Browse Prior Art Database

User Interface Control to Customize the Expansion of a Tree View

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015241D
Original Publication Date: 2001-Oct-24
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 5 page(s) / 244K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a user interface control that will give users more flexibility when expanding and collapsing tree view. It will allow the users to specify precisely to what level each branch in the tree view should be expanded to allow for easier browsing of the data in the tree view.

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User Interface Control to Customize the Expansion of a Tree View

Disclosed is a user interface control that will give users more flexibility when expanding and collapsing tree view. It will allow the users to specify precisely to what level each branch in the tree view should be expanded to allow for easier browsing of the data in the tree view.

Many programs are now using tree structures to represent hierarchical data. One well-known use of such a structure is Windows NT Explorer* in the Microsoft Windows* operating systems, which uses the tree as a way to organize files in directory structure, in which files are contained in folders, which can in turn be contained in other folders. Another increasingly common use of such a tree structure is to represent hierarchical data. For example, in IBM's XSL Stylesheet Editor, XML data is presented using a tree. Following is an example:

Fig. 1. Example of data in a tree view.

Each node on this tree represents either an element, an attribute of that element, or a value of that element. Each element may contain an attribute, a value, or another element, all of which are represented as child nodes of that element in the tree.

This is a very simple XML sample, but XML files can be very large and complex. While using a tree view of XML data is much easier to work with than the raw text, even a tree view for a large XML file can become quite cumbersome. As one is viewing or working with the data, it becomes necessary to expand (open) or collapse (close) many of the individual nodes (by

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clicking on the " +" or "-" icons). Many programs provide an option to Expand All or Collapse All, which either shows the tree fully expanded or fully collapsed, respectively. Some programs even allow you to select an individual node and expand all within that node (e.g., expand all it's children).

Using with a fully expanded tree when you are only working with the first several levels is not easy to do, because the presentation of all subsequent levels separates the levels that you are working with and are visually distracting. However, there is no easy way to specify how far you want the tree expanded for each branch of the tree (other than fully expanded or collapsed). For example, if I want to only show the first 3 levels of the tree, I would have to start at each top level node and expand it to the second level, and then expand each second level node to the third level. This would be very cumbersome for even a moderately large tree.

The invention described in this document would provide an easy way to specify exactly which level you wish to expand to, and would give the user much more control over how the data is presented. This is done by providing a feature (e.g., a toolbar) that has individual controls (e.g., buttons) corresponding to each level of the tree. The graphic below shows one possible implementation of such a feature.

Fig. 2. P...