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The Current Folder Browser’s new dimension

In R2009b, the Current Folder Browser gained the ability to show hierarchical information rather than just a flat list of items. We actually did more than just add a hierarchical view though, and merged the best features of a flat view with the best features of a hierarchical view.

A simple flat directory listing isn’t very useful when viewing classes, as you’ll probably want to see the full package hierarchy (see the screen shot above). But with a hierarchical view, you can be saddled with seeing the full hierarchy all the way back to the root — typically not a very scalable solution.

We wanted to eliminate the drawbacks of both the flat and hierarchical views. To do this, we kept the old behavior of double clicking a folder to make that the current working directory (CWD), but we also used that gesture to reset the root of the tree.

So if you were looking at a full listing of what’s on your hard drive and double clicked a folder named tmp, then tmp would become the root of what’s shown in your Current Folder Browser, as well as the CWD. You could also view the contents of folders under tmp without actually changing the current directory by clicking the little “twisty” (the arrow on Mac or plus sign on Windows) next to the folder.

In general, I’m not a fan of hierarchal views, as they add visual and interactive complexity. But in this case, I think we’ve mitigated that potential complexity by letting you choose the root of your view.

What do you think about this new way to view your content?

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