With Dynamic and gui-constructs like Popup I always have a problem: when an expression takes a while to evaluate the Dynamic parts look bad and usually breaks. For example, imagine a PopupMenu showing choices whose data has yet to be downloaded. I tried using things like PrintTemporary but they didn't achieve the in-place effect I'm looking for.

So, for an arbitrarily long running dynamic, inserting Activity Indicators (looped animations) seamlessly is what I'm after.

Here's my first attempt:

enter image description here

and the code:

assnMenu[f_,a_Association, title_:"Choose"] := Module[
        onValueChange[b, g];
        am = Table[With[{i=i}, a[i]:>(b=i)], {i, Keys@a}];
        b = First @ Keys[a];
        Panel @ Grid[
            {{ActionMenu[title, am, Method->"Queued"], 
                Dynamic[Style[a[b],FontFamily->"Arial Black",FontSize->14],UpdateInterval->1]},
            {Dynamic[r, TrackedSymbols:>{r}],SpanFromLeft}},

onValueChange[a_,f_] := Module[{},
        a/:Set[a,x_]:=((OwnValues[a]={HoldPattern[a]:>x}; f[x]);a)

This almost achieves what I want, but has a few glitches:

  • This seems too complicated to be the right way to do this.
  • In the current form assnMenu[slowFunc, <|10 -> "A", 5 -> "B"|>] takes 10 seconds to evaluate, so there is leakage.
  • I couldn't get it to work with a DynamicModule, (which has the nice option DynamicEvaluationTimeouts), which would help a lot.
  • I probably overlooked some part of the docs, I feel like there should already be high level functionalities handling this sort of stuff.

1 Answer 1


An adaption of this answer for an ActionMenu and to your styling:

assnMenuK[slowF_, a_Association, title_: "Choose"] := 
 DynamicModule[{done = False, lastSelection = ""},
      KeyValueMap[#2 :> (lastSelection = #2; done = "working"; 
          slowF[#1]; done = True) &, a], Method -> "Queued"],
     Dynamic@Style[lastSelection, FontFamily -> "Arial Black", FontSize -> 14]},
    {Dynamic@Switch[done, False, "",
       True, "done", 
       "working", ProgressIndicator[Appearance -> "Percolate"]], 


assnMenuK[Pause, <|1 -> "A", 2 -> "B"|>]


The "in-place effect" can be improved even further, e.g., by using Invisible["A"] instead of "" and PaneSelector instead of Switch.

assnMenuK2[slowF_, a_Association, title_: "Choose"] := DynamicModule[
  {done = False, lastSelection = Invisible["A"]},
       KeyValueMap[#2 :> (lastSelection = #2; done = "working";
           slowF[#1]; done = True) &, a]
       , Method -> "Queued"], 
      Dynamic@Style[lastSelection, FontFamily -> "Arial Black", FontSize -> 14]}, 
        {False -> "",
         True -> "done",
         "working" -> ProgressIndicator[Appearance -> "Percolate"]},
        , Alignment -> Center],

assnMenuK2[Pause, <|1 -> "A", 2 -> "B"|>]


  • $\begingroup$ The Dynamic in Dynamic[ProgressIndicator[...]] is not needed. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2015 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ @ArielSepulveda Thanks for pointing that out. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten 7.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting use of "Setting" in Dynamic@Setting@done . Any comments on why it is needed? I tried replacing it with a FinishDynamic[] after done = "working" and didn't work. $\endgroup$ Mar 1, 2017 at 20:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GustavoDelfino Dynamic@Setting@done is just a workaround for a bug. I simply prefer it over using Dynamic@First@{done}. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten 7.
    Mar 2, 2017 at 0:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GustavoDelfino the second argument for Setting is undocumented and is even highlighted as a syntax error in the notebook, but it is a level specification. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten 7.
    Mar 2, 2017 at 0:30

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