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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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29.15 Pop-Up Menus

When using a window system, a Lisp program can pop up a menu so that the user can choose an alternative with the mouse.

Function: x-popup-menu position menu
This function displays a pop-up menu and returns an indication of what selection the user makes.

The argument position specifies where on the screen to put the menu. It can be either a mouse button event (which says to put the menu where the user actuated the button) or a list of this form:

((xoffset yoffset) window)

where xoffset and yoffset are coordinates, measured in pixels, counting from the top left corner of window's frame.

If position is t, it means to use the current mouse position. If position is nil, it means to precompute the key binding equivalents for the keymaps specified in menu, without actually displaying or popping up the menu.

The argument menu says what to display in the menu. It can be a keymap or a list of keymaps (see section 22.12 Menu Keymaps). Alternatively, it can have the following form:

(title pane1 pane2...)

where each pane is a list of form

(title (line . item)...)

Each line should be a string, and each item should be the value to return if that line is chosen.

Usage note: Don't use x-popup-menu to display a menu if you could do the job with a prefix key defined with a menu keymap. If you use a menu keymap to implement a menu, C-h c and C-h a can see the individual items in that menu and provide help for them. If instead you implement the menu by defining a command that calls x-popup-menu, the help facilities cannot know what happens inside that command, so they cannot give any help for the menu's items.

The menu bar mechanism, which lets you switch between submenus by moving the mouse, cannot look within the definition of a command to see that it calls x-popup-menu. Therefore, if you try to implement a submenu using x-popup-menu, it cannot work with the menu bar in an integrated fashion. This is why all menu bar submenus are implemented with menu keymaps within the parent menu, and never with x-popup-menu. See section 22.12.5 The Menu Bar,

If you want a menu bar submenu to have contents that vary, you should still use a menu keymap to implement it. To make the contents vary, add a hook function to menu-bar-update-hook to update the contents of the menu keymap as necessary.

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