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Radical menu system for AwesomeWM


Warning If you use Awesome git master, please use the awesome3.6 branch

This is Radical, one of the largest Awesome extension module. It provide un unified interface to generate multiple types of menus.

Too many menus


December 2016

This module master branch is now for Awesome 4.0+. If you use Awesome 3.5, please use the awesome3.5 branch.


Installing Radical is simple, just move to ~/.config/awesome and clone the repository

cd ~/.config/awesome
git clone

The require it at the top of your rc.lua:

    local radical = require("radical")


Unlike, radical act like other Awesome 3.5 layouts. You need to add items one by one. This have the benefit of letting you interact with the items themselves programatically.

The most simple kind of menus, contexts one, can be created like this:

    local menu = radical.context{}
    menu:add_item {text="Screen 1",button1=function(_menu,item,mods) print("Hello World! ") end}
    menu:add_item {text="Screen 9",icon= beautiful.awesome_icon}
    menu:add_item {text="Sub Menu",sub_menu = function()
        local smenu = radical.context{}
        smenu:add_item{text="item 1"}
        smenu:add_item{text="item 2"}
        return smenu
    -- To add the menu to a widget:
    local mytextbox = wibox.widget.textbox()
    mytextbox:set_menu(menu, "button::pressed", 3) -- 3 = right mouse button, 1 = left mouse button
    -- To add a key binding on a "box" menu (and every other types)

In this example, a simple 3 item menu is created with a dynamically generated submenu. Please note that generating submenus using function will generate it every time it is being shown. For static menus, it is faster to simply create them once and passing the submenu object to the "sub_menu" item property.

:set_menu can also take a lazy-loading function instead of a menu. The second and third parameters are not mandatory, the defaults are "button::pressed" and 1, respectively.

:add_key_binding will add a key binding. It can also take a function as 3rd parameter. However, it wont correctly place "context" menu as it have no idea where you expect them. It work better with "box" menus.

Menu types

The current valid types are:

  • Context: Regular context menu
  • Box: Centered menus (think Windows alt-tab menu)
  • Embed: Menus in menus. This can be used as subsections in large menus
  • Bar: A compact horizontal wibox widget
  • Flexbar: An extensible horizontal wibox widget
  • Dock: OS X like dock with auto hiding and rectangular items

Menu style

Each menus come in various styles for various applications. New style can also be created by beautiful themes. The current ones are:

  • Arrow: Gnome3 and Mac OSX like menus with border radius and an arrow
  • Classic: Replicate look

Arrow also have a few types:

  • radical.base.arrow_type.NONE
  • radical.base.arrow_type.PRETTY
  • radical.base.arrow_type.CENTERED

Note that both menu and items have a margins property to ajust details:

    my_menu.margins.left = 12
    local item = my_menu:add_item {test="Need room"} = 3

Item style

Like menus, items can have their own style. Valid values:

  • Basic: The most simple kind of items, no borders or special shape
  • Classic: 1px border at the end of each items
  • Rounded: A 3px border radius at each corner
  • Arrow_alt: "Powerline" arrow with alternating colors
  • Arrow_prefix: The item prefix are "Powerlined"
  • Arrow_single: The item start with a < and end with a >

Menu layouts

On top of each styles, menu can also have different layouts to display items:

  • Vertical: Items are displayed on top of each other
  • Horizontal: Items are displayed alongside each other
  • Grid: Items are displayed as a 2D array

Item layout

Item layouts are how widgets (icons, label, prefix) are disposed in the item

  • horizontal: Default layout used by the context style
  • icon: Look like a desktop icon, used by horizontal menus
  • centerred: Align widgets at the center instead of using all space

Using styles and layouts

    local radical = require("radical")
    local m = radical.context {
        style      =      ,
        item_style = ,
        layout     = radical.layout.vertical    }


Radical also have its own styled tooltip widget. It can be used in menus, but also in every widgets using the set_tooltip method:

local mytextbox = wibox.widget.textbox()
mytextbox:set_tooltip("foo bar")


Radical offer a (very, very) wide range of options to allow the creation of rich and novel menus. The options are available in 2 formats: menu wide and item specific. Menu wide options will take effect on all items and on the way the menu itself is being displayed while items ones apply only to a specific item. Multiple items can have multiple sets of options.

