frame heavyweights

Major project time! *rubs hands together*

This is going to require a fairly hefty investment of my time, but I'm really keen to do it.

There are Grid lovers and Grid bashers. Healbot devotees and Healbot haters. Healbot, Pitbull, XPerl... how do they all measure up against Grid, the once standout leader in the raid frame race?

Let's settle this like gentlemen, shall we?

Healbot, Grid, XPerl, Pitbull. If you like your mod, you'll likely advertise that fact, and defend it when other people announce that theirs is better. I've seen some pretty nasty Grid vs Healbot fights, and I know that I have been very strongly opposed to Healbot in the past. I'm not the kind of person to shove Grid in people's faces and force them to use it, but I was always very vocal in my belief that it was the best option for raid frames (and I still believe that until fairly recently, there was no real competition).

But.. is that opinion justified now - or have the other mods been improved to the point where they can do everything Grid can do?

It's difficult to really know which mod is better on one hand you have people who are vehemently opposed to one or the other, or so passionate about their own mod being the best that they're simply not willing to listen to reason about the other addon options out there. On the other hand there are players who have used their mod for so long that they simply don't know the improvements that have been made to the other addons over time. They'll say something like, "I've used Grid for 3 years and it's the best because it can do X, Y, Z" but then a Healbot user will say, "Healbot can do X, Y, Z, too!". Similarly, you have some players who tried Grid or Healbot years ago, hated it, and stuck with something else ever since - and aren't willing to budge (not realising that the mods have come a long way since then).

Nobody seems to be comparing today's Grid with today's Healbot, XPerl and Pitbull. At least not in a meaningful way that helps us directly compare the mods and help people to understand their different features and any limitations. They just say why they love the mod they have - with no actual, meaningful comparisons.

I've decided it's time to inject some objectivity into this age-old debate.

So here's the plan:

I run an extremely minimalist UI with lots of free space - so I was inspired to do just that - compare them. Directly. I intend to download each raid frame mod, set it up, and see how well I can have it match what I want out of Grid in terms of aesthetics, HoT display, buffs and debuffs, etc. Side by side, Grid vs the others. I want to see if I can make them look the way I want, display what I want, and perform how I want in raids.

Now is the time to do it, while we are farming Naxx and things are easy enough that I can afford to take some focus away from healing trash to look at two sets of raid frames and decide which of them is working the best. Come Ulduar I probably won't have the luxury of messing around with experiments in raids ;)

Also, importantly, I intend to show people how they look "out of the box", because this is something that new users or players new to addons always want to know. One mod may be fantastic and packed full of features, but if it takes hours to set up, someone may prefer something a little simpler and less dynamic but that comes pre-configured with common settings.

Anything you can do, I can do better.

I intend to rate the mods on various points such as ease of use, HoT display, buffs & debuffs, general aesthetics and readability, as well as point out any advantages or limitations compared to the others. I'd like to be able to present it in a tabular format so people can directly compare each of the features. At the end of the series of tests, I'll make a summary post comparing all four mods.

The questions I'll be asking will be:

1. Can the other mods show me what Grid can show me?
2. Can they show me in the way I prefer, or at the very least, in a pleasing and easy to interpret way?
3. What really makes this mod shine - what's the major drawcard?
4. What are the major limitations?

If you guys have any particular questions you would like me to address, or things you'd like to see tested and compared, please let me know :)

The 64,000g question -

Finally, the big question: After all these years of loving Grid, could I happily disable it and raid effectively with one of the other mods in its stead?

So - standby for Part 1: Grid vs Healbot, sometime in the next week or so.

Objective mode on - watch this space!


Aertimus said...

Prediction: Your subconscience, which loves grid, will cause you to set up the other interfaces in inferior ways, leading you to love grid more.

...I'm okay with that!

For serious though - awesome idea and I look forward to seeing what you make of it.

<3 Aertimus the Grid Lover

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention the default blizzard UI, this experiment is biased keeva!


Keeva said...

@Aertimus - I'm going to try really hard to be very objective, pick faults with Grid as much as the others, and embrace the better points of Healbot etc.

