A feature for visibly distinguishing multiple containers within an application being edited in an ADE is described. When the user selects to activate the container expansion, the ADE identifies an active target container in the application and then analyzes a container hierarchy based on the target container. The ADE visually represents the container hierarchy in a graphical overlay superimposed on top of the application. The visual representation includes a container proxy for each of the containers within the hierarchy. The container proxies are drawn in a manner to visibly distinguish each of the proxies to the developer even though the actual containers are not distinguishable in the application. The overlay of container proxies are superimposed onto the application in a design view of the ADE and the developer may make changes to the underlying application by interacting with the overlay.