tekKompare and ratingbuster work just fine on the PTR.
Though the fact that one can iterate all items for a slot through an API call means that one could write tooltip comparison for multiple items more easily (i.e. not needing some possession storage tables).
For example you could have [item] [equip1] [optequip2] [notequipset1] .. [notequipsetn] and get comparison against all items that you have in current use. Filters can limit the size. I'm not sure yet if there is a way to do this and keep it compatible with addons that used to assume that item comparisons never have more than 2 comparables (2 equip slots from rings/trinkets).
If blizz would make itemtip:SetHyperlinkCompareItem(link, n) behave that way and expand the index n that be best... maybe that's a way to do this via hooking but that certainly is a way to code this up that retains compatibility with most tooltip addons out there.
An alternative solution that is easier to do is to key-modify where the equip comparison takes its items from. e.g. alt for first set, alt-shift for second set etc.
I think the gear manager looks pretty much good. It is kind of akin to itemrack just on the default paperdoll frame.
When I logged onto the PTR for the first time the flyout frames worked without pressing Alt (just mouseover). But later that stopped working like that. Maybe they are still experimenting with the way they want that interaction and hence also haven't finalized the tooltips.
Now I just want an addon that that a stat comparison in a single tooltip for all items in the flyout to speed up the judgement which one should actually go into a set. With GetInventoryItemsForSlot() we'll be able got get the items to compare quickly which is nice.
While i can see the value of buffing the off specs to do the job they where intended to do as well as the pure classes, it however blurs that line of knowing that you have a specific place in the raid. It just complicates things, and complication usualy is lost on a good number of players
While I get the fear, really the problem here isn't dual spec, it's trust in your players. In my RG I can guarantee you that people cannot just go "oh I'm dual spec now so I demand to be DPS".
If you have a raid group of 25 people who think they can individually decide what happens and have their specific wills met you have a problem and you have a problem pretty much independent of what the game puts in front of you.
The right answer to this is simply to hire more mature players. It will help you in all areas of raiding whether it's loot distribution, destinations, doing what it takes etc.
And it has nothing to do with hardcore vs casual.
Very few people will have equivalent gear for both specs either, so if you do not already have the notion of a main spec and an off-spec it may be worth introducing it. But really lots of raid groups who tried to have composition flexibility had that for a long while and won't be phased by dual-spec at all. For those it really just means that instead of HS+respec+waiting for reglyph+waiting for action bar setup+lock summon is replaced with tome+dualspec.
The rest of the difference is social and blizz cannot really design that. And it's the type of social problem that a lot of raid groups have long solved.
I.e. if an individual player's desire with respect to how to use dual-spec goes ahead of how to have a raid group function, then you have a problem with that player, not with dual-spec. It's no different than that player respeccing for every raid day now and demanding that he can play in whatever spec he happened to choose. I don't see dual spec changing anything there. Yes that player doesn't "know his place" but he doesn't know it regardless. I would put it differently and say that he puts himself ahead of the group but I think in terms of content it's roughly the same.
I'm not saying it's not nice, but I do believe that it will hardly help because sheer numbers are the problem at least on my, fairly full, server. If you got too few people who want to go an instance - whether they are dual specced or single specced doesn't matter really.
As a ret pally, in ret gear, I was able to (bearly) heal DTK with an 80 tank in ~naxx10 gear and 2 80 DPS's (which did about on par with our 75 DPS, pathetic eh?). Had the whole group been my level, I wouldn't have been able to heal in that gear, and I don't know if my green quest reward healy set would have given me enough mana and +heal to have healed it.
Gear makes a huge difference. My ret pala is currently 75 and has +4 int and +0 sp on his gear. If I collected caster gear I'd have more than twice the mana pool, easily +1000sp plus other side goodies, such as mp5 and haste. That's massively different.
Yeah a dps specced hybrid healer in physical DPS kit is kinda much, but that wasn't really what I was referring to.
It's kind of offtopic, but while leveling except for some instances like SM (which twinks seem to run) it's literally impossible to get 5 people to go.
I play lots of alts and I can tell you that in some zones while leveling you are literally alone there. Even if your /who does show 5 people in appropriate level range, the chance that all of them actually want to go to the instance when you can is really low.
The only runs I see happening in some sort of stable fashion are from guilds who level alts in sync and then do guild runs. I think a fresh player would be hard pressed to experience leveling instance anywhere to the way most of us who started playing within a year of launch.
That's really a function of population density and effort required to form groups, and I don't see dual spec really making a big dent there should it be available. If it is available but costs even a fraction 5k gold it won't be that great for fresh players either.
On dual spec for instances while leveling. Really at least in WotLK there is no leveling instance that requires main specs. In fact I wouldn't be afraid to have a pet or mail wearer tank and have a caster off-spec heal (moonkin, elemental shaman, shadow priest). It works fine. Leveling instances before were less like that but those suffer from population count starvation mostly...
I do think dual spec would be nice for pvp vs pve even when leveling but I do think it does have most of it's impact at level cap where there are many roles to fill and a large pool of people looking to fo group content that require specific roles. In fact an argument can be made that pure DPS classes have it best because with a pvp and a pve spec they basically cover all content. A raid healer/tank may want a solo pve/raid dps and a pvp spec and will have to choose.