Menus

Menus are the pull-down lists you're accustomed to seeing at the top of a window (or the entire display, if you're accustomed to seeing them on a Macintosh). Move the mouse cursor to the menu bar at the top, click on a name (e.g., File), and a list of selectable options pops up under the name you clicked (e.g., Open, Save). The options within a menu might trigger actions, much like clicking on a button; they may also open other "cascading" submenus that list more options, pop-up dialog windows, and so on. In Tkinter, there are two kinds of menus you can add to your scripts: top-level window menus and frame-based menus. The former option is better suited to whole windows, but the latter also works as a nested component.

8.2.1 Top-Level Window Menus

In more recent Python releases (using Tk 8.0 and beyond), you can associate a horizontal menu bar with a top-level window object (e.g., a Tk or Toplevel). On Windows and Unix (X Windows), this menu bar is displayed along the top of the window; on Macintosh, this menu replaces the one shown at the top of the screen when the window is selected. In other words, window menus look like you would expect on whatever underlying platform your script runs upon.

This scheme is based on building trees of Menu widget objects. Simply associate one top-level Menu with the window, add other pull-down Menu objects as cascades of the top-level Menu, and add entries to each of the pull-downs. Menus are cross-linked with the next higher level, by using parent widget arguments and the Menu widget's add_cascade method. It works like this:

  1. Create a topmost Menu as the child of the window widget, and configure the window's menu attribute to be the new Menu.
  2. For each pull-down, make a new Menu as the child of the topmost Menu, and add the child as a cascade of the topmost Menu using add_cascade.
  3. Add menu selections to each pull-down Menu from Step 2, using the command options of add_command to register selection callback handlers.
  4. Add a cascading submenu by making a new Menu as the child of the Menu the cascade extends, and using add_cascade to link parent to child.

The end result is a tree of Menu widgets with associated command callback handlers. This is all probably simpler in code than in words, though. Example 8-1 makes a main menu with two pull-downs, File and Edit; the Edit pull-down in turn has a nested submenu of its own.

Example 8-1. PP2EGuiTourmenu_win.py

# Tk8.0 style top-level window menus

from Tkinter import * # get widget classes
from tkMessageBox import * # get standard dialogs

def notdone(): 
 showerror('Not implemented', 'Not yet available') 

def makemenu(win):
 top = Menu(win) # win=top-level window
 win.config(menu=top) # set its menu option
 
 file = Menu(top)
 file.add_command(label='New...', command=notdone, underline=0)
 file.add_command(label='Open...', command=notdone, underline=0)
 file.add_command(label='Quit', command=win.quit, underline=0)
 top.add_cascade(label='File', menu=file, underline=0)

 edit = Menu(top, tearoff=0)
 edit.add_command(label='Cut', command=notdone, underline=0)
 edit.add_command(label='Paste', command=notdone, underline=0)
 edit.add_separator()
 top.add_cascade(label='Edit', menu=edit, underline=0)

 submenu = Menu(edit, tearoff=0)
 submenu.add_command(label='Spam', command=win.quit, underline=0)
 submenu.add_command(label='Eggs', command=notdone, underline=0)
 edit.add_cascade(label='Stuff', menu=submenu, underline=0)

if __name__ == '__main__':
 root = Tk() # or Toplevel()
 root.title('menu_win') # set window-mgr info
 makemenu(root) # associate a menu bar
 msg = Label(root, text='Window menu basics') # add something below 
 msg.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
 msg.config(relief=SUNKEN, width=40, height=7, bg='beige')
 root.mainloop()

There is a lot of code in this file devoted to setting callbacks and such, so it might help to isolate the bits involved with the menu tree building process. For the File menu, it's done like this:

top = Menu(win) # attach Menu to window
win.config(menu=top) # cross-link window to menu
file = Menu(top) # attach a Menu to top Menu
top.add_cascade(label='File', menu=file) # cross-link parent to child

Apart from building up the menu object tree, this script also demonstrates some of the most common menu configuration options:

Separator lines

The script makes a separator in the Edit menu with add_separator; it's just a line used to set off groups of related entries.

