I was a bit conflicted about which add-on to feature next, as there are so many great add-ons that I use. In the end, I decided that since a large number of them are Library Data Broker (LDB) plug-ins, it wouldn’t make much sense to start featuring plug-ins without first mentioning what I’m plugging them into. Data Broker display bars are easily among the most common add-ons out there. You’ll have literally dozens of choices to make with not many differences between them.
Before I get into your options, though, I’ll say a word on what these bars are and what they do. Without getting overly technical, lets put it this way; pretend that your gaming interface is a smart phone. The LDB display is the widget menu that gives you access to all the cool apps your phone can launch. The LDB plugins are the cool apps themselves.
It also allows you to use plugins to provide an always-available on screen display for some information that you might otherwise have to poke around for (how much gold you have, for example).
The bar serves much the same function as the little button icons around your minimap, except that a broker bar keeps them in a less-cluttered way, keeping both the plug-ins and your mini-map more visible. If I were to click on one of these icons, it would open up the add-on interface menu of the appropriate add-on. For example, clicking on the colorful bars icon would open up Recount, allowing me to see my fight info, and then I can just close Recount and go on about my business. It keeps the add-on just a click away, but it doesn’t permanently take up a big chunk of my screen space.
Plug-ins also add some additional functionality that is simply not available with the standard mini-map icons. For example, the gold listed up there allows me to monitor how much gold my character is carrying, but hovering over the gold would bring up a floating tooltip that tells me even more gold-related info: how much I have earned since logging on, in the last hour, today, this week, this month, how much I have on each character, how much I have total, etc.
So, now to your choices. Like I said before you’ll have dozens of them. Just off the top of my head I can name Bazooka, TitanPanel, ChocolateBar, MonkeyBar, Fortress, ButtonBin, and Carousel (sorry if any of those are no longer with us, I’ve settled on using only one of them, for now).
I gave a few broker display bars a shot when FuBar went the way of the dodo (alas, poor Fu, we knew thee well). I settled on Bazooka fairly quickly, simply because it was the first one I tried and I liked the way it looked/felt and there didn’t seem to be much difference between it and the others I tried so it seemed to me to be a waste of time to keep on trying new versions of the wheel when I already had one that did the job just fine. Your mileage may vary, but there really didn’t seem to me to be a whole lot of difference between them so just give Bazooka a try (or if you like the name of one of the others I mentioned better, try that one out). The only thing to be wary of is a project that seems to be left un-updated for long periods of time. If your option isn’t updated for Cataclysm by now, you’re probably better off with a different choice.
So, if any of the functions I listed in the article sounded good to you, stay tuned: you ain’t seen nothing, yet. The real magic comes in the plug-ins and there are some really awesome ones out there.