Lesson 1: The Basics

1 - The Basics

Hello, and welcome to my WeakAura School. Here you will learn about the World of Warcraft addon WeakAuras2 and how you can build your own auras the way I do. You do not need any previous knowledge of the addon and it requires absolutely zero programming skills. The addon itself can be coded with a specific programming language, but I don’t use it and still can do very beautiful and sometimes rather complex auras.

In the first part of my WeakAura School series I will teach you the basics and the menu of the addon, which will pretty much prepare you to build any aura you like. It will also work as a reference guide! But I will follow it up by writing guides on how I build specific auras to show you the ins and outs of this very powerful addon.

What is a WeakAura?

A WeakAura is a texture, icon or other image that pops up on your screen in certain conditions. It can be an icon that’s shows cooldown on a spell, it can be a texture that zooms into your screen when you have a proc. It can even show progression on power types such as mana/energy or show indicators for secondary power such as Chi.

The purpose of WeakAuras is to customize your own auras so that you can tailor your UI to show the information that is important to you. And of course, to make it look awesome!

Aura Structure

A weakaura can appear as one smooth unit that can change color, appear as glowing and do all sorts of crazy animations. But it’s not how it appears.

One aura is not a unit, but a network of several individual auras that layer on top of each other. Each layer look similar but is set to activate in different conditions. Sounds complex? Let me illustrate.

Aura off CD

Aura

Here’s a normal cooldown aura for Energizing Brew. When the Brew is off cooldown it shows the icon as per normal. But when you’ve used the spell, the icon becomes desaturated and a green progression bar pops up that shows you how far it is until Energizing Brew is back up again.

This weakaura is actually three individual auras.

Aura separated

There’s one aura that shows the icon in full color that is only set to show when the spell is off cooldown. There’s a desaturated version of it that only shows when the spell is on cooldown. On top of that, there’s a progression aura that also pops up when it’s on cooldown. The progression aura is slightly transparent to show the desaturated icon behind it.

Likewise, if you have an icon aura to glow in certain conditions, you have one normal aura that is replaced by a glowing icon when the right conditions are met. They transition seamlessly and therefore it looks like the icon suddenly glows, when in truth it’s only replaced by a glowing version of the same icon.

The WeakAura Menu

Menu

Here is how the WeakAura menu looks like when you open it up with the command /wa. You can see a list of some of my created auras to the left, and a list of options to the right where you can choose what kind of new aura you want to create. Any aura you create shows on the list to the left.

“New” – Choose your type

There are different types of auras that look and function slightly different. Here’s a description of what they do.

IconIcon
An icon is basically a simple square texture. WeakAuras have the whole World of Warcraft icon library, so you can always find an icon that matches the spell you want it to correspond to.

Progress BarProgress Bar
A progress bar is a square bar that fills up or depletes, depending on what it is tracking. It is most commonly used to track time, but it can track other quantities as well.

TextureTexture
A texture aura has the same function as the icon aura, but it can take different shapes or forms. You can compare it with WoW’s own proc animations (like the green weaves that shows when you have 5 stacks of Vital Mists in Crane stance). There’s a library with some default textures you can use. Otherwise it’s possible to load your own textures.

Texture ProgressTexture Progress
A texture progress is an aura that consists of two textures. One background texture that always shows, and one foreground texture that progressively fills up or depletes depending on what it is tracking. It functions the same as a Progress bar, but instead of a normal square shape, it uses textures.

ModelModel
A model is a 3D rendering that is borrowed from the game. Arthas pops up as your default setting, but you can change it to different creatures, items, buildings or even spells. I commonly use this to brighten up some of my weakauras with Mistweaver spells. It has the same function as a texture though, except of a 2D image it uses 3D models. 

TextText
A text aura is an aura that shows dynamic text. When I say “dynamic” I mean it changes depending on what it is tracking. For example, it can track your health and show it in percentages.

There are the six different types of auras you can use. There are also two ways you can sort these auras in your list of auras.

Group
Remember when I said that an aura is actually a network of several auras that layers on top of each other? Well, if you wanted to move them as a group, they must be set in the same group. You create a new group and then put all those auras within it. If you select the group, you can drag around the auras without upsetting the inner layering.

Group layout

You can move the auras within the group by clicking on the arrows to the left of the aura. Likewise, you can click on the middle aura and move it out of the group.