Tear-offs

The script also disables menu tear-offs in the Edit pull-down by passing a tearoff=0 widget option to Menu. Tear-offs are dashed lines that appear by default at the top of Tkinter menus, and create a new window containing the menu's contents when clicked. They can be a convenient shortcut device (you can click items in the tear-off window right away, without having to navigate through menu trees), but are not widely used on all platforms.

Keyboard shortcuts

The script uses the underline option to make a unique letter in a menu entry a keyboard shortcut. It gives the offset of the shortcut letter in the entry's label string. On Windows, for example, the Quit option in this script's File menu can be selected with the mouse as usual, but also by pressing the Alt key, then "f", then "q", You don't strictly have to use underline -- on Windows, the first letter of a pull-down name is a shortcut automatically, and arrow and Enter keys can be used to move through and select pull-down items. But explicit keys can enhance usability in large menus; for instance, the key sequence Alt+E+S+S runs the quit action in this script's nested submenu, without any mouse or arrow key movement.

Let's see what all this translates to in the realm of the pixel. Figure 8-1 shows the window that first appears when this script is run live on Windows; it looks different, but similar, on Unix and Macintosh.

Figure 8-1. menu_win: a top-level window menu bar

figs/ppy2_0801.gif

Figure 8-2 shows the scene when the File pull-down is selected. Notice that Menu widgets are linked, not packed (or gridded) -- the geometry manager doesn't really come into play here. If you run this script, you'll also notice that all of its menu entries either quit the program immediately or pop up a "Not Implemented" standard error dialog. This example is about menus, after all, but menu selection callback handlers generally do more useful work in practice.

Figure 8-2. The File menu pull-down

figs/ppy2_0802.gif

And finally, Figure 8-3 shows what happens after clicking the File menu's tear-off line and selecting the cascading submenu in the Edit pull-down. Cascades can be nested as deep as you like, but your users probably won't be happy if this gets silly.

Figure 8-3. A File tear-off and Edit cascade

figs/ppy2_0803.gif

In Tkinter, every top-level window can have a menu bar, including pop-ups that you create with the Toplevel widget. Example 8-2 makes three pop-up windows with the same menu bar as the one we just met; when run, it constructs the scene captured in Figure 8-4.

Example 8-2. PP2EGuiTourmenu_win-multi.py

from menu_win import makemenu
from Tkinter import *

root = Tk()
for i in range(3): # 3 popup windows with menus
 win = Toplevel(root)
 makemenu(win)
 Label(win, bg='black', height=5, width=15).pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
Button(root, text="Bye", command=root.quit).pack()
root.mainloop()

Figure 8-4. Multiple Toplevels with menus

figs/ppy2_0804.gif

8.2.2 Frame- and Menubutton-Based Menus

Although less commonly used for top-level windows, it's also possible to create a menu bar as a horizontal Frame. Before I show you how, though, let me explain why you should care. Because this frame-based scheme doesn't depend on top-level window protocols, it can also be used to add menus as nested components of larger displays. In other words, it's not just for top-level windows. For example, Chapter 9's PyEdit text editor can be used both as a program and an attachable component. We'll use window menus to implement PyEdit selections when it is run as a standalone program, but use frame-based menus when PyEdit is embedded in the PyMail and PyView displays. Both schemes are worth knowing.

Frame-based menus require a few more lines of code, but aren't much more complex than window menus. To make one, simply pack Menubutton widgets within a Frame container, associate Menu widgets with the Menubuttons, and associate the Frame with the top of a container window. Example 8-3 creates the same menu as Example 8-2, but using the frame-based approach.

