AddOn Studio for World of Warcraft documentation
Learn how to use AddOn Studio for World of Warcraft to develop AddOns in Lua and XML.
This intended to provide filler information for the regular, very short Getting Started section on the main edition page. This is for anyone who might not necessarily have a lot of experience with Visual Studio, using folders in Windows, or in some of the other related areas. Documentation is added as time permits.
- Home: AddOn Studio for WoW
- Change History: AddOn Studio for WoW History
- Edition Notes:
- Issues: Issue Tracker and Forums
- Discord: ASfW
- Twitter: @AddonStudioWoW
- Tutorials: (in AddOn Studio) Help > Tutorials > AddOn Studio Tutorials
- Readme: (in AddOn Studio) Help > Additional Docs > Readme
- WoW Reference: WoW customization portal and API reference
About AddOn Studio
An introduction to the AddOn Studio IDE and AddOn development
With AddOn Studio for World of Warcraft, it be deceptively easy to get started and see your first AddOn running in WoW within in minutes, even with no real experience. However, the complexities inherent in game development when combined with a modern fully featured IDE like AddOn Studio, can be complex and can often seem overwhelming.
An "IDE" is an Integrated Development Environment, where lots of tools and facilities are clustered together in one application in an attempt to make things more convenient, to save time, and help you focus more on what you are really trying to do, so the theory goes... Many times, however, this doesn't actually happen. Just mastering the development environment, itself, can be a daunting task in addition to everything else.
With all this in mind, I'm going to do my rendition of "breaking things down" for how to get started with WoW AddOn development and AddOn Studio, especially for those who aren't already "hobbyists" or professional programmers and might be just starting out or were just curious.
AddOn Studio Basics
A more detailed Quick Start
Instructions on the edition pages, AddOn Studio 2010 for WoW, AddOn Studio 2015 for WoW or AddOn Studio 2022 for WoW, cover all the essential steps. It's basically just copying the folder in the zip, and then running the executable. From there you can create a new WoW AddOn project, click 'build' to deploy to WoW, and then '/reload' in WoW to see it.
- Install Visual Studio or Isolated Shell using the links provided. Just click and run and follow the instructions. Should go smoothly.
- Click the AddOn Studio download link provided.
- Click "open" from the browser or download folder, to open the zip or 7z file.
- In the open zip file, move the 'AddOn Studio for WoW' folder to your desktop, or another folder.
- In the 'AddOn Studio for WoW' folder, run the 'WowAddonStudio.exe' application.
- Right-click the running application in the task bar, then click "Pin to task bar" to make a shortcut.
- Create a new WoW Addon project from the menu: File > New > Project.
- Choose 'Basic Warcraft Addon' and click 'OK'
- In the 'Build' menu at the top, click 'build WowAddon', which deploys and copies the addon from the project folders to WoW
- Run WoW or type '/reload' and hit enter to see the basic addon show up.
- Right-click on the 'WowAddon' project in the Solution Explorer tree all the way on the left, and click 'clean'.
- In WoW type '/reload' and hit enter to see the basic addon is removed.
- In the AddOn Studio menu, click 'Help'.
- Find the Tutorials menu, with AddOn Studio for WoW project specific help and tutorials.
- Find the other WoW UI development help links in 'Additional Documentation'.
- 'Readme' in 'Additional Documentation', has formal product release details and requirements.
- 'About' for product version and component details.
- 'Check Updates' to help checking for AddOn Studio for WoW updates
- 'Support Forums' for AddOn Studio user discussion forums
- 'Report a Bug' for AddOn Studio issue and bug support
- Rename or delete the old 'AddOn Studio for WoW' folder.
- Follow the installation steps for 'AddOn Studio for WoW' again
- Delete the 'AddOn Studio for WoW' folder
- Right-click on task bar and/or start menu icon and click 'Unpin'
- Uninstall or keep the Visual Studio install
Getting AddOn Studio Running
Even more detailed Installation and running of AddOn Studio for the first time.
The instructions on AddOn Studio 2010 for WoW or AddOn Studio 2015 for WoW pretty much cover all the real steps you need, and should be pretty simple to follow. It's basically as easy as copying the folder in the zip, and then running the executable. Below is a more lengthy look at each installation step for anyone wanting more detail or help.
1. Install the shell
Install the free Microsoft Visual Studio or Isolated Shell
With AddOn Studio 2010, the Isolated shell installs a stand-alone version of the Visual Studio, the 'ISO Shell'. With AddOn Studio 2015, installs the Community edition of Visual Studio. These are both free as in not costing anything, and free legally to download and install for your own use.
The install should go without a hitch and is fairly friendly. You can just choose the defaults, which will already have everything needed.
