Simplest NSOutlineView Demo

Most NSOutlineView examples I have seen are not that helpful since you spend time trying to figure out how the data model behind the example works rather than seeing how to use the framework itself. Yes, the data model is critical, however if you don’t understand the framework then you won’t be able to write a controller to feed the view or the model…

 So. I have tried instead to get started by boiling this all down to the simplest possible configuration.

Before the Memory Leak Police get on to me, the below is not written for memory management beauty but rather to demonstrate the framework; so, the reader is left to figure out the releases. I know I generate lots of objects…and also that I violate MVC….

But, can you make it simpler than this..?


Power up Interface Builder, drop an NSOutlineView into a window, hook up the delegates and outlets like you would for NSTableView. That’s it.

Here is what’s going on in the code.

In Method#1, I hard-wire the code to return that every node has 3 children. You can see that in the output below if you look under the nodes that have been expanded. You could put here any integer or function that returns one.

In Method#2, you have to return a pointer to a unique object for each of the children that you declared in #1. Normally you would ferret around in your data model to find the right object. Here I just generate a new empty object each time and return a pointer to it.

In Method#3 I hard wire-in that every node is expandable.

Finally in Method#4, I demonstrate a point from the last blog entry. You return the data that you want displayed according to with the object you returned from Method#2.

This data can be from within the Method#2 object itself or it can be something completely different, perhaps even completely unrelated to the Method#2 object. For example, you could just return the word “Hello” and have it appear at every node on the view.

I chose to get the address of the Method#2 object (also demonstrating that each object in the tree is unique) and to concat that with some text.

In the next post, a more complicated directory browser. This time with MVC.

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