Recipe 11.5 Resizing Menus to Fit Their Contents

11.5.1 Problem

You want to adjust the width of a menu to accommodate the widest menu item.

11.5.2 Solution

Create and invoke a custom adjustWidth( ) method.

11.5.3 Discussion

Both combo boxes and list boxes default to a width of 100 pixels, and they do not automatically resize to fit their contents when you populate them. Therefore, the text of menu items wider than 100 pixels is cut off. Although the menu components offer no documented means of adjusting the width to fit the contents, there are several undocumented properties you can use to create a custom method that sizes the menus appropriately. Menu components (list boxes and combo boxes) are subclasses of FSelectableListClass. Therefore, if you add a custom adjustWidth( ) method to FSelectableListClass, it is accessible to both list boxes and combo boxes.

Furthermore, all objects derived from FSelectableListClass have three undocumented properties that are valuable in calculating the necessary width to accommodate all the menu items:


An array of string values displayed in the menu when the menu is populated from the Parameters panel at authoring time.


A reference to a DataProvider object that is created when the menu is populated at runtime by the setDataProvider( ) method. It has an items property that is an array of objects with label properties (yielding the needed string values).


A reference to the TextFormat object used to format the menu items.

You can use these properties to determine the text width of each menu item (using the TextFormat.getTextExtent( ) method).

Here is our custom FSelectableListClass.adjustWidth( ) method:

// Add the adjustWidth(  ) method to FSelectableListClass.
FSelectableListClass.prototype.adjustWidth = function (  ) {

  // maxW stores the largest text extent.
  var maxW = 0;

  // w stores the text extent of each label element.
  var w;

  // The local variable labels is an array of the string values for each menu item.
  // Assign it the value of the labels property to begin with.
  var labels = this.labels;

  // If the menu was not populated at authoring time, set labels to an array of the
  // values obtained from the data provider.
  if (labels == undefined) {
    labels = new Array(  );
    // Append the label property for each data provider to the labels array.
    for (var i = 0; i < this.dataprovider.getLength(  ); i++) {

  // Loop through all the elements of the labels array.
  for (i = 0; i < labels.length; i++) {

    // Use textstyle.getTextExtent(  ) to obtain the width of each label (it returns an
    // object with width and height properties, and we extract width here). 
    w = this.textstyle.getTextExtent(labels[i]).width;

    // Store the width of the widest label in maxW.
    maxW = Math.max(w, maxW);

  // Use setSize(  ) to set the menu width to maxW + 25. The 25 is padding so that menu
  // items are not cut off by scrollbars. Pass the current height to setSize(  ) to
  // leave the list box's height unchanged (height does not apply to combo boxes).
  this.setSize(maxW + 25, this._height);

You can test the custom adjustWidth( ) method as follows:

// Create a new list box.
_root.attachMovie("FListBoxSymbol", "myListBox_lb", 1);

// Create an array to use as the data provider.
menuItems = ["item a", "item b", "item c", "item d"];

// Populate the list box.

// Call adjustWidth(  ) to set the menu width to fit the contents.
myListBox_lb.adjustWidth(  );

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