For the Isolated Shell with 2010, most of what it installs are prerequisites that any other application might have already installed, so the install may go quite quickly, and you do not need Visual Studio itself. For AddOn Studio 2010, if you already have the full Visual Studio 2010 installed you can skip this step. If you have Visual Studio 2010 Express, then you will still need the 2010 Isolated Shell. For AddOn Studio 2015, if any version of Visual Studio 2015 is already installed, except for Express versions, then you can skip this step also.
Installing Visual Studio Community for 2015 or Isolated Shell for 2010, will not interfere with an existing Visual Studio install of any kind. You only need to install this once, ever, and after this step you won't need anything else, except for AddOn Studio for WoW itself, to get started.
2. Install AddOn Studio
AddOn Studio for World of Warcraft has a very simple install process. It is however, a slightly manual process. All that is involved is downloading the .zip, or .7z, file from the download link, then opening the zip file, and then copying the 'AddOn Studio for WoW' folder in the zip file to a folder on your hard drive. Yep that's it... that's all you have to do.
It's suggested that you create a folder like 'd:\apps' or 'c:\apps' and then copy the 'AddOn Studio for WoW' folder into that. You should end up with 'd:\apps\AddOn Studio for WoW'. This avoids any mishaps in 'Program Files' and is a lot easier to find later. Copying the 'AddOn Studio for WoW' to your desktop is also an even easier option, and maybe even easier to find.
This type of install is often referred to as a "Portable Install", and the program just runs from the copied files, where ever they sit. There is no regular installer or uninstaller. You are free to place the files anywhere you like, and move or delete them at any time. You are also free to have multiple copies, and can start and run more than one instance of AddOn Studio at a time. And the files can just be deleted anytime you want. Thus, to install a new version, simply rename or delete the old one, and follow the AddOn Studio the install step again. You don't have to install Visual Studio or the ISO shell, in step 1, again ever.
3. Run AddOn Studio
This will be the hardest part if you aren't used to starting an application from inside it's app folder, but only hard the first time. Just open the newly copied "AddOn Studio for WoW" folder and find "WowAddonStudio.exe", and double-click. If you found it, that's all there is to it and the program will start.
However, if for some reason you see a sea of files all named WowAddonStudio with no extension except one ".exe", then is because you have your Windows Explorer set to not show extensions, which is fine, and is how Windows usually comes by default. In fact, one of the files is actually named "WowAddonStudio.exe.config" and with extensions hidden will look like the right file, but its not. To see extensions, "hide extensions for known file types" can be disabled.
Another way is to click on each file and look at the status bar at the bottom or look top the right if you have detail view selected which will reveal the file type. To disable "hide extensions for known file types: from the Windows Explorer window you are already in, press "Alt" > Click "Tools" in the top menu > Click "Folder Options..." > Click the "View" tab > Find "Hide extensions for known types" about half way down the list > Uncheck that option > Click "OK".
4. Make a Shortcut
Now that you have found the exe file, you can make an shortcut. There are tons of ways to do this.
For Windows 10, 8.1 and 8, probably the easiest thing to do is to just right-click on the running application in the Windows task bar, and click "Pin to task bar". And additionally if desired, after right-clicking the first time, right-click again on the "AddOn Studio for ..." line and click "Pin to Start". At that point you should have a pinned shortcut icon on the windows task bar, and/or one in the start menu, and you are done.
For Windows 7 and Windows Vista (or Windows 10, 8.1, or 8 as an alternate way) just right-click on the application file, the real ".exe" file, and then click either "Pin to task bar" or "Pin to startup menu". At that point you should see a pinned shortcut icon on either and you are done.
On XP (or Windows Vista or Windows 7 as an alternate way) you can, using the *right* mouse button, drag the file to the taskbar "quick launch" menu, or the start menu, or the desktop. And when you release the mouse button, select "create shortcut". And you are done :)
Hints and help for Getting Started in AddOn Studio
"So I've got it running, now what? I see all the little windows and toolbars in the app, but absolutely no intuitive anything showing what I should be doing, other than the old-school File menu." If you are here.. then we are good-to-go.
A few things first, and then the 60 second blitz to seeing your first AddOn in WoW.
- (More to be added here later...)
- This may also be a good time to check out the Tutorials in AddOn Studio, in the mean time. They are a bit dated, but go over the most important aspects of getting around AddOn Studio while doing development. The 'in-program' tutorials contain lots of screen shots and illustrations as well.
- In AddOn Studio: navigate Help > Tutorials > AddOn Studio Tutorials
For those who are Legally minded, or are otherwise concerned or interested. Reading the AddOn Policy below is strongly suggested for everyone.