Example 8-3. PP2EGuiTourmenu_frm.py

# Frame-based menus: for top-levels and components

from Tkinter import * # get widget classes
from tkMessageBox import * # get standard dialogs

def notdone(): 
 showerror('Not implemented', 'Not yet available') 

def makemenu(parent):
 menubar = Frame(parent) # relief=RAISED, bd=2...
 menubar.pack(side=TOP, fill=X)
 
 fbutton = Menubutton(menubar, text='File', underline=0)
 fbutton.pack(side=LEFT)
 file = Menu(fbutton)
 file.add_command(label='New...', command=notdone, underline=0)
 file.add_command(label='Open...', command=notdone, underline=0)
 file.add_command(label='Quit', command=parent.quit, underline=0)
 fbutton.config(menu=file)

 ebutton = Menubutton(menubar, text='Edit', underline=0)
 ebutton.pack(side=LEFT)
 edit = Menu(ebutton, tearoff=0)
 edit.add_command(label='Cut', command=notdone, underline=0)
 edit.add_command(label='Paste', command=notdone, underline=0)
 edit.add_separator()
 ebutton.config(menu=edit)

 submenu = Menu(edit, tearoff=0)
 submenu.add_command(label='Spam', command=parent.quit, underline=0)
 submenu.add_command(label='Eggs', command=notdone, underline=0)
 edit.add_cascade(label='Stuff', menu=submenu, underline=0)
 return menubar

if __name__ == '__main__':
 root = Tk() # or TopLevel or Frame
 root.title('menu_frm') # set window-mgr info
 makemenu(root) # associate a menu bar
 msg = Label(root, text='Frame menu basics') # add something below 
 msg.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
 msg.config(relief=SUNKEN, width=40, height=7, bg='beige')
 root.mainloop()

Again, let's isolate the linkage logic here to avoid getting distracted by other details. For the File menu case, here is what this boils down to:

menubar = Frame(parent) # make a Frame for the menubar
fbutton = Menubutton(menubar, text='File') # attach a MenuButton to Frame
file = Menu(fbutton) # attach a Menu to MenuButton
fbutton.config(menu=file) # crosslink button to menu

There is an extra Menubutton widget in this scheme, but it's not much more complex than making top-level window menus. Figures Figure 8-5 and Figure 8-6 show this script in action on Windows.

Figure 8-5. menu_frm: Frame and Menubutton menu bar

figs/ppy2_0805.gif

Figure 8-6. With the Edit menu selected

figs/ppy2_0806.gif

The menu widgets in this script provide a default set of event bindings that automatically pop up menus when selected with a mouse. This doesn't look or behave exactly like the top-level window menu scheme shown earlier, but it is close, can be configured in any way that frames can (i.e., with colors and borders), and will look similar on every platform (though this is probably not a feature).

The biggest advantage of frame-based menu bars, though, is that they can also be attached as nested components in larger displays. Example 8-4 and its resulting interface (Figure 8-7) show how.

Example 8-4. PP2EGuiTourmenu_frm-multi.py

from menu_frm import makemenu # can't use menu_win here--one window
from Tkinter import * # but can attach from menus to windows

root = Tk()
for i in range(2): # 2 menus nested in one window
 mnu = makemenu(root)
 mnu.config(bd=2, relief=RAISED)
 Label(root, bg='black', height=5, width=15).pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
Button(root, text="Bye", command=root.quit).pack()
root.mainloop()

Figure 8-7. Multiple Frame menus on one window

figs/ppy2_0807.gif

Because they are not tied to the enclosing window, frame-based menus can also be used as part of another attachable component's widget package. For example, the menu embedding behavior in Example 8-5 even works if the menu's parent is another Frame container, not the top-level window.

Example 8-5. PP2EGuiTourmenu_frm-multi2.py

from menu_frm import makemenu # can't use menu_win here--root=Frame
from Tkinter import * 

root = Tk()
for i in range(3): # 3 menus nested in the containers
 frm = Frame() 
 mnu = makemenu(frm)
 mnu.config(bd=2, relief=RAISED)
 frm.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
 Label(frm, bg='black', height=5, width=15).pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
Button(root, text="Bye", command=root.quit).pack()
root.mainloop()

8.2.2.1 Using Menubuttons and Optionmenus

In fact, menus based on Menubutton are even more general than Example 8-3 implies -- they can actually show up anywhere on a display that normal buttons can, not just within a menubar Frame. Example 8-6 makes a Menubutton pull-down list that simply shows up by itself, attached to the root window; Figure 8-8 shows the GUI it produces.

