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December 29, 2009

An Intro to WoL: Wading through the data

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Written by: Vixsin
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WTF

World of Logs is the latest and greatest in a string of independent online combat log parsers, borne into the WoW community in early 2009, about the time that Ulduar was released. As stated on the website, the goal of WoL is “to create an online platform, where WoW gamers can analyze, share, and compare their raiding experiences quickly, reliably, and easily.” And, while it follows in the footsteps of two very successful parsers—WoW Meter Online and the grand-daddy of parsers, WoW Web Stats—there are a multitude of improvements that characterize and distinguish WoL from its parsing brethren.

Like any combat parsing tool, WoL is what you make of it. It offers a great deal of information in a variety of different analytical formats, which can be overwhelming even for those of us who like dissecting boss fights in 5-second intervals. So, to provide you with a brief introduction, or maybe supplement your own WoL discoveries, the following guide will walk you through uploading and analyzing information through WoL. Sections include:

Although I’ve tried to weave in as many screenshots as possible, feel free to follow along on one of Aftermath’s WoL reports (including the one used in this guide) or on another guild’s WoL site.

The Facts

Before I get too deep into the tools that WoL offers to both combat log analysts and freshly minted raiders alike, there are some important facts to note:

  • Like the parsers before it, WoL is provided free of charge and will host past reports for around a month (unless the report includes a ranked parse, in which case WoL will host it until the ranking is no longer applicable.)
  • Unlike WoM and WWS, WoL will include “healing” estimates for every shielding effect in game (including PW:S, Protection of Ancient Kings and the like). This makes it a favorite for underappreciated healers everywhere, and especially disc priests.
  • You will need to associate your uploaded logs with an account (meaning you cannot upload them anonymously).
  • You do not need to be in a guild to set up an account; I have my own WoL page independent of the one dedicated to Aftermath that I’ll upload parses on so that I can study my performance on 10-man or PuG runs.
  • You will need to start and end recording on your in-game combat log, either by using the /combatlog command or by utilizing an add-on like Loggerhead (which has been my saving grace many times over!)

Navigation

With the many layers of information that WoL offers, it’s fairly easy to get lost when first navigating the site. Thankfully, WoL uses the same navigation theme throughout, so getting back to your starting point is just a function of using one of the four main menus, which can be described by their type of data offerings:

WoL's 4 drop-down navigation menus

  1. Data Category – where you can select the type of data that you want to review (dps, healing, incoming damage, deaths, etc.) and access query tools.
  2. Fight Selection – where you can select specific encounters, review data for all attempts on one particular boss, see data on trash only, etc.
  3. Player Detail – where you can dial down to specific player’s performance.
  4. Creature Detail – where you can dial down to specific mobs or bosses.

The important thing to remember about navigation is that WoL’s menus operate on a complementary basis, almost like a 3 part search string where you identify the what (what information you’d like to view), the when (what fight you want the information to reflect), and the who (what player(s) or creature(s) you’d like information about). For example, in the screenshot above, were I to mouse-over the “Players” menu and select “Vixsin”, while leaving the other menus at their default settings, I would then be directed to a page showing me a detail of all of Vixsin’s information (dps, healing, incoming damage, deaths, etc.) over *all* of the fights in the combat log.

Likewise, leaving other menus at their default settings and selecting a Data Category or Fight Selection, would take me to a page with an overview of my selected information. So, the main thing to remember here is that navigation isn’t just 1-dimensional–searching according to “what, when and who” will significantly increase your chances of finding what you’re looking for.

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Dashboard

Most typically, your viewing session will start on a Dashboard page which has an abundance of information and a host of starting points for you to begin your combat log exploration. On this page you’ll see summaries for damage, healing, etc. as well as exhaustive lists of all of the creatures, spells, and attacks used during the fight—all of which are interesting but not particularly useful in the grand scheme of things. However, on the dashboard there is one summary that you will be unable to locate anywhere else: “Dispels, Interrupts, and Spellsteals”. I bring this up because on some fights it’s very important to know if your interrupters/dispellers are doing their job or slacking off and the dashboard is the only easy place to locate that aggregated info.

WoL – Dashboard for a Night of Raid Encounters

Also, do note that you can view the Dashbaord for any particular segment or boss fight. So, if you wanted to see all the purges, dispels, and spellsteals on last week’s Jaraxxus kill, you’d simply select Kills > Jaraxxus under the Fight Selection menu, then scroll down to see the summary at the bottom of the dashboard. To get back to the higher-level summary page at any time, simply select “Dashboard” + “Full Report” from the first and second menus.

