Creating a Desktop Template

Guide Written by MissEcho

If you have a favourite desktop 'layout' and have a few characters to set up in UOKR, or just wish to redo your settings once you have played for a while and discovered what settings you like best, you may start (or restart) your characters with a generic layout or 'template' to save yourself a lot of time and formatting. This template may include any common macros, user settings, key bindings and window positioning that you prefer. It is done by duplicating the data files on a 'new' character/s with that of an established character, one which is already set up with your preferred layout.

Step by Step Template Creation

1.   Firstly decide which common features (eg macros, chat settings, graphic preferences, key bindings etc) you would like all your characters to have and decide the preferred positioning of your windows, hotbars, backpack, maps, paperdoll and character sheet. Set these up in your first character and when you are happy with the look and have tested that all is working fine, log out to save your settings. You may add any 'unique' settings for this character after finishing the template. It is a good idea to log in again to make sure all your settings have been stored correctly before continuing. For the purposes of this exercise I will refer to this character as 'Character 1' (if you are creating it would be the name of your character).

2.   Open your Windows Explorer and follow the path: My Documents/EA Games/Ultima Online/User Data/Account Name/Shard

Figure 1: How to find your User Data Files

3.   In the Shard folder you will find the user data files for any character you have previously logged into the client. In this case we have 3 characters. If you wish to have all six characters with the same template then log those characters in and out to ensure they have their user data file in the shard folder.

4.   Double <left click> on the characters file who has the template, eg Character 1, and in the pop up window which appears, scroll down and open the file with 'notepad'. A notepad document will open with all the user data for your 'set up' character. In this notepad go to the top menu and select: 'File', 'Save As', and change the name from 'Character 1' to 'Template' and click 'save'. This will save a text document in your shard folder if you wish to keep a 'copy' for future use or it maybe saved to any other directory or deleted as you wish when you are finished. Leave this notepad document open to continue.

5.   To duplicate this template to Characters 2 and 3, double <left click> on firstly character 2, and open its file as you did above in step 4. You should now have 2 notepads open, one called 'Template' the other called 'Character 2'. Put your cursor in the notepad for 'Template' <right click> and 'select all', then <right click> again and select 'copy'.

6.   Now put your cursor in the notepad for 'Character 2', <right click> and 'select all', then <right click> again and select 'paste'. Still in the notepad for Character 2, go to the top menu and select: 'File', 'Save As'. In the save screen go to the drop down box that says 'save as type' change the 'text document' to 'all files'. You will see your character files and template file appear in the top box. Double click on the file for Character 2 and a prompt will open advising you the file already exists and do you wish to replace it. Select 'Yes'. This character is now complete.

7.   To duplicate the template for Character 3, and for as many other characters as you wish, follow steps 5 and 6. It is best to work with the one character file at a time until you are familiar with the process (i.e. just have one character notepad file and your notepad template open at the same time). Once you are familiar with the process you could just do it with all your characters by opening all character files you wish to use the template in and repeating just step 6 while the copied text from step 5 is still active on your clipboard.

Other Hints and Information

If you have already played for a while, and wish to do a 'restart' of all your character layouts to give them uniformity of layout and macros etc, then delete all your character files from the shard folder, log in to one character and set up their desktop as your 'template' character without any of that particular characters unique requirements which may be done later. Log in the rest of your characters to re-establish their user data files and proceed from step 2. (note deleting your user data files does NOT delete your characters, they are permanently stored by EA on their servers).

If you have a particularly good layout you are able to share this with friends and other players. Just send them the text file containing the template. You can also modify the template from generic style layouts to 'class' specific layouts (eg. generic layout + a good set of fishing hotbars). The possibilities are endless.

It is advisable to not assign any keys when creating your template as not all characters will require the same set up for actual game play, plus, if you do wish to 'share' a template with another player the keys you assign would not necessarily be the same. It is easier to assign the keys once you start customising the unique keys for your individual characters.