If you want to move an aura to the group, click on the arrow icon to the left of the eye and then simply click on the group you want to place it in.

Dynamic Group
Dynamic Group work just like a normal group with one exception. A dynamic group sorts its children (the individual auras) depending on priority. The most common example is a list of buffs that shows duration. The group will sort the buffs depending on how much time there’s left on them.

Import
If you want to import auras from another person, you click on this option and then paste the export code within the text field. Click on “Done” and you get a pop-up that asks you if you want to import that weakaura. Click on “Import”. The weakaura will pop up in your list of auras to the left.

If you want to export a weakaura, you click on the aura group you want to export and then choose “Export to string…”. You’ll get a field of text that you can copy (the export code), that you can share to others.


“Display” – The Looks

The Display tab is the only tab that looks different depending on what type of aura you’re working on. The other tabs; trigger, load, actions and animations will always stay the same no matter what the aura. The reason is that “Display” is the tab that deals with the looks. Since the looks varies depending on type, the menu will look slightly different.

Display - Icon

Here’s the Display menu for an Icon aura. Usually, the menu is long enough that you need to scroll through it, but I’ve layered the images so you can see it in its entirety. I will go through the options one at a time.

Cooldowns – If you select this option, your icon can show a classic cooldown texture.
Inverse – Inverses the cooldown texture (greyed out if you haven’t enabled cooldown).
Color – If you want your icon to have a tint of color, you can change it here. Selecting it as white means it will have no color overlay.
Automatic Icon – Normally, your aura will display the corresponding icon to the spell in Triggers (which I will cover later). If that doesn’t work, or for some reason you want a different aura, deselect Automatic Icon and you can browse the icon library for the icon you are looking for.
Desaturate – Desaturate your icon to a grayscale.

Text
Your icon can show a dynamic text if you want to. The options are;
%p – Progress – The remaining time of a timer, or a non-timer value.
%t – Total – The maximum duration of a timer, or a maximum non-timer value.
%n – Name – The name of the display (usually an aura name), or the display’s ID if there is no dynamic name.
%i – Icon – The icon associated with the display.
%s – Stacks – The number of stacks of an aura (usually).
%c – Custom – Allows you to define a custom Lua function that returns string value to be display.
Blank space – Shows nothing.

Text Position – If you have chosen to show some kind of text on your icon (usually a timer or number of stacks), this option allows you to position the text on the icon.
Color – Change the color of the text.
Inside/Outside – Change if the text should be placed inside or outside of the icon.
Font – Change the font of the text.
Size – Change the font size of the text.
Outline – If you want your text to have an outline, you can choose one here. It can be good to have if you want your text to be more visible.

Sticky Duration – If you are tracking the timer on a spell that has 30 sec duration and can be partially refreshed, enabling this option makes sure that the maximum duration, 100% on the bar, will remain at 30 sec.
Zoom – Zoom in on the icon.
Tooltip on Mouseover – Show the spells tooltip when holding the mouse over the aura.

Width/Height – Change the width and height of the icon.
Anchor – Change the anchor point to the icon.

X-offset – The X-coordinate of your icon (left or right on the screen). If your icon is not in a group, the coordinates are relative to the middle of your screen. If your icon is in a group, it’s relative to your groups coordinates.
Y-offset – The Y-coordinate of your icon (up or down on the screen). If your icon is not in a group, the coordinates are relative to the middle of your screen. If your icon is in a group, it’s relative to your groups coordinates.

Frame Strata – This is an important one. You can have several auras stacking on each other; the frame strata decides which order they are stacking in. The options are, from lowest to highest;
Background
Low
Medium
High
Dialog
Fullscreen
Fullscreen_Dialog
Tooltip
The default choice is “Inherited”, which usually works fine.


“Trigger” – The Mechanics

The Trigger tab is the absolutely most important one. You can make an aura and ignore all the other tabs, but you can’t ignore this tab. An aura’s trigger decides when it should be displayed on your screen. For example, the aura that I showed earlier had a trigger to show when the spell “Energizing Brew” was off cooldown. Did it not have that trigger, the aura would never show.

EB - Trigger

The most important knowledge when making an aura is to know what types of triggers you should use. For this purpose, I’m going to give you the list of the triggers. Browse and select the triggers that fit your aura.

