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Introduction


Menus are an important aspects of many scripts. They establish a link between the user and the script. That's why I believe that good looking menus are like figureheads for scripts - not necessary, but it determines the first impression you have of a script. By now I assume that you know what arrays are and how they can be read, written and altered.

 

This Tutorial can also be downloaded as a pdf document:

 

Content


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1. The basics


The most important thing at front: Menus are just arrays. No black magic, but simple arrays. The SE offers various commands, which help creating menus, but always keep in mind, that these commands just create arrays with different formats.
First let's have a quick look on the main ingredients of a menu: The initialization, the headings, the info lines and the menu items.

1.1. Initialization

To initialize a menu you will usually use the command <RetVar> = create custom menu array. This command does nothing else that creating an empty array, so you could also use <RetVar> = array alloc: size = 0. The advantage of the menu command is, that it is more readable and thus helps maintaining the script later.

1.2. Menu headings

Menu headings can be created using the command add custom menu heading to array <Value>: title = <Var/String>. <Value> is of course the menu array, you want to add the heading to. Headings will always displayed in the same order they were added. Additionally they will only be
displayed, when at least one menu item follows directly after them. Sometimes it can be more handy to create menu headings manually. To do so, you need to create an array of size 2: index 0 being the integer -1, index 1 the text.

1.3. Info lines

Info lines can be handy sometimes and in my opinion they make a menu look more classy, compared to the use of a menu description. Creating info lines is done with the command add custom menu info line to array <Value>: text = <Var/String>. They are displayed at the top of the menu in the order they were added to the menu. Creating info lines manually is of course also possible, but not needed normally.

1.4. Menu items

The most important parts of menus are normally the menu items. They are created via the command add custom menu item to array <Value1>: text = <Var/String> returnvalue = <Value2>. <Var/String> is of course the text, <Value1> the menu array and <Value2> the return value. The latter is maybe the most important, since it enables you to know, which menu item was selected. Return values can be anything you can imagine. Often they are 'exit' or any other string, identifying the menu item. Of course they can also be objects like a station or a ship. Menu items are always displayed in the order they were added. You can simply create one manually by creating an array of size 2 with index 0 being the text and index 1 the return value.

1.5. Example code

Now that we know the most important menu commands we can create a first script, which uses these commands. The following script will let the player choose one of his own ships out of a menu, which is then destroyed.

 

Even though this script is very simple, I'll explain the important lines concerning menus:

lineexplanation
002Initialization of the menu, directly dening a heading
009Just to prevent the [PLAYERSHIP] from being selected
010Add a menu item, which returns $ship, to the menu
013Open the menu and save the returnvalue of the selected menu item in the variable $ret
014

When a menu is closed via {ESC} $ret will have the integer value -1; if this is the case, the script will be terminated in line 015

016Destroys the selected ship

 

 

2. Digging deeper


Now that you know the basics of creating menus, I'll describe some more elaborate commands and techniques, most of which were added with patch 2.5.

2.1. Columns

Until know the text entries of menu items were only simple strings, which is ne, until you want to use columns and create tables in your menus. In the past (before X3TC patch 2.5) creating columns was only possible by workarounds using special library scripts. With patch 2.5 this is not the case any longer, because any menu command which expects a text, will also work with an array of the following structure: ARRAY('PosCol1', 'text1', 'PosCol2', 'text2', ... , 'PosColn', 'textn').

'PosCol1' stands for 'position of column one' and has to be an integer value. 1 will position your column at the left side, -1 at the right side. For the two different menu types there are of course two different maximum positions. For the 'normal' menu 346 is the maximum value, for the 'info' menu it is 858. 'text1' stands for the text which will displayed at previoulsy defined position and has to be a string, otherwise it won't be displayed.

Actually this is all there is to say about columns. They are quite easy to use and will enhance your menus, if you need them.

2.2. Value selections

Using the command add value selection to menu: <Var/Array1>, text=<Var/String1>, value array=<Var/Array2>, default=<Var/Number>, return id=<Var/String2> it is possible to add value selections to your own menus. <Var/Array1> is of course the menu array, you want to add the selection to, <Var/String1> the text, which will appear in front of the selection. <Var/Array2> is the array, holding the values you want to browse through. With <Var/Number> you can define which of the array's values should be displayed by default when opening the menu, with <Var/Number> being the index of this value. Finally, with <Var/String2> you can set a return id, which will later help us identifying the value selection.

