How to use absolute import paths in Node.js

Published on in Node.js and npm

Say goodbye to ../ times million and use absolute import paths from the app's root directory instead. Two contenders: Basetag and Sultan's sexy-require! ðŸĪš

Table of contents

Sultan's sexy-require

Example usage of the sexy-require npm package by Sultan:

// Before, unclear what's being required 👎
const user = require('../../../database/user')

// After, absolute path from the app's root dir 👍
const user = require('/database/user')

// Alternatively, using an alias configured in a `.paths` file 👍
const user = require('$db/user')

sexy-require overrides Module.prototype.require, so in other files require() points to sexy-require's require function which supports absolute paths and path aliases.

Pros

  • Simple to set up: install the package and require it in your main application file.
  • Supports path aliases.
  • The name!

Cons

  • Breaks VS Code's IntelliSense.
  • Breaks path autocompletion in VS Code.
  • Supports only require(), not import.

Basetag

Example usage of the Basetag npm package by Jannik:

// Before, unclear what's being required 👎
import user from '../../../database/user'
const user = require('../../../database/user')

// After, $ points to the app's root dir 👍
import user from '$/database/user'
const user = require('$/database/user')

Basetag creates a symlink, or something called a junction on Windows, so that node_modules/$ points to the app's root directory.

Pros

  • Works with VS Code's IntelliSense.
  • Path autocompletion works in VS Code.
  • Supports both require() and import.

Cons

  • No way to configure path aliases.
  • The symlink gets removed by npm when installing or removing packages, so you need to e.g. create a postinstall npm script as instructed in the package's readme. Not difficult, but a little hassle.

Which one to use

I'm not sure which one I like more:

  • Better VS Code support of Basetag.
  • The name Sultan's sexy-require.

Just kidding – use Basetag, good IDE support is more important. Plus it also supports import statements.