Type; Aura (buffs, debuffs)

Aura(s) – Type in the name of the aura (buff or debuff). For example; Renewing Mist.
Unit – On which unit should the aura be present on. The player, your target, your group, your focus, your pet etc. Typically, if you are tracking buffs you want it set to the player. If you are tracking debuffs on your target, set it to target.
Aura Type – Set it to buff or debuff.
Remaining Time – If you want the aura to only pop up when the buff or debuff is at a certain progression (example; Rising sun kick debuff, 2 seconds remaining) type it in here.
Stack Count – If you want a weakaura to show only when your unit have a certain number of stacks, you type in the number of stacks here. For example, Mana Tea is an aura with stacks. You can set your weakaura to show when you have, for example;
“=10” exactly ten stacks,
“<=10” ten stack or less or “>=10” ten stacks or more.
Own Only – Enable this option if you only want it to track buffs or debuffs that only you created. For example, if you are tracking RSK debuff and have a Windwalker that also applies the same debuff to the same target, enabling this option makes sure that it doesn’t track the Windwalker’s debuff instead of yours.
Inverse – Enable this option if you want to track when a buff or debuff is missing!

Type; Event (a happening)

This is a special type of trigger. “Events” cover all types of trigger that is neither a buff/debuff nor something that shows status. Instead it is triggered by a certain happening. Example, set it to trigger the weakaura when you have summoned Xuen, and set the weakaura to be displayed for 45 seconds after that happening and then disappear. Then it would only show when Xuen is active. Here’s the list of possible events;

Chat Message
Combatlog
Cooldown Ready (Item)
Cooldown Ready (spell)

I want you to take particular interest to “Combatlog”. There in you can set all kinds of event triggers, like someone has started casting a certain spells or summoned a specific pet. There are so many options so take a look around and get yourself familiar.

Type; Status (the state of something)

This is the type of trigger I use most. It covers pretty much everything, from cooldowns to health, power types such as mana or Chi etc. Here’s a few examples;

  • Action Usable (Example; When Touch of Death is usable)
  • Chi Power (Can also show when you have a certain number of chi)
  • Conditions (I use “Pet alive” on my Xuen wa)
  • Cooldown Progress (Spell) (Used for every cooldown wa I have)
  • Health (can be good to warn you when you’re on low health, for example)
  • Power (mana/energy/rage/focus etc. My yinyang wa uses this one)
  • Stance/Form/Aura (Serpent stance, Crane stance)
  • Totem (your Jade Serpent Statue is classified as a “Fire totem” for some reason)

Take a look around and take note on what types of triggers there are!

A typical WeakAura

If you look at typical aura, it usually has several triggers. I have an weakaura to pop up when my target is missing my Rising Sun Kick debuff, for example. It has two triggers;
Trigger 1; Aura;Rising Sun Kick, Unit;Target, Type;Debuff, Inverse (missing)
Trigger 2; Status;Stance/Form/Aura, Form; 02- Stance of the Spirited Crane
This means that when my target doesn’t have the debuff Rising Sun Kick, and when I am in Crane stance, this aura will pop up on my screen and tell me to use Rising Sun Kick to apply the debuff.

Another example is my YinYang wa that tracks my Mana. It rotates on 75%, 50% and 25%. The rotation is set in the “Animation” tab, but let’s look at the triggers.
Yinyang 100%-75% mana;
Trigger 1; Status;Power, Unit; Player, Power Type; Mana, Power(%) <=100 (100% mana or less)
Trigger 2; Status;Power, Unit; Player, Power Type; Mana, Power(%) >=75 (75% mana or more)
Trigger 3; Status;Stance/Form/Aura, Form; 01- Stance of the Wise Serpent
This means that this aura is only set to show when my mana is between the interval 100-75% and that I am in Serpent stance. Then I have the same weakauras but set for the interval 75-50%, 50-25% and 25-0% mana. There are 4 intervals in total. Whenever I cross the mana interval a new aura is triggered, which spins when it is first displays. Therefore it looks like it spins on 75%, 50% and 25% mana.


