Framed! (Part 5)

So, I’ve covered the players and the various features, what I liked and what problems might have existed.

Memory consumption

I’ve mentioned in passing some memory footprint concerns, but now I’ll share the whole chart. Click on the image for the actual spreadsheet.

MemoryChart First, a word about the different colors. I wanted to express the modularity of most addons in a way that would give you a better sense of the size of the most-used components, or, ‘core’.

  1. Thus in the chart above I have one color for the ‘core’, or central addon. If the addon does not have modules, then that is the footprint of the whole addon itself.
  2. ‘Config’ is the footprint of the configuration module(s), if any.
  3. ‘Extras 1’ and ‘Extras 2’ represent additional non-config modules, such as Dog Tags.

Memory footprint of UF addons

Anyway, the overall biggest memory hog is Pitbull, by a long shot. And yet, there i a lot that can be mitigated by turning off components that you do not use. The core – and that includes the config code – is actually fairly compact, and even with most of the standard features turned on, it comes in under 2500 KiB, not too shabby. It’s only when Dog Tags is figured in to this that the addon takes on the gargantuan proportions that the chart reports – and let us not forget, the Pitbull team is flirting with LuaText now, and it’s smaller and more actively supported. So, plusses.

Vuhdo Comes in next, and what can we say, even without its config util, it’s huge. Don’t forget, however, that it’s packing a lot of features that most people will never use. It would be about perfect if the healy and non-healy features were split into a couple of LoD ((Load on Demand, now you know.)) modules.

ag_ and Stuf really shine out as small-footprint champs, but remember that there have been a few difficulties, so weigh that against the footprint. If what you do gets around where the bugs or issues are, you may have a winner on your hands.

Grid’s medium footprint can be deceptive, since you have to add things to duplicate a lot of the features other unit frames have. On the other hand, that 1100ish KiB footprint has everything that isn’t a plugin.

Healium was a big surprise. It does just about everything a unit frame replacement should do, but does it in a minimalist fashion, and thus saves gobs of memory on things like portraits (or lack thereof). As a healing addon, I’d hesitate, but as a unit frame replacement, it has promise.

As I said in part 4, Deep’s tiny little footprint is most likely due to all the pieces not loading because of Lua errors. But, boy howdy, it would be amazing if it managed to pull off actually working in that amount of space!

Recommendations, Et Cetera

OK, down to brass tacks.

Despite all the trash I’ve talked about this addon, Pitbull is by far the most stable and feature-rich of the crowd. It is also one of the most obtuse and difficult addons to set up right out of the box. I know of other works from the same developers, and I have faith that they will at some point get around to looking at usability issues. Me, personally – I don’t have the patience, but if you do, and don’t care about the memory, this one is a winner.

I have been very happy with Shadowed Unit Frames up until 4.0 hit, and then it started giving me problems. The future of this addon is, to me, in doubt, so I no longer am as enthusiastic about recommending it. However, if  you can avoid the bugs I’ve hit, it’s well worth a look.

X-Perl is still Old Reliable, and as far as I’m concerned, you can’t really go wrong with this one within certain parameters. One of those parameters is “modern feature set”; there are a few new tricks it could learn that would make it even better. Until then, provided your needs are not overly sophisticated, this one will get you through a raid without any problems at all.

My most radical suggestion, though, is to give the new Blizzard frames a serious, unbiased, look. For most non-healy needs, they deliver on par with most other addons in this article. Healy types, of course, are going to have far more sophisticated needs. And in fact, as DPS, I’m not at all certain I can’t do without some missing features, either – but your raiding environment may be far different than mine.

A compromise that I am currently test-driving is using Vuhdo as my raid frames, showing each unit’s target next to the unit. This is extremely helpful when we are in focus-fire scenarios. So far I have been very happy with Vuhdo driving my raids, and the Blizzard frames for my non-group frames.

I really want to love ag_UnitFrames and Stuf, but both have a lot of rough edges that may make them difficult to live with. By all means, if you’re looking to slim down, have a look, but don’t bet the farm on them.

Grid and Healbot do the job for groups, but nothing for the other unit frames, and really are so specialized that I would only recommend Grid if desperate and Healbot if out of all other options. For healies, they’re great, but that’s not what we’re doing here.

Healium is really worth a look if you’re in a minimalist mood. You’ll have to do all the heavy lifting of setup yourself, including hiding the default frames, but the result is an extremely spare yet useable interface.

If in your travels you hear that Deep Unit Frames was revived, do two things. First, have a look!  And second, make sure I know!


While there were many fine specimens, there was also a higher incidence of just plain broken stuff, when compared to the HUD addons I looked at back in March. I think there are two factors to this. First, unit frame addons are somewhat more complex than HUD addons – you can really make up your own rules in the latter case, and get away with it. Second, Unit Frames are already part of the system, so you have to not only create better ones, but work within the framework that the original ones do. That isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Bit Rot aside, those that worked, worked well, and provide a wide gamut between austere and indulgent.  I truly think that the more elaborate addons offer maybe just a little bit too much information for one to digest, but they also have ways of mitigating – or eliminating – the clutter.

I find it extremely interesting that the default unit frames have become as viable as they have. The old clunkers of the past are gone. Blizzard learns, but it learns slowly, and sometimes it learns the wrong lessons, but in this case, I think they did a good job.

My takeaway is this: if you don’t need to replace them, unit frame addons are very, very optional. Two – maybe even one – years ago, that would not have been a valid statement. Now, if I didn’t raid, I’d probably have none at all.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little production. as always, if I’ve blown it in any significant way, please let me know.


Posted on July 29, 2011, in Addons. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You can show target next to players in Vuhdo? Please tell me how! Because as you say, finding stuff on your own in Vuhdo takes hours…


    • @Zinn

      Yes; select the PANELS tab at the bottom, then the TARGETS tab on the right side of that. Target and Target of Target are both there.


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