What is an Explorer view?

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An explorer view is a GUI component which can display a Node and (optionally) its child nodes. While Nodes are, by definition, a tree structure, explorer views are much more than just JTrees. Here is a list of the components available:

With the exception of PropertySheetView, all of these classes live in the package org.openide.explorer.view (sources in openide/explorer in NetBeans' CVS).

An explorer view’s content is controlled by its ExplorerManager - you don’t set the root node directly on the view component, you use its manager. This is so that more than one view can share a single manager, to do master-detail views (for example, the first page of the New Project wizard is one such view - the right hand panel displays children of the left hand panel’s selection).

There are a number of advantages to using Nodes and Explorer Views

A common usage is to get a Node for some folder on disk or in the configuration filesystem, optionally create a FilterNode to filter out some child nodes of it or its children, and display that.