As we wrap up our patch 2.2 AddOn Author Interview series, we have an interview with cladhaire - the developer of Clique, PerfectRaid and many other great AddOns and libraries that are used by a number of other authors. He also contributed heavily to the Ace and Ace2 frameworks, as well as creating his own - Dongle - and is now assisting in the creation of Ace3.
Curse: Could you tell us a little about your background in World of Warcraft and how you got into AddOn design?
cladhaire: I began my work in the addon community when Vika (the author of WatchDog) was called away to serve for the U.S. military, and was unable to continue supporting his addon. In my time working with WatchDog, I tried to stay as true to Vika's initial vision as possible, but added features and fixed bugs as necessary. Once I was involved, the flood gates opened and I've created a number of addons that I required for my daily play, some of which have been included in the default UI.
Curse: What was the first AddOn you worked on for World of Warcraft?
cladhaire: WatchDog was the first one I worked on, but Bishop was the first addon I tried to create. Bishop was intended to be a robust healing efficiency meter, but once I got the proof of concept code done I realized that most healers weren't ready to see how inefficient they were being. Current healing meters don't properly factor in heal over time spells not ticking counting against you, which ends up inflating numbers for druids, for example.
Curse: How has being an AddOn author changed the way you play World of Warcraft and how you interact with fellow players?
cladhaire: Not much has changed, actually. My guild has another prominent addon authors (coincidentally) and apart from the people who occasionally log onto my server to bug me with feature requests, it's been pretty much the same.
Curse: By the same token, has it changed your view of the work Blizzard has done with the game?
cladhaire: I appreciate the extensible API they've created, and the fact that they use it to define their own UI. That's just an example of brewing your own that I can appreciate!
Curse: How badly did WoW 2.0 affect the AddOns you were working on at the time? Did it require you to re-design any of the core features?
cladhaire: WatchDog unfortunately got left by the wayside just due to time constraints (I had too many projects at that time), but Clique was just a matter of rewriting the system to use the new secure templates. I took this opportunity to get rid of the "plugin" mechanism that Clique was using before, and introduced a standard for click-casting that's made writing addons that support it much easier. PerfectRaid on the other hand took a very large hit, since many of the features were no longer possible. I'm still working to rebuild it :P.
Curse: Were any of your AddOns "killed," so to speak, by WoW 2.0?
cladhaire: Some shifted focus, but all still were possible.
Curse: From speaking with Kaelten, you were a very integral part of the creation of both Ace1 and Ace2; you also created the Dongle library suite. How did the previous experience with Ace help in developing Dongle?
cladhaire: Dongle was more of small addon framework for my own personal use, but it seems some developers have liked the lightweight system enough to include it in their own addons. My positive experiences with the original Ace framework inspired me heavily when defining the scope of Dongle. I learned a lot from the direction ckknight took Ace2 after he took over and set of a system to help avoid feature creep, or adding functions to a library that only my own addons used. A good community of developers helped me in the discussion of any new features or changes to the framework, and I'm happy with what we turned out as a first product.
Curse: Rumor has it you're assisting in the creation of Ace3 as well, could you comment on this?
cladhaire: The database system I wrote for Dongle is extremely small and familiar to developers, so I've contributed that code to the Ace3 project as a base. I'm also involved in the development discussions and process as just another perspective to round out conversations.
Curse: You're the creator of Clique, an incredibly popular AddOn among tens of thousands of players; what made you decide to develop Clique, and are you happy with how it turned out?
cladhaire: I'm extremely happy with where Clique is, and once I get the tooltip issues fixed (I have a good idea that was just suggested to me that I'd like to implement) I'll be ready to support it in any way possible, but happy with the feature set. I used CastParty when it initially came out, and then WatchDog when it was written, but knew the interface could work better. That's where the concept of clicking directly on spells in your spellbook to bind click-casts came from and I'm glad to see how it's worked out. Splitting the click-casting portion of WatchDog out into Clique was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Curse: For players not familiar, can you describe the functionality of TomTom?
cladhaire: TomTom is a simple navigational addon for World of Warcraft that allows you to set waypoints (notes on the minimap and world map) to allow you to better plan your travels. It helps when combined with an addon like LightHeaded, or any website that provides you with coordinates.
Curse: What other AddOns have you designed recently that players may not be fully aware of?
cladhaire: LightHeaded is an addon that takes all the user comments for quests from wowhead.com, and displays them in-game alongside your quest log. The panel is collapsable so you can experience quests fully when completing them for the first time, or open up the comments panel to get a quick list of hints or coordinates to help you complete the quest
Curse: If you could change one thing about the World of Warcraft API, and how it limits certain AddOn functionality, what would that be?
cladhaire: I'm fine with the limits Blizzard imposes, it allows us to play their game as they intend while giving us a crazy amount of flexibility. I'd like to see unique id's exposed for quests so I can more easil correlate comments, but that's not a deal breaker for me.
Curse: Thanks for the interview, cladhaire! Is there anything you'd like to say to your AddOn fans, or to Blizzard?
cladhaire: Thanks to my users for sticking with me and helping me troubleshoot any problems that might exist in my addons. With Patch 2.2 there was a change to the attribute system that affected Clique, and since I am in the middle of a move from the U.S. to England I don't have access to WoW for the time being. Immediately, I had 5-6 users working with me directly to help resolve the issue. That sort of support is what drives me forward.
Special note: Thanks to cladhaire for taking the time to do this interview at a time when he was preparing to move from the United States to England; it's certainly something that requires a lot of attention, so for him to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions means a lot!