I honestly don't think I'll ever switch from Grid, but this experiment will be to see whether I could do it and be content with another mod.

@Arc - you don't live far enough away that I won't come and hit you.

Anonymous said...

HAHA, in all honesty though, would love to see the results of this. If you need help setting up your pitbull to your liking with settings and stuff, just hit me up, I give you a hand.

Will do anything to give pitbull a good score! lawl.


Keeva said...

What I'll probably do is take the best stab I can as a newbie, and record my thoughts at that point - to score how easy they are to set up if you're new to them, because I really think that is an important aspect to document.

Then I'll call on some local experts to help me set them up properly and match Grid as closely as I can, for the actual raid testing.

PS, don't tell the other officers I'm going to experiment with my UI in raids, k? It'll be our little secret.

I've used Pitbull for my player frames, never enabled the group/raid frames.

Never touched Healbot (out of principle back in the days that it chose spell ranks for you).

Never touched XPerl.

Should be interesting.

Splintered said...

Heya. I'm a firm believer in Grid and the 'if it ain't broke' mentality. I use X-Perl for my player frames, and like your Pitbull, the party/raid modules for X-Perl have never seen the light of day.

However, I am looking forward to seeing the results of your experiment, especially since you're a Grid person yourself.

Good luck! And don't wipe. (Else I'll tell on you)



Anonymous said...

I don't think you can get pitbull to show all of your hots. Make sure you pick up PitBull_LifebloomBar.

Anonymous said...

yeah sounds like a great project to pass the time with ;) i use xperl for party and grid for raid, looking forward to the results


Sydera said...

When I was wanting to make a change from X-perl before the expansion, I actually ran it along with Grid and along with Healbot through BT.

I ended up choosing Grid over Healbot because I liked its compact size and adaptability. It also worked more easily with my 5-button mouse and hombrew mouseover macros.

I still do run X-perl character bar and target bar. I really like the way that looks.

holydiscipline said...

I am very excited to see these posts! I only started using Healbot some months ago, and only 'cause I had to for the guild I was in at the time. So, that's what I got to know first. I did have a brief stint with Grid because I saw how pretty it looked in someone else's layout, but couldn't make it look the same myself. Plus, I believe my beef with it was I couldn't see the magic/diseases to dispell. That would be something I'd like answered, and how to make it pretty. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Hana said...

I'm looking forward to reading this! I'm also a Grid user, because at the time I was looking for a mod I wanted something compact where I could get all the information I need while still being able to shove the frames into a corner of the screen. Grid does this wonderfully.

But I've heard that Healbot has come a long way, and I have guildies that use XPerl and Pitbull.

What I'd be interested in is how easy it is to add custom buffs and debuffs in the different raid frames (I had to add Beacon of Light to Grid).

Flawlless said...

But.. I've used all of those.. Now I use PerfectRaid.

Anonymous said...

its alright keevs none of the other officers will ever find out trust me they dont read healing stuff

WaB :P

Keeva said...

Eep, I've been busted!

Thanks for all the comments everyone - I'll do my best to explore as many nooks and crannies as I can.

Possibly the biggest challenge will be to try to "unlearn" Grid and look at it through the eyes of someone who is new to it.

Thomas said...

There is a new Heal raidframe addon you could check out:

I like it on my priest :)

Anonymous said...

I already made this test as a new WoW player.

I started with healbot, as many ppl mentioned that it's great for healing. It wasn't for me, I hated it very much :D It might be great for pally healers but was terrible for me as disc priest.

Second was x-perl, as a top-downloaded addon on curse. I liked it, and I'm still using it's player, pet and target frames, but did not liked it's raid frame.

Then I was reading about how fantastic pitbull is. I tried it, I did not like it. Was a short story.

I got blood-eye then and was installing several unit frames. ag_unitframes is not bad, bad lack of functions. Perl classic is a joke. I did not tried eny more, as they were not updated in a month. It was a criteria for me, that it must be an actively updated frame.

Then I found GRID. Well, as a new WoW player i think I can say objectively that GRID is far the best raid unit frame. Later I have added clicque as it adds some useful clicking functionality to the frames.

Why grid? Simple and clear, tiny small, endlessly customizable.