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FrameXML is the Blizzard name for the main set of Lua and XML based UI code found in the game archives and folders, used when playing the game. FrameXML is also a name often used for the Blizzard UI XML used to define UI frames.

FrameXML, the format, defines UI constructs and Frames using regular XML files. FrameXML is used to create most of the standard World of Warcraft User Interface. It is used for both the default WoW UI, and for WoW AddOns including user AddOns.


FrameXML can often refer to:

  • The XML based UI definition language and facilities used in WoW
  • The actual 'FrameXML' folder and .toc file in the WoW game folders

WoW UI customization is divided here as follows, starting at the highest level:

  • XML UI - The WoW FrameXML facility, language, existing constructs and folders. Includes documentation for inheriting from predefined 'Widgets'.
  • Widget API - The Lua-only 'UI Frame' API and counterpart to FrameXML. Includes documentations for interacting from Lua with the pre-defined Blizzard 'Widgets', which are defined in both XML and Lua in the Blizzard FrameXML folders.
  • World of Warcraft API - The core WoW UI API exposed to Lua code
  • WoW Lua - The WoW customized flavor of Lua

Here in these documents, the term XML UI is often used to refer all of the FrameXML UI based APIs, facilities, and the Blizzard and user XML based UI file and code.


Blizzard uses XML to define nearly all of their actual UI frame elements and facilities for the WoW UI. One of the historical reasons for this is that using XML avoids having to generate Lua side 'objects' or representations of elements for every single object, table, and string, that were already defined on the 'C' side and were part of the actual render and event paths. The XML could be read and discarded, and only generating the Lua side constructs necessary for running the UI.

The UIOBJECT API has grown over time to support more of the same facilites as XML loader, and now has near parity with the native XML loading. There is still a siginificant savings for the default UIs to load using the XML loader. However for AddOns following best pratices, the difference can be insignificant. Many veteran AddOn developers prefer using only the UIOBJECT APi.

Historically, the UIOBJECT API was documented in the 'Widget API', as everything that was considered 'Frame' or default UI related was lumped together. The FrameXML documentation itself is now more clearly seperated from the Lua side UIOBJECT API documentation, in order to provide more clarity and special needs for documenting XML style UI definition constructs. Base 'WoW Addon' documentation is also now provided.

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