Example 8-6. PP2EGuiTourmbutton.py

from Tkinter import * 
root = Tk()
mbutton = Menubutton(root, text='Food') # the pull-down stands alone
picks = Menu(mbutton) 
mbutton.config(menu=picks) 
picks.add_command(label='spam', command=root.quit)
picks.add_command(label='eggs', command=root.quit)
picks.add_command(label='bacon', command=root.quit)
mbutton.pack()
mbutton.config(bg='white', bd=4, relief=RAISED)
root.mainloop()

Figure 8-8. A Menubutton all by itself

figs/ppy2_0808.gif

The related Tkinter Optionmenu widget displays an item selected from a pull-down menu. It's roughly like a Menubutton plus a display label, and displays a menu of choices when clicked; but you must link Tkinter variables (described in Chapter 7) to fetch the choice after the fact instead of registering callbacks, and menu entries are passed as arguments in the widget constructor call after the variable.

Example 8-7 illustrates typical Optionmenu usage, and builds the interface captured in Figure 8-9. Clicking on either of the first two buttons opens a pull-down menu of options; clicking on the third "state" button fetches and prints the current values displayed in the first two.

Example 8-7. PP2EGuiTouroptionmenu.py

from Tkinter import *
root = Tk()
var1 = StringVar()
var2 = StringVar()
opt1 = OptionMenu(root, var1, 'spam', 'eggs', 'toast') # like Menubutton
opt2 = OptionMenu(root, var2, 'ham', 'bacon', 'sausage') # but shows choice
opt1.pack(fill=X)
opt2.pack(fill=X)
var1.set('spam')
var2.set('ham')
def state(): print var1.get(), var2.get() # linked variables
Button(root, command=state, text='state').pack()
root.mainloop()

Figure 8-9. An Optionmenu at work

figs/ppy2_0809.gif

There are other menu-related topics that we'll skip here in the interest of space. For instance, scripts can add entries to system menus, and generate pop-up menus (posted in response to events, without an associated button). Refer to Tk and Tkinter resources for more details on this front.

In addition to simple selections and cascades, menus can also contain disabled entries, checkbutton and radiobutton selections, and bitmap and photo images. The next section demonstrates how some of these special menu entries are programmed.

8.2.3 Windows with Both Menus and Toolbars

Besides showing a menu at the top, it is common for windows to display a row of buttons at the bottom. This bottom button row is usually called a toolbar, and often contains shortcuts to items also available in the menus at the top. It's easy to add a toolbar to windows in Tkinter -- simply pack buttons (and other kinds of widgets) into a frame, pack the frame on the bottom of the window, and set it to expand horizontally only. This is really just hierarchical GUI layout at work again, but make sure to pack toolbars (and frame-based menu bars) early, so that other widgets in the middle of the display are clipped first when the window shrinks.

Example 8-8 shows one way to go about adding a toolbar to a window. It also demonstrates how to add photo images in menu entries (set the image attribute to PhotoImage object), and how to disable entries and give them a grayed-out appearance (call the menu entryconfig method with the index of the item to disable, starting from 1). Notice that PhotoImage objects are saved as a list; remember, unlike other widgets, these go away if you don't hold onto them.

Example 8-8. PP2EGuiTourmenuDemo.py

#!/usr/local/bin/python 
#########################################################################
# Tk8.0 style main window menus
# menu/tool bars packed before middle, fill=X (pack first=clip last);
# adds photos menu entries; see also: add_checkbutton, add_radiobutton
#########################################################################

from Tkinter import * # get widget classes
from tkMessageBox import * # get standard dialogs

class NewMenuDemo(Frame): # an extended frame
 def __init__(self, parent=None): # attach to top-level?
 Frame.__init__(self, parent) # do superclass init
 self.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)
 self.createWidgets() # attach frames/widgets
 self.master.title("Toolbars and Menus") # set window-manager info
 self.master.iconname("tkpython") # label when iconified

 def createWidgets(self):
 self.makeMenuBar()
 self.makeToolBar()
 L = Label(self, text='Menu and Toolbar Demo')
 L.config(relief=SUNKEN, width=40, height=10, bg='white')
 L.pack(expand=YES, fill=BOTH)

