Intro to Addons
This isn’t going to discuss any specific addons – those will be later posts. It is, as the title says, an introduction.
Addons are scripts which are too big to run as macros. They are programs in their own rights, which enhance and assist gameplay. Over time, I’ve discovered a few common points. First, they take memory – if you’re fighting client lag, be hesitant to add them. Second, they need regular maintenance – an update every time WoW adds a patch is the minimum requirement, and some need more (clearing historical files when they get too large, for example). Third, while there isn’t an addon for everything, for everything that has an addon there is usually more than one available. In other words, if you want an addon that tracks how frequently you cast a particular spell, if there is one there are likely to be several. As a consequence, there will be better and worse types. As a consideration, better for you is not necessarily better for me. Look for the options and give them a try.
Most addons have terrible documentation. If you’re not comfortable poking and prying and tweaking, accept that the default insertion is what you have to use if you’re going to use it at all.
Finally, installing an addon is easy provided you can copy to your world of warcraft directory. (That isn’t just ‘have permission’, it’s “know how to”.) To install…
Open your World of Warcraft directory.
Find the folder labeled “Interface” and open it.
Find the folder labeled “AddOns” and open it. If there is no folder with this name, create it. (This happens on some new installations, and is the correct fix.)
Copy ALL the folders of your addon program into the AddOns folder. Don’t create a new folder to put them into. Don’t open the downloaded folder and extract its components. Just copy the folder(s) at the top level into the AddOns folder.
When you start the program, they’ll be working. Unless (and here’s a kicker) they are missing dependencies or are out of date. To check this, we need to take a short pause while getting into the game.
At the character selection screen, look at the bottom left for the button that says, “AddOns.” Click it, and you’ll be rewarded with a list of all the addons you have in your AddOns folder. The first thing you need to do is ensure it’s there. If it isn’t, there’s a very good possibility you didn’t copy it correctly during installation – putting it in the Interface folder instead of AddOn folder being the most common event. If it’s listed, the second thing you need to do is see if it has its checkbox checked (unchecked means it won’t be running), and if there’s a note to the side telling you it needs a dependency or is out of date. If the former, it’ll usually tell you the other addon you need – the dependency. If the latter you have two choices. First, you can try to find a current version. Alternatively, at the top of this menu is a checkbox for “use out of date addons”. If you check this then WoW will try to use the addon. Of course, if a major change has been done to WoW then the old addon may not work the way you expect — and may confuse things significantly. So, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.
This being an intro I’ll not go into further details other than letting you know you can set different addons to work with different characters, and that there are ways to force addons to start and stop while you’re actually in the program. Knowing they’re there is enough to let you know that when you’re ready you can find a wealth of information.