Help:Menus

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There are two kings of menus:

Contents

Static menus

Static menus are build at Openbox startup based on content of xml files, paths to which specified in configuration file "rc.xml", and not changed at runtime. By default for all of the menus used file "menu.xml", located either at "~/.config/openbox" (user-specific directory) or at "/etc/xdg/openbox" (system-wide directory).

Syntax

A menu file must be entirely enclosed within "<openbox_menu>" and "</openbox_menu>" tags, such as:

<openbox_menu>
  ...menu stuff here...
</openbox_menu>

Inside these tags, menus are specified as follows:

<menu
  id="ID"
  label="TITLE"
  icon="ICON"
>

  <!-- this is a menu item, such as a program -->
  <item
    label="LABEL"
    icon="ICON"
  >
    ACTIONS
  </item>

  <!-- this is a menu header -->
  <separator
    label="Header"
  />

  <!-- this links to a sub menu -->
  <menu
    id="ID"
  />

  <!-- this is a horizontal line -->
  <separator />

  <!-- this also links to a sub menu, which is defined inline -->
  <menu
    id="ID"
    label="TITLE"
    icon="ICON"
  >
    <item
      label="LABEL"
      icon="ICON"
    >
      ACTIONS
    </item>
  </menu>

  <separator />

  <!-- this is a menu item -->
  <item
    label="LABEL"
    icon="ICON"
  >
    ACTIONS
  </item>

</menu>

The example above shows how to put entries into a menu (with "<item>" and "</item>" tags), and two methods to add submenus to a menu (with "<menu>" and "</menu>" tags). It also shows how to put menu headers and separators (with "<separator />" tag) into the menu to group items together without submenus.

(thumbnail)
Example of openbox menu

Value of attribute "id"

Each menu must be given an id, which is a unique identifier of the menu. This id is used to refer to the menu in a ShowMenu action.

Value if attribute "title"

The value of attribute title of the menu is shown, when you link to the menu as a submenu. The title will appear in its parent menu.

Value of attribute "label"

The value of attribute label of an "item" element is the visible name of the menu item. In the "separator" element, the label attribute transforms the separator from a small horizontal line to a menu header with the given text in it.

Specifying menu shortcuts

The first character in the label is used for a keyboard shortcut to directly use the menu item. This can be overridden by using the "_" character in front of the character, you wish to use for the shortcut. For example, "The _shortcut" would make "s" the shortcut key for this menu item. If you want a "_" character to appear in the string, you can use two underscores together, such as in "An __ underscore".

Value of attribute "icon"

The value of attribute icon is path to the image file. Image will be drawn left of menu item label or submenu label. Supported formats of images is the same, as formats, supported by libraries "Imlib2" (xpm, gif, jpeg, png) and "librsvg" (svg). Example:

<item
  label="Vim"
  icon="/usr/share/pixmaps/vim-32.xpm"
>
  <action
    name="Execute"
  >
    <execute>x-terminal-emulator -T Vim -e vim</execute>
  </action>
</item>

If user doesn't want to display icons in menus, he/she can disable icons inside "menu" element in "rc.xml" file:

<menu>
  ...
  <showIcons>no</showIcons>
  <!-- Default value is "yes". -->
  ...
</menu>

Actions

The ACTIONS are zero or more actions, which are executed in order, when you select the menu item. Typically, in menus, these are Execute actions, which run commands.

Dynamic menus

Dynamic menus are menus, what build at run time (on-the-fly) based on output of scripts. These are also called "pipe menus" since the script's output is piped to Openbox, and output used to build the menu. A number of scripts, used to generate dynamic menus, written by various people and available through the pipe menus page.

A dynamic menu can be created by placing the following code into a menu file, such as "menu.xml":

<menu
  id="ID"
  label="TITLE"
  execute="COMMAND"
/>

Thereafter the dynamic menu can be referenced by ID just like static menu.

Command

The COMMAND is the command to be executed by Openbox. Each time action ShowMenu executed Openbox will do the following steps:

  • run specified command;
  • read output of command;
  • parse output of command;
  • turned output into the menu;
  • show the menu on the screen.

The output of the script should be a xml, something like:

<openbox_pipe_menu>
  <item
    label="LABEL"
    icon="ICON"
  >
    ACTIONS
  </item>
</openbox_pipe_menu>

When writing your own scripts, make sure to escape xml special characters, such as "&" ("&amp;"), "<" ("&lt;"), ">" ("&gt;") and other (see more on Wikipedia).

The Debian menu

(thumbnail)
Example of Debian menu

Source installs or prepackaged .debs from openbox.org will not configure your setup to show the Debian menu. There are a few simple steps to get it working.

If you have already installed openbox with a working Debian menu

Add the following line to your "~/.config/openbox/menu.xml" file (if it isn't there, copy it from "/etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml" file):

 <menu id="/Debian" />

You should place the line, where you would like it to appear in the root menu. Location matters!

Add one of following lines to your "~/.config/openbox/rc.xml" file between the "<menu>" and "</menu>" tags, before the code "<file>menu.xml</file>":

 <file>/var/lib/openbox/debian-menu.xml</file>
 <file>debian-menu.xml</file>

The second line allows you to copy the "debian-menu.xml" file from "/var/lib/openbox" to your local "~/.config/openbox" directory, where it becomes static (command update-menus will not affect it). You can then edit it by hand and your changes will be permanent.

That's all you should have to do, though it's a good idea to run command update-menus (from package "menu") as root every now and then, if you don't have a cron job assigned. It refreshes the list of currently installed apps.

Then choose "reconfigure" on your root menu, and you should get a Debian submenu within the root menu.

If you haven't had a working debian menu

This is a little trickier, but no big deal.

Then there's this little humdinger: you'll need to get a copy of an executable script named "openbox" and copy it to "/etc/menu-methods" directory. The script actually creates the Debian menu, when you run "update-menus.

Method 1

The easiest way is to install Openbox from official debian repository using "apt", "aptitude", "synaptic" or other program. This will normally ensure, that you have all the packages required to create and use the Debian menu.

After installation copy the script (from "/etc/menu-methods" directory) in a known directory (your home directory will fine), then uninstall the official openbox (with "apt", "aptitude", "synaptic" or other).

Then, copy the script back to "/etc/menu-methods" directory and finally, issue the command update-menus as root.

Method 2

If you don't want to do that, download an official Openbox package (.deb) from debian.org, create a dummy directory in "/tmp" and type the command

 dpkg-deb -x /path/to/official-openbox.deb < /tmp/dummy_dir

This will unpack a mini-filesystem, that includes the script you need, in "/tmp/dummy_dir/etc/menu-methods" directory. Set its execution permissions, copy the script to "/etc" directory and issue the command update-menus as root. The latter command will create the file "/var/lib/openbox/debian-menu.xml".

To set the execution permissions type:

 chmod ug+x /tmp/dummy_dir/etc/openbox

The reason to create a dummy directory is that running the dpkg-deb -x command will change the ownership of the directory to root. These could become a bit of a problem later; putting it in a subdirectory of "/tmp" makes that issue, inoffensive.

Also, you should make sure you have the following packages installed before running update-menus:

  • menu;
  • menu-xdg.

Now follow the instructions, listed above.

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