Updated 2018-10-01 19:37:55 by bll

flexmenu edit

Last update: 2018-9-29

Source: https://gentoo.com/tcl/flexmenu.tcl (version 1.11)

Sourceforge: https://sourceforge.net/projects/tcl-flexmenu/

bll 2018-9-20: An alternative menu system.

2018-9-21: There seems to be a little interest in this. I wrote it for a couple of rather minor reasons (one of which I'm not sure is valid). Though I do really like having real checkbuttons and radiobuttons in the menu, and I like the -keepopen option. I have not tried using it in my production code as yet.

bll 2018-9-22: Well, sorry about messing up version 1.2. I forgot to protect the mac os x only code. I have added the project to sourceforge, so feel free to open tickets for this project.

 Version History

   1.11 2018-10-1
       Fix mistake.
   1.10 2018-10-1
       Rewrite styling and active state handling (pass 1).
       Some option cleanup.
   1.9 2018-10-1
       Fix incorrect default for -borderwidth.
       Fix bad copy/paste in enterLeaveHandler.
       Fix column spans with -hidemargin.
       Fix non-global grab.
       Fix enter/leave handling.
       Fix press handler/menu.enter/grab.
       Fix column weighting with -hidemargin.
   1.8 2018-10-1
       Fix crash when window closed.
   1.7 2018-10-1
       Remove tailcall.
       Rewrite grab handling.
       Rewrite enter/leave handling.
       Fix invoke of item when -keepopen is false.
   1.6 2018-9-30
       Set menu colors from the current theme.
       Fix -font handling.
       Fix menus not closing on checkbutton select.
       Button press will activate the menu and item.
   1.5 2018-9-30
       Fixed -borderwidth and -relief options for items.
       Added -mode {toplevel|frame} option.
       Cleaned up some stacking order issues
         (fixes the activeframe covering menu items).
   1.4 2018-9-29
       Added -precommand for cascades.
       Added -yalign for cascades.
       Added -xalign for cascades.
       Fixed bug in entrycget.
       Fixed 'delete' operation to match 'menu'.
       Fixed bug where the width was lost on a redisplay.
       Fixed display when initial number of items did not exceed -maxheight.
       Fixed various bugs with empty menus.
   1.3 2018-9-22
       Fixed initialization to only execute on mac os x.
       Fixed incorrect state for menus after invoking an item.
       Brought state table documentation up to date.
   1.2 2018-9-21  (broken for non mac os x)
       Fixed -padx/-pady so they will work for the main menubar
       Set the -acceleratorprefix to \u2318 for Mac OS X.
         This is converted to 'Meta' (hope that's right).
       Changed default -acceleratorprefix to 'Alt-' (due to mac os x changes).
       Fixed the colors on mac os x.  Dark mode and graphite themes
         are supported.
   1.1 2018-9-20
       Fixed active highlight for scrolled menus
   1.0 2018-9-20
       initial release


Does not work with .toplevel configure -menu .mymenu. Tk uses the internal menu API to attach menus. flexmenu cannot work with the -menu option.

Must use pack or grid (or place) to attach the menu. Converting an existing program to use flexmenu could be quite painful.

The main menu must be created with either -type menubar or -type menuleft.

It has not been tested much.


  • Checkbuttons and Radiobuttons are ttk widgets.
  • Supports left side menus (-type menuleft).
  • Scrolling menus (-maxheight).
  • Configure -columnbreak <value> at the menu level to automatically break every <value> items.
  • -keepopen option will leave the menu open after invoking an item.
  • -acceleratorfont, -acceleratorforeground and -acceleratoractiveforeground options.
  • -activerelief option.
  • -hidearrows option.
  • -hideaccelerators option.
  • -acceleratorprefix option to set the default accelerator prefix.
  • -padx, -pady options to change the padding for menu items.
  • Uses ttk widgets where possible.
  • Is a little more dynamic than the standard menu. Many things can be reconfigured and the changes will be picked up.

Item Features:

  • Any widget can be put into the menu (.mymenu add widget -widget .mymenu.mycombobox).
  • Margin images (-marginimage). It is quite common nowadays to use small icons on the left margin of the menu as an aid for the user.
  • Accelerator labels are automatically generated based on either an & prefix in the label, the -underline option, or the -accelerator option.
  • Accelerator bindings are automatically generated.
  • Cascades: -yalign, -xalign options to change cascade alignment.
  • Cascades: -precommand option. Useful for dynamic menu generation.


Ignored: -bitmap, -tearoff, -tearoffcommand, -title, -selectcolor.

-hidemargin works properly on a per-entry basis. menu seems to treat it as a menu option even though it is specified per entry. I think -hidemargin would be better off as a menu option rather than an item option, but backwards compatibility is an issue.


May be overeager in generating accelerator labels. The user may not want accelerator labels displayed for every item.

Has not been tested much.

At this time, flexmenu does not check to see if the entire menu is visible, and does not do any relocation of the menu.

Known Issues:

Fixed in 1.1: Active item highlighting for scrolling menus is not working right.

Fixed in 1.2: The accelerator key prefix is set to Alt. This needs to be set correctly for Mac OS X, but I do not recall which meta key the Mac sends.

The clone command has only a very basic implementation.

Flicker with -selectimage. Currently, the menu layout is reapplied when a -image is changed to a -selectimage. This is just in case the -selectimage is a different size. If the assumption can be made that the image sizes are identical, this redraw could be removed.


