I have a dashboard that I created using advanced XML which has dropdown menus.
I can use the module : <module name="SearchControls">
in order to get the config buttons. I wrap this module around the interior of my entire dashboard.
When I want to save this dashboard by clicking create->Dashboard Panel (from search controls),
it is a totally irrelevant dashboard that appears.
I do not want to save a simple search, I want to save the entire dashboard with the dropdown options saved.
1) What you want to enable in the SearchControls module is the "Save -> Save Search" menu item, under the "Save" menu. I understand how you're using the terminology, but what the "Create -> Create Dashboard" interaction is doing is correct and as designed. If you don't want the user to be able to create new simple dashboards with simple reports and searches on them, then don't enable that option in the SearchControls module.
2) If you want the saved search to load back in this custom view, and have all of the form elements reload with the original values selected, you will also want to load the "save_create_patches" file, and you can easily do this using the SideviewUtils module.
Without the save_create_patches file loaded, the behavior of saved searches will be just the core Splunk behavior, and notably your UI elements wouldn't reload correctly. Whereas when the file is loaded, all of the viewstate system is disabled, all of the intentions and resurrection system is effectively disabled. Instead of viewstates, the selections of UI elements will be saved directly into savedsearch.conf stanzas where they belong, etc... Lots of little things suddenly happen.
3) Also, this might help you understand the SearchControls module - there is actually a hidden page of documentation just about the SearchControls module, that you can manually go to by going to the app and then manually editing the URL so that it ends in