How to Write a Tree Expansion Listener
Trail: Creating a GUI With JFC/Swing
Lesson: Writing Event Listeners
Section: Implementing Listeners for Commonly Handled Events

How to Write a Tree Expansion Listener

Sometimes when using a tree, you might need to react when a branch becomes expanded or collapsed. For example, you might need to load or save data.

Two kinds of listeners report expansion and collapse occurrences: tree expansion listeners and tree-will-expand listeners. This page discusses tree expansion listeners. See How to Write a Tree-Will-Expand Listener for a description of Tree-Will-Expand listeners.

A tree expansion listener detects when an expansion or collapse has already occured. In general, you should implement a tree expansion listener unless you need to prevent an expansion or collapse from ocurring .


This example demonstrates a simple tree expansion listener. The text area at the bottom of the window displays a message every time a tree expansion event occurs. It's a straightforward, simple demo. To see a more interesting version that can veto expansions, see How to Write a Tree-Will-Expand Listener.


Try this: 
  1. Click the Launch button to run TreeExpandEventDemo using Java™ Web Start (download JDK 7 or later). Alternatively, to compile and run the example yourself, consult the example index.Launches the TreeExpandEventDemo example
  2. Expand a node. A tree-expanded event is fired.
  3. Collapse the node. A tree-collapsed event is fired.

The following code shows how the program handles expansion events. You can find the source code for this example in

public class TreeExpandEventDemo ... {
    void saySomething(String eventDescription, TreeExpansionEvent e) {
        textArea.append(eventDescription + "; "
                        + "path = " + e.getPath()
                        + newline);

    class DemoArea ... implements TreeExpansionListener {
        public DemoArea() {
        // Required by TreeExpansionListener interface.
        public void treeExpanded(TreeExpansionEvent e) {
            saySomething("Tree-expanded event detected", e);

        // Required by TreeExpansionListener interface.
        public void treeCollapsed(TreeExpansionEvent e) {
            saySomething("Tree-collapsed event detected", e);

The Tree Expansion Listener API

The TreeExpansionListener Interface

TreeExpansionListener has no adapter class.

Method Purpose
treeCollapsed(TreeExpansionEvent) Called just after a tree node collapses.
treeExpanded(TreeExpansionEvent) Called just after a tree node expands.

The TreeExpansionEvent API

Method Purpose
Object getSource() Return the object that fired the event.
TreePath getPath() Returns a TreePath object that identifies each node from the root of the tree to the collapsed/expanded node, inclusive.

Examples that Use Tree Expansion Listeners

The following table lists the examples that use tree expansion listeners.

Example Where Described Notes
TreeExpandEventDemo This section Displays a message whenever a tree expansion event occurs.
TreeExpandEventDemo2 How to Write a Tree-Will-Expand Listener Adds a tree-will-expand listener to TreeExpandEventDemo.

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