 Example 1

package require Tk
source flexmenu.tcl

# standard checkbutton widgets
# -keepopen set
flexmenu .mcb -keepopen true
.mcb add checkbutton -variable ::x -text Check -onvalue 0 -offvalue 1 \
    -accelerator Ctrl-4
.mcb add checkbutton -variable ::x -text Check -onvalue 0 -offvalue 1 \
    -accelerator Ctrl-5 -indicatoron false
.mcb add checkbutton -variable ::x -text Check -onvalue 0 -offvalue 1 \
    -state disabled

# standard radiobutton widgets
flexmenu .mrb -keepopen true
.mrb add radiobutton -variable ::x -value 0 -text Radio-0 \
    -accelerator Ctrl-2
.mrb add radiobutton -variable ::x -value 1 -text Radio-1 \
    -accelerator Ctrl-3
.mrb add radiobutton -variable ::x -value 2 -text Radio-2 \
    -accelerator Ctrl-4 -state disabled

# automatic column break every fifth item.
# frame widgets in the menu
set clist {#000000 #ff0000 #00ff00 #0000ff #ff8000 #ff0080 #80ff00
    #00ff80 #8000ff #0080ff #ffff00 #ff00ff #00ffff #ffff80 #ff80ff
    #80ffff #ffffff #ff4040 #40ff40 #4040ff #404040 #808080 #ffff40
    #ff40ff #40ffff}
set col [flexmenu .col -columnbreak 5]
set count 0
foreach {c} $clist {
  set tf [frame .col.x$c \
      -background $c -relief raised -borderwidth 2 \
      -width 20 -height 20 ]
  .col add widget -widget $tf -hidemargin 1
  incr count

# scrolling menu
# frame widgets in the menu
set clist {#000000 #ff0000 #00ff00 #0000ff #ff8000 #ff0080 #80ff00
    #00ff80 #8000ff #0080ff #ffff00 #ff00ff #00ffff #ffff80 #ff80ff
    #80ffff #ffffff #ff4040 #40ff40 #4040ff #404040 #808080 #ffff40
    #ff40ff #40ffff}
set colsc [flexmenu .colsc -keepopen true -maxheight 5]
foreach {c} $clist {
  set tf [frame .colsc.bbb$c \
      -background $c -relief raised -borderwidth 2 \
      -width 20 -height 20 ]
  .colsc add widget -widget $tf -hidemargin 1

# combobox widget
flexmenu .mw 
ttk::combobox .mw.cb -values {aa bb cc dd ee ff gg} \
    -textvariable ::y -state readonly -width 5
.mw add widget -widget .mw.cb

# main cascade
flexmenu .m
.m add cascade -menu .col -label {Colors}
.m add cascade -menu .colsc -label {Scrolling Colors}
.m add cascade -menu .mcb -label {Check Buttons}
.m add cascade -menu .mrb -label {Radio Buttons}
.m add cascade -menu .mw -label {Widgets}
.m add command -label E&xit -command exit

flexmenu .mtop -type menubar
.mtop add cascade -label Test -menu .m
.mtop add command -label E&xit -command exit
pack .mtop -side top -fill x -expand 1 -anchor nw
frame .f -width 200 -height 200 
pack .f

 Example 2


# This has not been tested on windows.

package require Tk
source flexmenu.tcl
set ::lsortcmd [list ::lsort]
try {
  package require collate
  set ::lsortcmd [list ::lsort -command collate]
} on error {err res} {

variable vars

proc attachmenu { pm dir } {
  if { [catch {$pm entrycget active -menu}] } {
    set m [mkmenu $dir]
    $pm entryconfigure active -menu $m
  } else {
    set m [$pm entrycget active -menu]
    refreshmenu $m $dir

proc refreshmenu { nm dir } {
  variable vars

  set flist {}
  set tm [clock milliseconds]
  if { ! [info exists vars(cache.$dir)] ||
      ($tm - $vars(cache.ts.$dir)) > 1000 } {
    try {
      set flist [{*}$::lsortcmd [glob -directory $dir -tails *]]
    } on error {err res} {
puts "no files: $dir"
    set vars(cache.$dir) $flist
    set vars(cache.ts.$dir) [clock milliseconds]

    $nm delete 0 end

    foreach {f} $flist {
      set ff [file join $dir $f]
      if { [file isdirectory $ff] } {
        $nm add cascade \
            -label $f \
            -yalign menutop \
            -precommand [list ::attachmenu $nm $ff]
      } else {
        $nm add command -label $f

proc mkmenu { dir args } {
  variable vars

  set nm [flexmenu .m$vars(menu.counter) \
      -keepopen true \
      -padx 4p \
      -pady 4p \
      -maxheight 10 \
  refreshmenu $nm $dir
  set vars(dir.$nm) $dir
  incr vars(menu.counter)
  return $nm

proc main { } {
  variable vars

  set dir [lindex $::argv 0]
  if { $dir eq {} } {
    set dir /
  set vars(menu.counter) 1

  set mm [mkmenu $dir -type menuleft]
  $mm configure
  grid $mm -sticky nw
  grid rowconfigure . 0 -weight 1
  grid columnconfigure . 0 -weight 1

  ttk::frame .f -width 400 -height 300
  grid .f -sticky se -row 0 -column 1
  lower .f
  . configure -background [ttk::style lookup . -background]