How To Install AddOns (Voodoo Included)

October 20, 2009

Something strange happened earlier today that I am hesitant to even report.  The last thing I want to do is frighten off potential customers or influence the stockholders to take action that is unnecessary.  However, I am actually somewhat fearful for my own safety at this point.

Mind you, more fearful than I normally am with volatile and dangerous goblin experiments all over the factory.  Yes.  Frightening isn’t it.

Sarah_Palin_voodoo_dollMy office in the factory was previously inhabited by the machinist shop foreman.  When I arrived they moved him out to the shop floor, much to the chagrin of the hateful little goblin.  He wasn’t real happy being displaced for the marketing and public relations guy.

This same grizzled veteran of the factory has grudges against a number of the other department heads, bitter over years of being passed up for promotion.  His wrinkly face is scrunched in a permanent frown that looks more like a crumpled rag than an aging face.

While cleaning up the office yesterday, I found a small headless doll made of burlap and stitched crudely.  Yet you could feel tiny bars of metal running through the doll like a miniature skeleton.  This thing was stuffed far back in a forgotten drawer.  In another part of the desk I found long needles that I simply turned in to supplies and requisitions.

I overheard the machinist shop foreman asking the factory manager if he could look through his office for some materials he left behind.  The last thing I need is a vindictive grizzled goblin gunning for my head.

Regardless of my safety, I have a job to do though.  It has come to my attention that it may be helpful to review some very basic information about installing addons.  I realize it is very elementary information, but for those first coming to WoW and the world of user interface, it could be helpful.

Finding the WoW Install

WoW addons are installed in the same directory structure as the WoW installation itself.  Therefore, the first step to installing a WoW addon is to find the WoW install directory.  This is typically World of Warcraft if the default install options were kept.  However, it could be located in a number of different places depending on your operating system.  First find the WoW install directory.

Recycled-Paper-File-Folder-Z-0104-Once found, there should be an Interface folder in the root of the World of Warcraft folder.  Inside this Interface folder is a folder called AddOns.  This is where we will be installing our addons.

File Structure

Most addons are distributed with a folder containing all the files necessary for that addon to function correctly.  Addon authors typically name their folders with a descriptive name that indicates what the addon is.  In order for our installed addon to work, we must place that folder into the AddOns folder we mentioned above.

It is sometimes the case that some authors will break their mods or addons up into many different folders.  For our purposes this is not important. Simply make sure that all the folders provided by the mod author are included in the AddOns folder noted above.

Install Methods

While the above instructions identify where a collection of files and folders must be placed to function in game, it makes no note of the different methods through which an addon can be installed.  There are currently two different methods I can recommend to install an addon.

The first is manually placing the necessary files in the above folders.  Most addons are distributed as compressed files in either .zip or .tar format.  We would need to decompress those files (something most operating systems now include natively) and place the decompressed files in the Addons folder.

The other method of installation involve the use of another application to handle your mod installations.  Both Curse and WoW Interface provide Addon Management Consoles that will scan your addon directory, identify the addons that you already have installed, and allow you to keep those addons up to date.  They will additionally allow you to easily download new addons from their respective sites.

I don’t want to get into the advantages and disadvantages of using an Addon Management Console right now.  We can save that for another discussion.  Just realize that these kind of tools do exist if you would rather not manually manage all the addons you use.

In Game Activation

Now that your addon files are in the appropriate folders, it is time to start up WoW and configure those addons to be active in game.  Log in to your account and to a specific server.  Once you are on the Character Select screen, you will notice in the lower left hand corner a button called ‘AddOns’.  Go ahead and click this.

zz1c44e088You should now see a screen that lists all the addons you have installed.  Often these correspond to the folder names you placed in the AddOns folder, but not always.

Note first that you can activate or deactivate addons for different characters through the character select dropdown at the top of the page.  If you want your healing addons only installed for your healer character, you can do so here.  Keep in mind you also have an option to install an addon for all characters.

Some addons may be disabled for a few different reasons.  Some may be listed as out of date, and some may be listed as having a missing dependency.  As new patches are released by Blizzard, they provide a patch number to track the progression of the game.

Addons have a corresponding value in their configuration files that indicate what patch of the game they were released for.  Often addon authors will choose or be forced to make updates to their addons after major content patches to ensure they still work.  However, some addons do not break from content patch to content patch.  In some cases, you can select the checkbox at the top of the screen that states ‘Load Out of Date Addons’.  Some of these out of date addons may no longer work.  However, you can manually review each addon and choose to remove the ones that do not work anymore.

When an addon is marked as missing a dependency, it means that there is another addon that it required to work, and that addon is no longer installed.  Typically, when this error is encountered it is pretty likely that the addon with the missing dependency isn’t going to work.  There are some rare exclusions, but they are very rare.  It is typically a good idea to disable those that have missing dependencies.

In Game Configuration

Once you have your addons activated or deactivated, you can log in to game with a specific character and begin the configuration of your addons.  Some require very little configuration at all.  Some require extensive configuration.  Further, each addon typically has a completely different configuration process and management screen.  At this point, your best bet is to review the addon’s install screen for instructions.  If no information is available here, either ask a friend who may have the addon, or just experiment.

Hopefully over time, we will provide configuration instructions on some of the more popular addons, though even those instructions are bound to change over time.  That is one tricky element of the addon environment with WoW.  It is constantly changing.

Does anyone know of any other Addon Management Console they can recommend?  Do you have any horror stories of mod installs or uninstalls that might help another?