- World of Warcraft - AddOn Policy
- Historic "Glider" Summary Judgement
- Blizzard General Legal FAQ and Copyright Infringement Summary Reminders
WoW customization reference
Advanced Instructions and Help
Further advanced help and options.
Making Portable and Networked AddOn Studio Installs
One of the benefits of a "Portable Install" type, is the ability to run from a thumb-drive (or pen-drive or USB-drive), or from a network. This allows you to run AddOn Studio on any machine you like, 'at will'. You will still need to make sure the prerequisites are installed, those are however rolled up into the 'ISO Shell' in step 1. So all you would need to do is to make a copy of the 'ISO Shell' available on the thumb-drive or network, and copy the 'aswow' folder to the same drive, like 'e:\apps\aswow'. If you remove the drive after AddOn Studio is fully loaded and running it will appear to still work, however it is strongly advised that you close AddOn Studio before removing the drive. For those with 32 GB of a portable media drive, you may also be able to make an all-in-one 'portable AddOn development environment' on a drive. If you have room, copy the ISO Shell install, copy WoW and/or the Interface ToolKit, copy the AddOn Studio install. You can then tell AddOn Studio where to find WoW or the ToolKit in settings, which are saved with the 'per user' settings on that machine, and which you wont have to do again unless the drive-letter changes for the portable media.
Important: I feel compelled to mention that WoW content and files are only legally usable by those who have bought the game and/or agreed to TOS for trial account, and only for that specific matching set of WoW files, and only for your own use. Technically the Trial version of the WoW files are different, and show up on Blizzard servers differently. That being said, however, the specific actual resource and content files are the same.
And that being said...
Content Rollups for Localization
- Note: Anything described here is solely for your own personal use concerning content you already have license to use. Redistribution of Blizzard files must be in accordance with the TOS and License.
For those who have to deal with multiple language versions of WoW, you can strip down the installs making one set of manageable content for development. A starting from nothing 'complete and proper' way to do this is to either 1) obtain each language ToolKit and manually merge, or 2) obtain multiple language WoW installs. One way to obtain the multiple language installs, in addition to the WoW languages you already have in your own WoW install, is to go and download additional trial versions in other languages. This is important for testing with the two non-western sets of languages: character based like Asian languages, and right-to-left languages like Arabic. With the Panda versions of WoW this for many will start becoming a support issue. Getting there is way harder than it should be, and how to get there goes like this...
- For downloading extremely foreign language versions of the trial, you will have to be crafty in navigating foreign language web pages and creating logins. In doing this you have the option of downloading the trial version with 'additional' languages, just like the U.S. download pages have the option of downloading with es-MX or not. Each of downloads will also contain a fallback version of English UI content. I would suggest getting the extra language versions.
- Once you have downloaded, say, the Taiwanese with extra languages support, can install to "wowTw" folder instead of 'wow' or 'world of warcraft' to keep them separate. After the install, wait until the WoW Loader has completely finished downloading. Start that WoW, log in, accept the TOS, then go back to the loader. In the loader, specify each of the alternate languages, and let the Loader again download the whole language. Start the loader once again and make sure there's nothing else for the loader to give you. Once you have installed, this copy of WoW will mark itself in your windows registry as "the current version of wow". AddOn Studio by default will pick that install of WoW, which you can change in the AddOn Studio settings.
- The only relevant portion of the install theoretically for AddOn dev is in the 'Data' folder. Inside that folder are folders that look like 'enTW' and 'zhTW'. Those are the language specific portions of WoW and are also the UI specific portions in total. The WoW UI content is always language specific, even if there are redundancies between them. In this case 'enTW' is English localized for Taiwan, and 'zhTW' is technically Chinese localized for Taiwan even though its really kind of its own language, and just to give you some context and perspective. The 'WTF' folder in the base WoW install folder can also be significant if you are trying to ensure or test variables. AddOn Studio will use the currently set WoW language by default, which is stored in the WTF folder in Config.wtf. Which language AddOn Studio uses can also be changed in the AddOn Studio settings.
Tutorial of the Day
- 06/01/2011 - Old Russian Tutorial - but one of the best I've seen outside of WoWWiki (English Translation)
Got to love the brutal honesty in the commentary, and in the ensuing discussion about WoW in general. God save our English language. :)
- 08/05/2011 - AddOn in an Hour tutorial - A nice, relaxed, "finding your nose" starter tutorial, written as much more of a "how to not hang yourself getting started" blog. Recommended...
- AddOn Studio 2010 for WoW
- AddOn Studio 2015 for WoW
- AddOn Studio 2022 for WoW
- AddOn Studio for WoW
- AddOn Studio for WoW History