“Load” – Package it

Load tab

An aura must be loaded to be able to be triggered (show on your screen). Sometimes you do not want to load an aura group. I don’t want my Xuen aura to show when I’m playing my Warlock for example, so I set it to load only when the player unit is of Monk class and have the Xuen talent selected in the talent tree. I also want it to only load when I’m on combat. As you can see above, I’ve set the Energizing Brew aura to only show when I’m in Windwalker spec and in combat. Here are the load options;

Combat – “Load when in Combat”, “Load when not in Combat”, Disabled
Pet Battle – “Load when in Pet Battle”, “Load when not in Pet Battle”, Disabled
Never – If enabled, never load the weakaura.

Player Name – Only load when the player unit has specific name.
Realm – Only load when playing on a certain realm.
Player Class – Only load when the player unit is of a certain class.
Talent Specialization – Only load when the player unit is in a certain spec.
Talent Selected – Only load when one or several talents are chosen in the talent tree.
Player Race – Only load when the player unit is of a certain race.
Player Level – Only load when the player is on a certain level or within a interval of level.
Zone – Only load when the player unit is in a certain zone.
Instance Type – Only load when the player unit is in a certain instance type (raid, dungeon, arena etc).
Dungeon Difficulty – Only load when the player is in an instance of a certain difficulty (normal, heroic, challenge mode etc).
Player Dungeon Role – Only load when the player unit have a certain role in the dungeon (tank, healer, dps).

You know if your weakaura is loaded or not by looking at the list of weakauras to the left. There are two sections; “Loaded” and “Not Loaded”. If your WeakAura is showing in the Loaded section, it is active and can be triggered. If it’s in the Not Loaded section, it will not display on your screen even if the right conditions (triggers) are met.


“Actions” – Sound and Glow

Actions tab

This tab is used when you want your weakaura to glow or make a sound. There’s also an option to make it send out a chat message, which can be useful in certain types of situations.

If you want an icon to glow (don’t use this function on anything else, it looks weird), you enable the option in the “On Show” section. “Glow Action” should be set to “On Show”. Click on the “Choose” button that pops up and then click on the aura that shows on your screen. An alternative is to type in “WeakAuras:NameOfAura” in the “Frame” section, but it’s much easier to just click on the aura.


“Animations” – Transitions

Animations tab

This is a fun one. In this tab you make your aura fade in when it’s activated, then bounce around during its duration and finish it with a swirl. It is very easy to configure!

You can configure an animation for the start of an aura, during its active duration and when it is finished. Here are some of the preset options;
Fade In
Shrink
Grow

Flash
Bounce
Flip
Pulse
Shake
Spin
Spiral

Bounce
Fade Out
Grow
Shrink

You can also set some “Custom” animations, which basically means you base the animations on the preset choices, but add some flavor to it. For example, I want my aura to Pulse but very, very slowly. So I go to the Custom and select “Fade”. In the drop-down menu to the right, I choose “Pulse”. You may notice that nothing happens on your aura when you’ve selected it. That’s because you must type in the “Duration” how long you want the animation to last. Let’s say I put in 0.5 sec, it will pulse really fast. If I put in 20 sec, it will pulse very slowly.

You can also stack animations in Custom. Let’s say you want your aura to spin, fade in and shrink at the same time. You can achieve that with Custom animations. Try out all the options and go crazy with it!


Summary

  • A weakaura often consists of a group of several individual auras.
  • There are different types of weakauras, texture, icon, progress bar etc. Each one function in the same way but display different information.
  • The individual auras have different triggers. “Triggers” are the conditions that needs to be met in order for the aura to pop up on the screen. All different types of weakauras use triggers in the same way.
  • An aura must always have a trigger to be able to show at all.
  • You can change the look of the aura in the Display tab.
  • You can add animations to the aura in the Animations tab. Common animations are fade in/fade out and flashing/pulsing auras.
  • You can add sound, glow and chat messages to the aura in the Actions tab.
  • In the Load tab, you can set when an aura should be loaded (example; only load an aura if the character is a Monk).

So much text! But don’t worry, you don’t need to read this post from top to bottom in one go. Use this post instead as a Reference Guide as you start to learn to build your own WeakAuras. Skim through it and come back to it when you need to brush up on some specifics. Especially Triggers. Triggers are the heart of every WeakAura!


WeakAura School

Lesson 1: The Basics
Lesson 2: Simple Proc Aura
Lesson 3: Cooldown Aura



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