Addons Part 2 (Installation and Maintenance)

September 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

One thing that can be a confusing and scary experience is actually installing and maintaining addons.  And when I first started playing wow no-one really told me how to install and maintain addons; the only other person I knew who played was my roommate and he has this slightly ridiculous hatred for every addon ever made.  I’m still not exactly sure why.  I think it’s because all technology everywhere hates him.  Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone who is so technologically unlucky.  It’s not that he’s even all that un-savvy.  He just has horrible tech-luck.  He’s managed to fry more than one piece of electronics via his massive static charges.  And he’s accidentally deleted vital files for the running of his computer on more than one occasion.  So I guess he’d just rather not bother.  But I digress.  When I started I wished that someone had told me how to deal with all the addons out there, so I’m hoping that I can help guide those who are dipping their toes in the magical well of AddOns.

The first thing you need to do of course is find an addon.  The four most common sites to download addons from are Curse, Wow Interface, WoW Matrix, and WoW Ace.  Be careful if you download an addon from any site other than these four.  If you aren’t careful you may end up with malicious software on your computer.  As with any other internet venture, use common sense.  Be cautious, read reviews, get anti-virus software, and never ever download something from an unknown site.  If you find an addon from a site that isn’t in the list above, try searching those four to see if they host them as well.  It’s highly likely that one or more of the big four will have the addon you are looking for.  Seriously though.  If you end up with a virus, don’t come blaming me.  I warned you.

Anyway, once you find the addon you need to download it.  Before you download an AddOn you may need to get extraction software so you can extract the .zip files.  (Click here if you don’t know what a .zip file is.)  Both WinZip and Stuffit Expander have free versions you can use.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to download directly from each site:

Curse.com:

  • Navigate to the addon’s page.
  • On the addons’ page, click ‘download’.  This will direct you to a new page.
  • Click either ‘manual install’ or ‘automatic install’.
    • Manual install will simply download the addon to your computer.  You will need to extract it and put it in your addon folder.
    • Automatic install will only work if you also have the Curse Client installed.  If you do, it will automatically extract the file(s) and place them in your addon folder.
  • Extract the zip file using your preferred extraction software.
  • Move the addon from download destination into your addon folder.  The default directory is different depending on what type of computer you use.
    • Mac: ApplicationsWorld of WarcraftInterfaceAddOns
    • PC: C:Program FilesWorld of WarcraftInterfaceAddOns

WoW Interface.com

  • Navigate to the addon’s page.
  • On the addon’s page, click ‘Download latest version’
  • Extract the zip file using your preferred extraction software.
  • Move the addon from download destination into your addon folder.  The default directory is different depending on what type of computer you use.
    • Mac: ApplicationsWorld of WarcraftInterfaceAddOns
    • PC: C:Program FilesWorld of WarcraftInterfaceAddOns

WoW Matrix

You don’t actually download addons from the WoW Matrix site–you need to use their client.  But you can brows a list of addons on the site that the client supports.

WowAce.com

  • Navigate to the addon’s page.
  • On the addon’s page, click ‘Download’ to do it manually, and ‘Install’ to do it automatically using the curse client. (Yes, wowAce also uses the curse client.)
  • If you click ‘download’ you will navigate to a secondary page and have to click ‘download’ again.
  • Extract the zip file using your preferred extraction software.
  • Move the addon from download destination into your addon folder.  The default directory is different depending on what type of computer you use.
    • Mac: ApplicationsWorld of WarcraftInterfaceAddOns
    • PC: C:Program FilesWorld of WarcraftInterfaceAddOns

You need to be aware that some addons download in a ‘bundle’ and have folders within a folder.  An example of this is Deadly Boss Mods.  When you download the current version you will get a folder called “DBM-4.26-r1503-Core-and-WotLK-Mods Folder”.  If you were to just move that folder into your AddOn folder it wouldn’t work.  It wouldn’t even show up in the list of addons in the game.  If you open the folder that was downloaded you will see something like this:

    This is an example of a folder that would need all its subfolders moved.
    This is an example of a folder that would need all its subfolders moved.

You need to take all these  subfolders and place them in your AddOn folder in order to get Deadly Boss Mods to work.  The rule of thumb is that if you open the downloaded addon and it is full of folders and no files (except maybe a ‘readme’) then you need to take all those folders and move them to your AddOn folder.  If it has a bunch of files (.lua; .xml; .toc) you only need to move that original folder.