You are better off to put in a whole range of generic macros than just one or two (eg: action macro 'open door' or say macro 'all kill'). It is much easier to establish your character with more rather than less as a simple <right click> 'edit' 'clear' will remove any macro a character doesn't require. So when making your template think about all the common commands and actions you perform during general game play and try to include as many of them as you can in your template. Deleting them in the macro/actions commands is much easier than creating them, especially if you have to create them in 6 or more characters!

Remember that anything created in a template is not 'final' and once you have the basic layout you are still able to customise every single setting, add or remove hotbars, macros, reposition windows or take it back to a fresh start by just deleting the character file in your shard folder. Nothing is forever.

Having a template created of your favourite settings saved in your shard folder and/or another part of your hard drive ensures you always have a backup copy available to replace your settings in the event that your character becomes 'bugged' in any way or if you accidentally delete a hotbar or your macros. It is also there in case you open another account and wish to get a head start on your character creation or if you just wish to add another character to your existing account.

Sample Desktop and Template

The following is a sample desktop and the relevant template text that matches the layout as seen in Figure 3. It includes an explanation of what you are 'getting' with the template. This is just to give you an 'idea' of what is possible with creating templates and the benefits they may give you if you decide to have a go at creating one.

Figure 2: Background User Settings of Graphic


Figure 3: The Screen Layout of the Template (note 1/3rd actual size)

The desktop has been created with the user settings in Figure 2. The graphic above shows how your screen will appear when the template is 'loaded' to your character. (And no, the castle is not included in the template!)

Features of the Desktop:

  • The chat window is positioned so that all talk appears in the space between the lower fixed hotbar and the bottom of the chat window. Both system and chat tabs 'report' to the chat tab for both types of messages. As you talk your messages scroll up to the chat window.
  • Next to the chat window are 4 floating hotbars (x 12 box) to put in whatever you like, runebooks, weapons, spell icons etc.
  • To the right of that is your main backpack.
  • Above the backpack are another 4 floating hotbars (x 7 box). These contain the Macro's that are created on the template and will be automatically recreated in your new character.
  • Bar 1 Macros: undress, dress, target next enemy, next party, next friendly, peace and war (top).
  • Bar 2 Pet Macros: all stay, all follow me, all kill, stable, claim list, blank, bank/guards.
  • Bar 3: House Macros: I wish to release this, lock this, secure, place a trash barrel, open door, detect hidden, hide.
  • Bar 4 Emote Macros: *smiles*, bows, salutes, *hugs*, *kisses*, *waves*, *laughs*
  • Above this set of hotbars is where the character sheet will load when you double click the face on your health/buff bar. If you require your paperdoll open it will open to the left of the character sheet. Clicking the Character Sheet icon on the lower menu bar will open it, clicking again will close it.
  • To the left of the character sheet is another floating hotbar (x 12 box). There is a disarm both hand macro in the lower end of this.
  • The radar map opens to the left of this.
  • The character health and current target bars are in prominent positions at the top of the screen to monitor your health and the current target.

Obviously most characters will not require all these hotbars, they are included in the template in case they do. Some may be shortened or repositioned, others may just be deleted, depending on the character type and need. I positioned the macros shown for display purpose only, but they can be moved, cleared or left as they are which is up to the user. They still remain in the macro/action part of the main menu for later use if not deleted in that area. If you consider that there are 27 preset common use macros in this template to set them up on another 5 characters individually would take a lot of time and effort. Only the 'dress' macro requires editing to make it function, and is done so by adding your own armor/clothing into the equip items boxes from your paperdoll. Using the template as such means all that effort can be done with a copy and paste action. Hence the beauty of creating a generic template for your characters.

Template Text

The template text code to create this particular template is shown below. It may be copied and pasted direct from this page should you wish to experiment with the step by step instructions 1-7 (located above).

Good Luck with your template creating!

To download the template file, right click on the following link and select "save target as" or "save link as", and save it to your PC

Template Desktop File