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Select menus

Custom select menus

The framework is capable of building a custom menu based on the select element's list of options. We recommend using a custom menu when multiple selections are required, or when the menu itself must be styled with CSS.

You can optionally use custom-styled select menus instead of the native OS menu. The custom menu supports disabled options and multiple selection (whereas native mobile OS support for both is inconsistent), adds an elegant way to handle placeholder values, and restores missing functionality on certain platforms such as optgroup support on Android (all explained below). In addition, the framework applies the custom button's theme to the menu to better match the look and feel and provide visual consistency across platforms. Lastly, custom menus often look better on desktop browsers because native desktop menus are smaller than their mobile counterparts and tend to look disproportionate.

Keep in mind that there is overhead involved in parsing the native select to build a custom menu. If there are a lot of selects on a page, or a select has a long list of options, this can impact the performance of the page, so we recommend using custom menus sparingly.

To use custom menus on a specific select, just add the data-native-menu="false" attribute. Alternately, this can also programmatically set the select menu's nativeMenu configuration option to false in a callback bound to the mobileinit event to achieve the same effect. This will globally make all selects use the custom menu by default. The following must be included in the page after jQuery is loaded but before jQuery Mobile is loaded.

   $.mobile.selectmenu.prototype.options.nativeMenu = false;

When the select has a small number of options that will fit on the device's screen, the menu will appear as a small overlay with a pop transition:

When it has too many options to show on the device's screen, the framework will automatically create a new "page" populated with a standard listview for the options. This allows us to use the native scrolling included on the device for moving through a long list. The text inside the label is used as the title for this page.

Disabled options

jQuery Mobile will automatically disable and style option tags with the disabled attribute. In the demo below, the second option "Rush: 3 days" has been set to disabled.

Placeholder options

It's common for developers to include a "null" option in their select element to force a user to choose an option. If a placeholder option is present in your markup, jQuery Mobile will hide them in the overlay menu, showing only valid choices to the user, and display the placeholder text inside the menu as a header. A placeholder option is added when the framework finds:

  • An option with no value attribute (or an empty value attribute)
  • An option with no text node
  • An option with a data-placeholder="true" attribute. (This allows you to use an option that has a value and a textnode as a placeholder option).

You can disable this feature through the selectmenu plugin's hidePlaceholderMenuItems option, like this:

$.mobile.selectmenu.prototype.options.hidePlaceholderMenuItems = false;

Examples of various placeholder options:

Multiple selects

If the multiple attribute is present in your markup, jQuery Mobile will enhance the element with a few extra considerations:

  • A header element will be created inside the menu and display the placeholder text and a close button.
  • Clicking on an item inside the overlay menu will not close the widget.
  • A ghosted, unchecked icon will appear adjacent to each unselected item. When the item is selected the icon will change to a checkbox. Neither icon will appear inside a single select box.
  • Once 2+ items are selected, a counter element with the total number of selected items will appear inside the button.
  • The text of each selected item will appear inside the button as a list. If the button is not wide enough to display the entire list, it is truncated with an ellipses.
  • If no items are selected, the button's text will default to the placeholder text.
  • If no placeholder element exists, the default button text will be blank and the header will appear with just a close button. Because this isn't a friendly user experience, we recommended that you always specify a placeholder element when using multiple select boxes.

When a select is large enough to where the menu will open in a new page, the placeholder text is displayed in the button when no items are selected, and the label text is displayed in the menu's header. This differs from smaller overlay menus where the placeholder text is displayed in both the button and the header, and from full-page single selects where the placeholder text is not used at all.

Optgroup support

If a select menu contains optgroup elements, jQuery Mobile will create a divider and group items based on the label attribute's text. The default theme for group dividers is "b" (blue in the default theme) but can be changed with the data-divider-theme attribute on the select menu:

Theming selects

You can specify any jQuery Mobile button data- attribute on a select element, too. In this example, we're setting the theme, icon and inline properties:

The data-overlay-theme attribute can be added to a select element to set the color of the overlay layer for the dialog-based custom select menus and the outer border of the smaller custom menus. By default, the content block colors for swatch "a"" will be used for the overlays.