There is a bit of a semantics problem with using the term “dps” in the context of WoW. Literally, it stands for “damage per second.” It has long been a measurement of effectiveness among the classes and specs which focus on dealing damage to the enemy (rather than healing damage taken or taking the damage the enemy deals)…the higher the amount of damage per second you can do, the better you are at the game (at least among those who place value in such things).
You can use the term dps to refer to a few things in the game. For instance, “I did 9k dps” means “I did 9 thousand damage per second.” However, if you say “a dps character/player/toon” or just “a dps,” you’re referring to a character whose role in a group is to deal damage. There’s ranged dps and melee dps and even tank or healer dps. “The dps” tends to refer to all of your damage-dealing party members as a whole. In addition, you can instruct your group to start or stop dps, which basically means to start or stop attacking. Burst dps is that which is intended to be a lot over a small period of time, and generally refers to player vs. player content due to the unexpected nature of it, usually because of critical strikes or the short-term damage-boosting abilities many classes possess. This is contrasted with sustained dps, which is generally more favored in player vs. environment content*, where your target is likely to be alive for a long time (boss monsters in WoW currently have millions of health points, and most player abilities, even when dealing critical strikes (which are double damage hits), currently at level 85 are doing ten to twenty thousand damage each)).
*This may have changed with the huge increase of player health totals. Where at level 80 you probably had 20-30k health, you probably have 90-100k at level 85. Sustained dps is likely far more valuable in player vs. player content as a result (not that it was useless before, but burst was still very handy).
In my last post, I used the phrase “dps problem.” I was talking about how our heroic groups were wiping not because of a problem with healing, but because of an issue with the dps (or tank (me, in those cases)). Where the new DPS race is a race to deplete the monster’s health before the healer runs out of mana, not only do your damage-dealing party members need to do a lot of damage, but they need to do what they can to take less damage themselves and help others in the group do the same.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but if your group is having trouble with a boss in a dungeon (heroic or raid), look to a few things:
1) First, Blizzard has placed A LOT of importance on ensuring that you avoid damage where possible. There are a lot of effects which cause players to take damage if stood in. The safest way to not take damage in Cataclysm is to move out of anything that changes the color of the floor on which you’re standing (with a few exceptions!). An old (by WoW’s standards, anyway) adage: “Don’t stand in the fire!”
1a) If your class has a way to take less damage in general, use it when appropriate! (Cloak of Shadows, Feint, Shamanistic Rage, Divine Protection, Dispersion, etc.)
2) Crowd control is of great importance now as well. Reducing the number of monsters you have to fight at one time will greatly help your tank and healer.
3) Many monsters cast spells which do a significant amount of damage, or heal them for large amounts. These can be stopped by many classes, and is the best way for those classes without useful crowd control to help their groups.
So in addition to doing enough damage to beat the healer’s mana bar to zero, you can do a number of things to help the healer’s mana bar not fall as quickly! Use those abilities!