In addition, you can view a listing of all of your attempts for the evening by selecting “Compare” in the Report window of the Dashboard.

^ Back to the Top ^

Dialing Down Into a Fight

Now that you have an overview of all of the encounters, next you’ll probably want to start looking at the specifics of a fight or fights. One of the benefits of WoL is that you can view aggregated data in a litany of ways—all are selectable through the Fight Selection menu. As shown in the picture below, the Fight Selection menu is broken down into several different types of information:

WoL – Menu Detail (showing the various dial-down options)

  1. Bosses – Will provide links to every boss fight for the raid, including both wipes and kills
  2. Kills – Will provide links to the kill reports for every boss fight
  3. Wipes – Will provide links to all boss attempts which resulted in wipes
  4. Trash – will show stats for trash only
  5. Full Report – will return you to the general default view and the dashboard

It is important to note that clicking on any of the above headings will provide you with summary-level information for your selection. So, if you wanted to see information about the Jaraxxus Heroic Kill alone, you would select Kills > Lord Jaraxxus > Lord Jaraxxus 25H (the H = Heroic mode). However, if you wanted to see data on all of the Lord Jaraxxus kills for the raid duration, since we did ToC and TOGC in the same night, you would instead select Kills > Lord Jaraxxus to see combined data.

So, for the sake of example, let’s take a look at our kill of Faction Champs 25H. Selecting the kill from the Fight Selection menu brings me to a new dashboard page, this time showing information pertaining to only the fight in which we killed Faction Champs.

Again, this is the same information conveyed by the overall dashboard, just narrowed down to only include information about the fight in question. Most notably, the “Report” pane at the top of the dashboard now reflects information regarding the fight, including its duration and the event timeline (which I’ll touch on a bit later in the Graph section.) However, in our quest for specific information about our Faction Champs kill, we still haven’t dialed down quite far enough. Next, from the Data Category, we’ll select “Healing Done” to get a better picture of performance during the encounter. (Sorry all you dpsers and tanks, I’m a healer so you get a healing example. /thumbs nose at you all)

The detail pages are really where the action is, and where you’ll be able to get a better picture of what happened during the course of a fight. Detail pages, like the one below, will provide you with breakdowns of the selected data category, by person, for the encounter.

WoL – Overall Healing for a Heroic Faction Champs Encounter

The Graph:

The Graph will highlight major events during the fight—player deaths, rebirths, boss deaths, bloodlusts, and will provide a mapping of the data category’s performance over time. In the example, we are looking at the output of healing over the 7min 28sec fight. (When on a detail page, you can still see the duration of an encounter by referencing the time in parenthesis on the Fight Selection menu.) The four fluctuating horizontal lines shown on the graph are explained by the legend on the right—they detail the healing output of “Vixsin” (in blue), “Hope” (in white), and “Devonn” (in grey) as well as our combined hps (in orange). This tracking corresponds to the white tick boxes on the left-hand side of the Healing Done breakdown. Although, by default, WoL will display the top 3 and the cumulative value, for any fight you can choose to display as many players’ information as you’d like.

Underneath the graph legend are the Event Display tools which will activate or hide the vertical event lines in the graph area. Event Displays include: player, boss and creature deaths, totals and major events (like Bloodlust duration). As you can see from the above Faction Champs fight, we bloodlusted at the start (denoted by the blue highlighted segment at the start of the timeline), had one death during the bloodlust (the red vertical line), one rebirth (the orange vertical line) and, were you to mouse over the first green line, you would see that we killed “Shaabad” first that night.

WoL - Example Death Log

WoL – Example Death Log

Also important to note about the graph is that it will enable you to get even more detail on the events of a fight or a time segment. For example, right-clicking on the red vertical line showing a player death will give you the option of viewing a death log, detailing the incoming healing and damage for up to 30 seconds prior to the player’s demise. (In the example, you can see that the player died in the span of 1.5 seconds, with no healing on him during that time except for VE.) The graph will also allow you to narrow the data timeline to your own personal selection. For example, to view only the healing done during the bloodlust segment of our Faction Champs encounter, I would click on the graph, highlight the segment of time encompassing the bloodlust, and then right-click on my selection and select “Set Page to Selection”. The resultant page is shown below. Note that the data display has now shifted to reflect only the time segment selected, both in terms of the graph and the summary on the bottom.