Menu options

Name Description Type
bg_header Header (see widgets section) color String/gradient/pattern
bg_prefix Prefix background for item_styles that support it String/gradient/pattern
border_color Border color String/gradient/pattern
item_border_color Alternative border color for item separation String/gradient/pattern
border_width Border width number
item_height Default height of items number
item_width Default width of items number
width Original width number
default_width Default menu width number
icon_size Icon size number
auto_resize Resize menu if items are too large boolean
parent_geometry Set the menu parent geometry array
arrow_type Set the arrow type when use arrow style see "arrow_type" enum
visible Show or hide the menu boolean
direction The direction from which the arrow will point "left","right","top","bottom"
row Number of row (in grid layout) number
column Number of columns (in grid layout) number
layout The menu layout (default:vertical) see "Menu layouts" section
style The menu style (default:arrow) see "Menu style"
item_style The item style (default:basic) see "Item style"
filter Filter the menu when the user type boolean
show_filter Show a filter widget at the bottom boolean
filter_string Default filter string string
fkeys_prefix Display F1-F12 indicators for easy navigation boolean
filter_prefix Text to be shown at begenning of the filter string string
max_items Maximum number of items before showing scrollbar number
enable_keyboard Enable or disable keyboard navigation / hooks boolean
disable_markup Disable pango markup in items text boolean
x X position (absolute) number
y Y position (absolute) number
sub_menu_on Show submenu on selection or when clicking see "event" enum
select_on The event used to trigger item selection see "event" enum
overlay A layer on top of the item function(data,item,cr,w,h)
opacity Make this menu translucent (require a compositor) number (0 to 1)
icon_transformation Hijack the icon drawing function function(icon,data,item)
icon_per_state Call icon_transformation when state change boolean
disable_submenu_icon Do not show the submenu icon (arrow) boolean
margins Read/Write table (left,right,top and bottom) dynamic table
visible_row_count Number of visible items -(#max-(#total-#filtered)) number
default_item_margins Default margins for items ({left=1,right=1...}) array of direction
default_margins Default margins for the menu ({left=1,right=1...}) array of direction

Item options

Name Description Type
text The item text string
height The item height number
icon The item icon string or pattern
sub_menu Add a submenu to this item menu or function
selected Select this item boolean
checkable Is the item dual state (a checkbox) boolean
checked Is the item checked or not boolean
prefix_widget Widget to append at the begenning of the item widget
suffix_widget Widget to append at the end of the item widget
style Custom item_style for this item item_style
layout Custom item_layout for this item item_layout
tooltip A tooltip shown on the side or bottom string
button1 Left mouse button action function
button2 Mid mouse button action function
button3 Right mouse button action function
button4 Scroll up action function
button5 Scroll down action function
overlay See menu.overlay function
margins Read/Write table (left,right,top and bottom) dynamic table
infoshapes See the infoshapes widget documentation array of infoshapes
overlay_draw Draw a custom painter on top of the item draw function
font Set a custom font font_string

Colors options

The colors option are available for both menus and items objects.

Name State Description
bg --- Default background
fg --- Default foreground
bg_disabled theme.state.DISABLED The item cannot be interracted with
fg_disabled theme.state.DISABLED The item cannot be interracted with
bg_urgent theme.state.URGENT The item request immediate attention
fg_urgent theme.state.URGENT The item request immediate attention
bg_focus theme.state.SELECTED Focussed / Selected items
fg_focus theme.state.SELECTED Focussed / Selected items
bg_pressed theme.state.PRESSED The item is being pressed
fg_pressed theme.state.PRESSED The item is being pressed
bg_hover theme.state.HOVERED The mouse is over the item
fg_hover theme.state.HOVERED The mouse is over the item
bg_changed theme.state.CHANGED The item recently changed
fg_changed theme.state.CHANGED The item recently changed
bg_used theme.state.USED The item is used
fg_used theme.state.USED The item is used
bg_checked theme.state.CHECKED The item is checked
fg_checked theme.state.CHECKED The item is checked
bg_alternate theme.state.ALTERNATE Alternative to bg
fg_alternate theme.state.ALTERNATE Alternative to fg
bg_highlight theme.state.HIGHLIGHT The item is hightlighted
fg_highlight theme.state.HIGHLIGHT The item is hightlighted

Common methods

All menus provide a bunch of methods. Most of them have been coverred above, but here is the list:

Name Description Arguments Return
add_item Add new item to a menu array of options item
add_items Add new items to a menu array of items arrays array
add_widget Add a new widget instead of an item a widget, args ---
add_widgets Add new widgets array of widgets ---
add_embeded_menu Add an inline menu to another menu an "embed" menu ---
add_key_binding Add a global key binding to a menu mod array, key ---
add_key_hook Add a callback when a key is pressed mod, key, event, func ---
clear Remove all items --- ---
scroll_down If the menu is cropped, scroll down --- ---
scroll_up If the menu is cropped, scroll up --- ---
hide Hide a menu and all sub menus --- ---
swap Swap 2 items both items ---
move Move an item the item, the new idx ---
remove Remove the item the item ---
append Append an existing (but unused) item the item ---
add_prefix_widget Add a widget at the beginning of the menu the widget ---
add_suffix_widget Add a widget at the end of the menu the widget ---
add_colors_namespace Use prefixed colors from beautiful the namespace name ---
add_colors_group Add a new color group (see below for details) the group name ---


Menu also emit many signals, the syntax is usually PROPERTY_NAME::changed. Some others are item::moved, item::swapped, item::removed, item::appended

Here is an example of how to catch an "opacity" change:

        -- Do something

Most item_layout also repackage the default widget signals. It usually does the same as using the buttonX menu attributes, but is preferrable in some scenarios like when a modifier is applied.