Ok, now it’s time to actually enter the game!  Log in as normal.  On the character selection screen you will notice a box on the lower left-hand side that says, “AddOns”.  Click on that icon.  This will bring up a window that lists all of the addons you installed (correctly).  There are a few options in this screen.  At the bottom you can enable or disable all the addons in the list all at once.  At the top right there is a drop down menu that will list all of your characters, defaulting to ‘all’.  This drop down allows you to enable or disable addons for specific characters.  For example if you have a mage and a warlock you may use different class mods for each character, and probably don’t want the warlock addon enabled when you are playing your mage and vice versa.

This shows you a list of all your addons. Out of date addons show up in red.  Check the 'Load out of date AddOns' to load them.
This shows you a list of all your addons. Out of date addons show up in red. Check the ‘Load out of date AddOns’ to load them.

At the top right there is a box that says, ‘load out of date addons’.  This will keep your addons loaded in game after a patch even if you haven’t downloaded the most recent update.  According to Eliah Hecht in his article AddOns for the Complete Noob,

“For the curious: every patch, WoW gets a new “toc number”, which it then checks against all your AddOns to try to decide whether they’re “out of date” or not. WoW 2.0.1’s toc number is 20000, for instance. If an AddOn has a toc number below that, because it was written during a previous version of WoW, the game won’t load it unless the box is checked.”

So assuming that the new patch didn’t actually do anything to break your addon, as long as you keep that box checked everything will be loaded and will work as normal.

From time to time though Blizzard will change the game in such a way that will break your addon and you will no longer be able to get away with simply ‘load[ing] out of date addons’.  Other times the addons’ developer will release a new version of their addon with fancy new features.  Sometimes both of those things will happen (especially when major content patches/expansions are released).  Either way, eventually you will need to update your addons.  Now if you only use one or two addons it may be easier just to download updates directly from your site of choice.  But if you are an addon junkie like I am, it may be easiest to use one of the a download clients.  The Curse client is used by both the Curse.com and WoWAce.com databases.  WoWInterface.com currently doesn’t have a stable client, but they claim to be working on an update.  Finally, as I mentioned, there’s the WoWMatrix Client, which is the only way to get addons from WoWMatrix.

I won’t go into as much detail about the clients at this time because they are fairly straightforward to use.  But here’s a quick rundown of them both:

The Curse and WoWMatrix clients are fairly similar in form and function.  Both of them will scan your addon folder and generate a list of all of the addons you have.  Then they check the addons’ version against the most current version from their database.  Then you have the option of updating the one you have selected, updating all addons selected (or all addons needed to be updated), or doing nothing.  You can tell the clients to automatically check for updates each time you run the client or you can manually check whenever you specify.  You can default them to automatically download any updates as soon as they are available.  You can delete specified addons and all their accompanying settings and files.  You can also search for more addons directly from the clients.

There are a few minor differences (the curse client requires you to have a user name and password–you can register at curse.com for example), but as far as I can tell they are basically the same.  I haven’t really used the WoWMatrix  client until just recently. I had been exclusively using the Curse client because I get 99% of my addons from curse.com, but I’m having an issue with the current version crashing every time I search for addon updates.  If I discover any major changes or any reason to favor one client or the other, I will let you know.*

These clients are a great way of making sure you are using the most current addons and I absolutely recommend using one of them.  The other great benefit to using them is that you can cleanly uninstall an addon without having to parse through all your folders to make sure you got all its parts.

There are two caveats though.  First, if the client you use searches their database and doesn’t find that addon, then it will not be updated.  So you will have to find an update yourself.  Second, the curse client does not differentiate between beta versions and full release versions of an addon (the WoWMatrix may be this way as well, I don’t know though).  All it does is checks for the most current version of the addon.  So if you don’t want to run the risk of using beta addons, you’ll just have to check the database yourself.  (There may be a way around this.  If anyone knows, by all means share that info.)

And that should get you started in the world of addons.  If my instructions don’t make sense or if you encounter unique issues let me know and I’ll do what I can to help.

“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”

~Fizz

(You know, I feel like I said ‘addon,’ ‘client,’ and ‘folder’ an awkwardly high amount of times in this post.)

*Note that curse has released the beta version of the 4th edition of their client.  I have yet to use it, so I can’t speak to its effectiveness.

Sources:

Hecht, Eliah.  http://www.wow.com/2007/01/11/addons-for-the-complete-noob/, January 11th 2007

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