WoL – Detail of healing done during a time segment

Data Breakdown:

As shown in the above examples, the table below the graph displays summary data for the selected time segment. Although fairly self-explanatory, it is important to highlight several bits of information:

  • For healing, although the columns are labeled “DPS” and “DPS(e)”, these effectively represent “HPS” and “HPS(e)” for the time segment
  • DPS/HPS = Total Damage or Healing / Active time of the segment
  • DPS(e) / HPS (e) = Total Damage or Healing / Total time of the segment
  • Pets are shown as part of the Owner’s totals (note that the little downwards triangle next to “Vixsin” shows that I had some healing attributed to my pet—in my case, a totem. Clicking on the triangle will expand the breakdown to show individual values for “Vixsin” and for “Healing Stream Totem IX”).
  • Also note the familiar icons to the right of the data breakdown—they will allow you to add/remove pets, creatures and vehicles from the table.

^ Back to the Top ^

Expression Editor

The Expression Editor is, for all intents and purposes, a re-packaging of WoL’s early Log Browser feature, which allowed a user to comb through the uploaded combat log , looking for specific events that might not have been captured in all of the data summaries. Released in late October, the Expression Editor allows you to build your own simple or complex search strings, instead of relying on a query interface. Using common Binary operators and identifiers, you can search for just about any set of conditions (provided you have the patience to go through a couple of iterations of your query before you nail the right phrasing.)

As a point of reference, the following are some of the common identifiers that can be used in a query (a complete list can be found here).

  • Actors: sourcename, targetname
  • ActorType: sourcetype:String, targettype, sourcereaction, targetreaction
  • Event type: type (eg: type=TYPE_HEAL equates to all healing events, and can also be represented as type=3. See the list linked above for the complete listing of types)
  • Amounts: amount, absorbed, overheal, overkill
  • Spell: spell, spellid (the former is the complete name of the spell while the latter is the in-game spell id, easily found by looking up the spell on wowhead.com)
  • Short cuts: damagetaken, healingdone

As far as I’m aware, there really aren’t any limiting factors on the complexity of query that you can make, so you’re only limited by your grasp of the language. To help give you some ideas of the possibilities out there for search queries, I’ve included two examples below.

Example 1

First, let’s say that I don’t particularly trust WoL’s parsing of the Faction Champs’ fight and I’m questioning whether it correctly recorded all of my crits on Lesser Healing Wave. Being the nublet that I am, I’d first formulate a query that looked like this:

Spell=”Lesser Healing Wave”

Unfortunately, a query like this would net me something that looked like the this. It isn’t precisely what I wanted but with a little more clarification, I can narrow down my query to only include information about the times where my LHW actually landed. Refining my query to the following can net me exactly what I wanted:

type=TYPE_HEAL and spell=”Lesser Healing Wave”

Alternately, if this is a Anub fight that we’re looking at and I want to only see my applied Lesser Healing Waves on one of the tanks, I can go with the following to find the answer:

type=TYPE_HEAL and spell="Lesser Healing Wave" and targetname="Skru" and sourcename="Vixsin"

Example 2

For another example of the power of Expression Editor, let’s turn back to Faction Champs. A short while ago there was an amazing WoW Forum article detailing the Champs’ AI, which maintained you could get the Faction Champs to direct all healing towards one target simply by having one of your players consistently dpsing one of the Champs’ pets. We can in fact confirm this theory by using the Expression Editor to review all healing done by the Faction Champs (something not available in a WoL summary page)

type=3 and sourcereaction=64 and sourcename !="Healing Stream Totem"

As we can see, the Faction Champs tried desperately to keep “Cat” alive, but in the end they failed.

Unfortunately, I’d love to be able to offer a litany of other examples, but given that I’m rather new to the query language, there are still things that I’m learning as well. Fortunately for both me and you, however, is that the WoL forums are a great place to gather ideas, suggestions, and hints on how to find the results you’re looking for.

^ Back to the Top ^

Uploading a Log

As I mentioned at the start, to upload a file to WoL you first have to be associated with an account, whether it is a guild account or a personal one you create. (If ever a guild asks you to supply a combat log parse, “I don’t have access to my previous guild’s logs” or “My guild didn’t keep logs” are no longer viable excuses!)

