Is there a simpler way to setup Weak Auras to show when an ability is off cooldown, how long the buff will last when it's activated, and the time remaining on the cooldown, without creating 3 separate icons?
If not, I guess I'll create 2 additional icons for each of my abilities. Just seemed like a lot to keep up with.
You can, but you end up babysitting a truckload of Lua. If you're the sort of person who already knows their way around the WoWAPI and can write some code when you need to: by all means do it. You'll need a custom trigger that watches combat_log_event_unfiltered and you'll need your own functions for time remaining, progress, colors, etc. You may have to track states yourself (ie: x is on internal cooldown and can't come up for y seconds) or there might be complex detection requirements (spirit shell is much harder to deal with than shield-wall or arcane power). If you don't mind babysitting a bunch of lua, then it's certainly possible: you'll need custom triggers/untriggers and all of the display related functions (progress, texts, and probably things like animation settings too -- though if cover progress properly they sometimes fall into place easily). You lose some functionality (ie: you can't set icons with code in weak auras) and actions (like /y, sounds, etc) can also become a lot more complicated.
If you're not already familiar with that sort of thing then it's a lot of work that would probably require a fair bit of hand-holding from somebody pretty comfortable with Lua and Wow. You don't really gain anything for the effort save for having a fewer number of icons in the aura list - which you can somewhat mitigate with groups and letting settings changes propagate to group members. You won't save an appreciable amount of memory and the 1-aura approach doesn't use any less CPU power. The only gain I can imagine is that dynamic groups and very complicated animation might be easier to setup (the sort of animation you'd have to write custom lua for).
If it was the sort of thing I could do once as a generic version that was easy to modify then I would have made it a tutorial. I haven't been able to dream up a good way to accomplish that but if somebody else can come up with one then I'd probably do it.
I really appreciate the response. I'm definitely not a coder so I believe the simplest route will be to make 2 more icons for each ability. I just wanted to check first and see if perhaps I was overlooking an easy solution.
Honestly making three separate auras for each and putting them into a group is by far the easier way of doing it. Once you have it done for one spell, you can just export the string and import it again, change the spell name and voilà! Same setup for all the spells.
You could; but it wouldn't track what he's looking to do very efficiently. If you did it that way when you used the ability the cooldown and duration of the buff would attempt to show up simultaneously unless you set the cooldown trigger to look at the combat log for when that aura is removed then continue counting down the duration of the cooldown (minus duration of the buff).
Though for a novice user setting something like that is a lot more complicated to set up. Plus if you wanted any animations or text colors for duration vs cooldown you wouldn't be able to do that. Doing it in three separate auras offers a lot more customization and really if you wanted you could just put the auras into one super group but would have to make sure they are ordered in the right way with the correct strata set so they didn't overlap and look weird.
Edit: when I get home I could post examples of both, but I think I got the point across.