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Is there a default way in wordpress to create an overlay in the dashboard area? I need a jquery ui dialog to open after a button click. This is how it goes: The button click will fire a PHP function using AJAX, which in turn will make an API call and the response will be shown in the jquery ui dialog. However, it takes time to receive the response from a remote api server, so I need an overlay with a loader of some kind. Is there anything native to wordpress that I can use? What are my options?

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You should use WordPress's default javascript file in admin. Check out ThickBox in Codex.

Or, you can use jQuery UI Dialog plugin. You can find procedure to use in this answer of StackOverflow.

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