 def makeToolBar(self):
 toolbar = Frame(self, cursor='hand2', relief=SUNKEN, bd=2)
 toolbar.pack(side=BOTTOM, fill=X)
 Button(toolbar, text='Quit', command=self.quit ).pack(side=RIGHT)
 Button(toolbar, text='Hello', command=self.greeting).pack(side=LEFT)

 def makeMenuBar(self):
 self.menubar = Menu(self.master)
 self.master.config(menu=self.menubar) # master=top-level window
 self.fileMenu()
 self.editMenu()
 self.imageMenu()

 def fileMenu(self):
 pulldown = Menu(self.menubar)
 pulldown.add_command(label='Open...', command=self.notdone)
 pulldown.add_command(label='Quit', command=self.quit)
 self.menubar.add_cascade(label='File', underline=0, menu=pulldown)

 def editMenu(self):
 pulldown = Menu(self.menubar)
 pulldown.add_command(label='Paste', command=self.notdone)
 pulldown.add_command(label='Spam', command=self.greeting)
 pulldown.add_separator()
 pulldown.add_command(label='Delete', command=self.greeting)
 pulldown.entryconfig(4, state=DISABLED)
 self.menubar.add_cascade(label='Edit', underline=0, menu=pulldown)

 def imageMenu(self):
 photoFiles = ('guido.gif', 'pythonPowered.gif', 'ppython_sm_ad.gif') 
 pulldown = Menu(self.menubar)
 self.photoObjs = []
 for file in photoFiles:
 img = PhotoImage(file='../gifs/' + file)
 pulldown.add_command(image=img, command=self.notdone)
 self.photoObjs.append(img) # keep a reference
 self.menubar.add_cascade(label='Image', underline=0, menu=pulldown)

 def greeting(self): 
 showinfo('greeting', 'Greetings')
 def notdone(self): 
 showerror('Not implemented', 'Not yet available') 
 def quit(self):
 if askyesno('Verify quit', 'Are you sure you want to quit?'):
 Frame.quit(self)

if __name__ == '__main__': NewMenuDemo().mainloop() # if I'm run as a script

Figure 8-10. menuDemo: menus and toolbars

figs/ppy2_0810.gif

When run, this script generates the scene in Figure 8-10 at first. Figure 8-11 shows this window after being stretched a bit, with its File and Edit menus torn off, and its Image menu selected. That's Python creator Guido van Rossum in this script's third menu (wearing his now-deprecated eyeglasses). Run this on your own computer to get a better feel for its behavior.[1]

[1] Also note that toolbar items can be pictures too -- simply associate small images with toolbar buttons, as shown at the end of Chapter 7.

Figure 8-11. Images and tear-offs on the job

figs/ppy2_0811.gif

8.2.3.1 Automating menu construction

Menus are a powerful Tkinter interface device. If you're like me, though, the examples in this section probably seem like a lot of work. Menu construction can be both code-intensive and error-prone if done by calling Tkinter methods directly. A better approach might automatically build and link up menus from a higher-level description of their contents. In fact, we will -- in Chapter 9, we'll meet a tool called GuiMixin that automates the menu construction process, given a data structure that contains all menus desired. As an added bonus, it supports both window and frame-style menus, so it can be used by both standalone programs and nested components. Although it's important to know the underlying calls used to make menus, you don't necessarily have to remember them for long.

Introducing Python

Part I: System Interfaces

System Tools

Parallel System Tools

Larger System Examples I

Larger System Examples II

Part II: GUI Programming

Graphical User Interfaces

A Tkinter Tour, Part 1

A Tkinter Tour, Part 2

Larger GUI Examples

Part III: Internet Scripting

Network Scripting

Client-Side Scripting

Server-Side Scripting

Larger Web Site Examples I

Larger Web Site Examples II

Advanced Internet Topics

Part IV: Assorted Topics

Databases and Persistence

Data Structures

Text and Language

Part V: Integration

Extending Python

Embedding Python

VI: The End

Conclusion Python and the Development Cycle

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Programming Python
Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, 3rd Edition
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Year: 2000
Pages: 245
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