2.2.1. Interpreting the return of a menu containing value selections

As soon as menus contain value selections the interpretation of the returns gets a bit more complicated. In the following paragraph I'll always refer to the following code for variable names:
$ret = open custom menu: title = null description = null option array = $menu

When hitting {ESC} $ret will hold the integer value -1. This is true for any kind of menu, regardless of the used menu items. Now for the more elaborate situations:

Say we created an exit-button with the returnvalue 'exit', which is preceded by two value selections with the return ids 'selection1' and 'selection2'. If you now select the exit-button, $ret will not simply hold 'exit', but the following array: ARRAY('exit', ARRAY(2), ARRAY(2)). First of all, we still see 'exit' as the first entry of the $ret-array, so the first element of the return array will always hold the selected menu item's returnvalue. The following elements in the $ret-array are arrays of the follwoing structure: ARRAY('return id', 'index'). So in our case the second element of the $ret-array will be ARRAY('selection1', 'index'), with 'index' being the index of the selected value in the value array. But you still don't know which value was selected, because you only know its index, so in a last step, you'll normally have to get the element with this index out of the value array. The third element of our $ret-array will be the corresponding array for the second value selection. As you see, the value selections will be listed in the $ret{array according to their position in the menu.

Working with value selections may seem complicated at rst, but sooner or later you'll get used to it and your menus will benet from their use.

2.3. Dynamic menus

Long time I didn't even know this was possible, but by accident I found the way to create menus, which can actually display data dynamically. For the beginner it might seem complicated, but it is not. The basic idea is that you directly alter the menu array. To do so, you'll have to save the menu items in a global variable, with one script altering the values and another one opening the menu. The following example should clarify how things work. It uses two scripts, which will together make a dynamic menu displaying the playership's rotation values. The first one is the script gathering the data, the second one displays them.

 

I'll explain the most important lines:

lineexplanation
001-004

Setting up the text for the menu item; three columns will be positioned at 1, 100 and 200

005

Creating the menu item directly without using the menu commands, since there is yet no menu we could add the item to

006Saving the menu item in a global variable called 'log.rot'
008Beginning of the inte loop, which will log the playerships rotation values
009-011Gathering rotation values
013-015Converting the rotation values to strings, because columns can only display strings
017-019

Altering the menu item array; since arrays are just pointers, this directly alters the global variable, too

020Actually this wait is too short, as dynamic menus will only update every second
021End of the inifte loop


Now that we have set up the script, which alters the menu item, let's have a look at the script, which opens the menu.

 

I guess by now you already know how it's working, but here's the explanation:

lineexplanation
001-007Setting up the menu heading
008Loading global variable, which holds the menu item
010Creating menu, directly appending heading
011Appending the menu item to the menu array
012Opening the menu

 

And that's it. To run the dynamic menu, you'll first have to run the first script and then the second one. Of course there are ways to do this more elegantly, but for demonstration purposes this should be enough.

 

3. Known Bugs


The introduction of the new menus commands in X3: Terran Conflict patch 2.5 also introduced several bugs, concerning the menus.

3.1. Double headings

When the first heading of your menu contains column information, the title of the menu will appear as an additional heading above the one you set yourself. Using the following code, you can reproduce that bug yourself.

 

Solution: Simply add a menu heading 'null' in front of the rst heading. So the above script would look like this:

 

Adding custom info lines to your menu will also lead to 'double headings'. However, I didn't research the exact circumstances, so you'll have to check yourself.

3.2. Moving columns

This is a very strange bug, which will appear when you have at least two different column groups in your menus. Just imagine you want to display one set of data with the column values 1 and 100 and another set with the values 20 and 70. When the menu entries of column group two (20, 70) are only visible by scrolling down the menu, the columns will not be positioned correctly. In my experience they will widen, e.g. the positions will change from (20, 70) to (10, 80). This can be very annoying, when your columns are positioned closely to each other. 

Solution: Unforunately I didn't find any solution until now. If one of you does, please report.

 

4. Résumé


I hope you liked my introduction to the menus of X3: Terran Conflict. For any questions, ideas or mistakes feel free to contact me in the official EGOSOFT Forum or, even better, post in the dedictated forum thread for this tutorial. With new knowledge gathered go ahead and create beautiful menus!


Regards
ScRaT

 

Annotations


This tutorial was written by ScRaT_GER from the Egosoft forum. Originally, it has been published in the X3: Terran Conflict Scripts and Modding forum in this topic after the release of Update 2.5 for X3: Terran Conflict. Due to the unavailibility of ScRaT_GER's website, where the tutorial was hosted, it has been republished in this wiki with a slightly adjusted formatting now. Please note that the tutorial wasn't changed content-wise, so still contains the information from X3TC version 2.5. However, most (if not all) information presented in this tutorial should still be valid for the latest versions of X3: Terran Conflict (3.2d) and X3: Albion Prelude (3.1a). X2-Illuminatus

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