WoL - Uploader Client Tool

WoL – Uploader Client Tool

Once you’ve created an account, and logged into the site, to begin the upload process, you’ll click the “Client” link in the upper left-hand corner. Upon opening the Java app, you’ll see a control panel with 3 options. The left-most option “Open a File” starts the process of uploading your combat log to the WoL site, while the right-most option “Start a Live Report Session” will take you through the process of starting a live upload (helpful if your guild wants to look at fight analytics in real-time.)

WoL - Client Uploader Confirmation

WoL – Client Uploader Confirmation

Once you’ve selected “Open a File”, you’ll be prompted to find your combat log on your computer or storage device. Note that unlike WMO or WWS, WoL will not archive your combatlog to a different location unless you tell it to. Upon selecting the correct log, you’ll be shown a mini-summary of the combat log and have the option to add a comment to the data set to distinguish any special elements (eg: a different healing strat, new boss attempts, etc.) Once you’ve confirmed that the information is correct, click “Upload” to start the process. A few moments later, and your log will be online!

^ Back to the Top ^

So now that your head has exploded …

Yes, I do understand that this is a lot of information to absorb all at once, and I’ve possibly even managed to intimidate you a slight bit in my excitement to highlight some of the most notable tools offered by WoL. But rest assured, the benefits that WoL offers to both nerdy and laid-back gamers alike makes it worth the time investment. And hopefully, once you start uploading and analyzing, you’ll find the data and feedback that you’ve been missing. Enjoy!






9 Comments


  1. What a fantastic write up!

    I don’t think it was mentioned, so I just wanted to add that you also have the option to “subscribe” to WoL for your account, and it will then hold your logs indefinately for you (or until your subscription ends, I imagine). I’m trying to remember how much the subscriptions run, but I can’t off of the top of my head. I do know that you can do 6 months or 12 month, and it is paid in Euros (I think!). Subscribing will also remove the adverts from WoL, which is ultimately why we ended up with the subscription :)
    .-= Beruthiel´s last blog ..Your Gearscore Can Kiss My… =-.


  2. This is a great article. I post WoL reports for every raid and I get get so many complaints and questions from people who have no idea how to read it. I will be pointing them to this article from now on. You’ve made my life much easier :)
    .-= Jasyla´s last blog ..Druid Gear Wish List =-.


  3. Thanks very much for the feedback. As with most things, I’m still a student of WoL so there are definitely some facets I understand more than others (and some that I had no idea about–thanks Beruthiel!) I’m hoping to make this, at the very least, a 2-part series with a forthcoming post about how to interpret/analyze WoL, (from a healer’s perspective of course). Stay tuned!


  4. I’ve used WoL and I find its style very appealing. However, I stopped using it for my guild’s combat log parses. Since you clearly more than I do about it, maybe you can shed some light on my issue.

    Back in our Ulduar days, at one point I was evaluating WoL, WoW Web Stats, and WoWMeter Online to decide which one I liked best. I ran a combat log through all three. WWS and WMO gave exactly the same results down to the decimal. WoL gave higher values for everything across the board – DPS, HPS, etc.. I assumed that WoL was in error. I tried with other combat logs, and it always came out that way – WWS and WMO agreed, and WoL gave higher values.

    Any idea why that might be?
    .-= Dinaer´s last blog ..ICC Rep Runs – Get In There! =-.


  5. Love love love this post Vixsin. I am slowly learning to wade my way through WoL, and it’s my first time using a combat log parser of any type in a raid, so a lot of this is very new to me.

    I hope as you learn more about the queries and such, you’ll post some more examples of how to find specific things – maybe for specific fights?

    For example, Juzaba did a really good job of analyzing someone’s Saurfang WoL report and showing how she figured out what the problems were in the plusheal forums here: http://plusheal.com/viewtopic.php?p=54798#p54798

    Love your blog, you obviously put a lot of thought and effort into your posts.


  6. [...] WoL Introduction–I wish this blogger would post more often for my reading enjoyment.  The posts are always excellent, and this one explains in meticulous detail how to navigate World of Logs.  Life In Group 5, especially if you’re a shaman, should be in your reader folks! [...]


  7. [...] and a wipe, I thought I’d pass along some of my tips for Healing Analysis. In comparison to the Introduction to WoL, this healing analysis is going to be relatively brief, and only cover some of the more basic tools [...]


  8. [...] WoL Introduction–I wish this blogger would post more often for my reading enjoyment.  The posts are always excellent, and this one explains in meticulous detail how to navigate World of Logs.  Life In Group 5, especially if you’re a shaman, should be in your reader folks! [...]



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