This issue was raised as an offside problem in this thread. Consider the following example, that does not work as expected:

Manipulate[{x, r}, {{x, r}}, {r, 0, 1}]

Note that as r is manipulated the InputField of x is updated (as the initial value of x is set to be r) but not the x displayed as the body of the Manipulate. Interestingly, if x depends on r in a different way (endpoints of range instead of initial value) the example works as expected: whenever r is changed it changes both the displayed values of x:

Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, r, 1}, {r, 0, 1}]

It seems like that in Manipulate changing a variable (r) does not trigger a re-evaluation of the initial-value-dependent variable (x) displayed in the body though its value displayed in the control is updated correctly.

I have no idea why the first example does not work the same way as the second does. While it might be said that this is a feature, I would argue that the unexplained decoupling of the two representations of x (as body and control) is quite disturbing.


  1. The re-evaluation can be triggered by making x dynamic:

    Manipulate[{Dynamic[x], r}, {{x, r}}, {r, 0, 1}]
  2. Moving the definition of x out of the control-arguments to the body of the Manipulate:

    Manipulate[{x = r, r}, {r, 0, 1}]
  3. Rewriting it in DynamicModule: it has an explicit function inside the Dynamic of r that sets x whenever r is modified:

    Panel@DynamicModule[{x, r = .5},
        x = r;
              {"x", InputField[Dynamic[x]]},
              {"r", Slider[Dynamic[r, (r = #; x = #) &], {0, 1}]},
              {Panel[Dynamic@{x, r}], SpanFromLeft}
             }, Alignment -> Left]

1 Answer 1


Using InputForm sheds some light:

Manipulate[{x, r}, {{x, r}}, {r, 0, 1}] // InputForm
(* Manipulate[{x, r}, {{x, r}},{r, 0, 1}] *)

Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, r, 1}, {r, 0, 1}] // InputForm
(* Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, Dynamic[r], 1}, {r, 0, 1}]*)

The desired behaviour of the first example can be achieve by this modification:

Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, r}, {r, 0, 1}]

Which has an input form of:

Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, r}, {r, 0, 1}] // InputForm
(* Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, Dynamic[r]}, {r, 0, 1}] *)

However Manipulate doesn't know how to render the control type, so therefore

Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, r, ControlType -> InputField}, {r, 0, 1}] // InputForm
(* Manipulate[{x, r}, {x, Dynamic[r], ControlType -> InputField}, {r, 0, 1}] *)

allows the first example to have similar behaviour to the second example.


In reply to the comment from @István Zachar this is my best guess as to why -- with the qualifier that I mostly use DynamicModule not Manipulate so am not an expert on its inner workings.

Manipulate[{x, r}, {{x, r}}, {r, 0, 1}]

is of the form Manipulate[{x, r}, {{u, u_unit}}, {r, 0, 1}]. It seems like an incomplete expression and the syntax colouring for x doesn't indicate localization. This is confirmed by Manipulate[{x, r}, {{x, r, 1}}, {r, 0, 1}] which is of the form Manipulate[{x, r}, {{u, u_unit,u_label}}, {r, 0, 1}] and renders as

enter image description here

So as written (i.e. {{u, u_unit}}) there is a value to display in the input field, r, but there is not a complete definition for x.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ While this answer indeed sheds some light, it does not give an explanation why it is like that. It still does not answer the question, why does x in the InputField get's updated but not x in the body, if they are the same. Aren't they? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, no explanation, and the thing is that Manipulate does know how to render the control type for x because it renders an input field which is correctly updated; and not only does it know how to render it, if you use the input field to change the value of x, then the body also gets updated accordingly! Looks like a bug to me. $\endgroup$
    – fairflow
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 8:51

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