I have a hierarchical data arranged in, say, gardens -> trees -> branches -> leaves. A user can create multiple gardens, and each garden can have multiple trees, with each tree having multiple branches, and finally each branch supporting multiple leaves.

At any point, I can add as many new data points within a parent group.

All these data support CRUD operations. They are shown in a tabular format. I am least worried about CUD ops as they will have their own action button (at the row level for UD and at top for C).

For the listing, we have a dropdown on top left that helps a user select the dataset that they are working on. So on first load, I list all the gardens. A user can then opt for their choice using the dropdown/combo-box at the top left. The top right button allows a user to add a new data to the current set.

What I currently have is at level 1: s

Using similar layout, for level 2: enter image description here It will also have a combo-box on top right indicating the current garden selected and allowing to switch between gardens.

Question: Is there a better way to represent the data than using dropdowns? I must be able to filter the data shown based on its parent category, e.g. listing all the branches within a tree T11.

1 Answer 1


So, what you have here is topologically similar to a file browser. As such, using patterns from file browsers are likely going to be helpful here.

This means in particular that instead of a dropdown which only tells you which level you're in, you may want to consider using a tree view instead of, or in addition of the table.

The Windows Explorer would be a good example here for a system that allows both; the left panel is a tree view of only the folders (anything but leaves), the right panel is a (non-recursive) list of all items of the current folders.

  • The data could run really long, to the tune of requiring pagination; hence the tabular approach. I do like the idea of thinking over the level; will adding breadcrumbs help here? Like Garden1 -> Tree12 -> Branch 121 Jan 12 at 17:01
  • Breadcrumbs also would help, yes. Taking the Windows Explorer as inspiration once more, that'd be equivalent to their top panel. In their case, each breadcrumb step itself has a dropdown arrow allowing you to quickly change between folders within a certain level, and they also allow you type in a text path to a specific place if you want to. Jan 12 at 18:48

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