Name Description Arguments
button::press A button press menu,item,button_id,mods,geo
button::release A button release menu,item,button_id,mods,geo
mouse::enter When the mouse enter menu,item
mouse::leave When the mouse leave menu,item
long::hover The mouse is hover 1.5 sec menu,item
long::press The mouse is pressed 1.5 sec menu,item

mods is an array with the applied modifier as key. If the value is nil, then the modifier is not present. Usual modifiers are Control, Shift, mod1 (Alt) and mod4.

An example of how to use them:

    local menubar ={}
        if mods.Control then
            print("Foo menu pressed!",item.text,button,data.rowcount)
    -- Also work on items
        print("bar click released!")

Beautiful options

Radical also use the some of the same theme options as, plus some:

Name Description Type
menu_height Menu height String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_width Menu default/minimum width Number
menu_border_width Border width Number
menu_border_color Border color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_fg_normal Text/Foreground color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_bg_focus Selected item color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_bg_header Header widget background color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_bg_alternate Scrollbar and other widget color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_bg_normal Default background String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_bg_highlight Highlighted item background String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_submenu_icon Sub menu pixmap (aka >) Path/Pattern
menu_separator_color Menu separator color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_opacity Use your favorite compositor Number (0=0%, 1=100%)
menu_draw_underlay Function returning the underlay pixmap function(array,width)
menu_icon_transformation The function used to draw the icon function(image,data,item)
menu_corner_radius Arrow based menu corner radius Number (default = 10)
dock_corner_radius The dock menu type corner radius Number (default 10)
menu_outline_color Arrow menu outer border color String/Gradient/Pattern
menu_checkbox_style The style used for checkboxes "holo" or "default"

Styling can also be done using the icon_transformation option. This feature allow masks such as desaturation, tinting, invert or some matrix to be applied on the pixmap before it is being drawn. This function take the path/surface as only parameter and return the transformed surface.

Other elements can be added to items such as prefix and siffixes. Those elements sometime need extra color groups. The add_color_group method allow to register such new category.

Some generic menu can also register beautiful namespaces using the add_colors_namespace method. For example, the tasklist namespace can be used by adding elements such as beautiful.tasklist_bg_urgent to your theme.

Extending Radical

Radical is not designed to be used "as is". Every menus are different. While common ones can be created without extending Radical capabilities, more advanced one most likely will. Good news, this is what Radical have been designed for. The previous generations proved to me that any lack or native extensibility will cause the code to bloat when it come to adding a feature. Radical horizontal design allow to add more modules and properties without having to touch the "core" files.

Object model

The Radical object model is similar to the Awesome one. Each objects have a set of signals developers can listen to to have changes notification. The big difference is that Radical object model automatically generate the properties themselves. If one desire to add a new one, it is possible to listen to item::added to apply it on the item or apply it directly on the menu itself depending if the property is for the menu or for an item. Here is an example how it work:

    local menu = radical.context{}
    -- Create the setter
    menu.set_foo = function(m,value)
        print("Setting value to:",value)
        m._foo_real = value
    -- Create the getter
    menu.get_foo = function(m)
        print("Getter called, returning",m._foo_real)
    -- The property is now created, this will call the setter: = "my foo value"
    -- This will call the getter:
    -- The signals will be automatically generated
        print("foo changed:",value)
    -- New signals don't need to be registered and can be called right away
    -- Manually emiting a signal

State model

Radical support multiple states per item at once. The "current state" is the one with the smallest ID. A state ID is an integer from -inf to inf. More important states, like urgent versus checked can be implemented by using an appropriate ordering. The default set of states is subject to changes, so it is wiser to use a completely different range if someone want to replace the currents one. Each states can be assigned a background and foreground color using the radical.theme.register_color(id, radical_name, beautiful_name, true ) method. Toggling a state can be done using the item.state[] meta table:

    local my_state_name = 9999 -- <== The ID
    local menu = radical.context{}
    local item = menu:add_item{text="text"}
    -- Activate a state
    item.state[my_state_name] = true
    -- Desactivate a state
    item.state[my_state_name] = nil

Radical will take care of choosing the current state and redraw the item with the right background and foreground colors.





Item layout


Item style



An extensible menu subsystem for Awesome WM







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