December 5, 2020

Never Use Relative Imports Again

Something I see consistently in React is how painful relative imports are to a developers workflow. They really get in the way of a good architecture because:

  • We resist creating smaller components to avoid writing those annoying imports again.
  • We avoid moving our components around since doing so also means we need to adjust all of the imports.

The good news is, this can be fixed with a little magic from webpack. More specifically, webpack.resolve.alias. Here's a link to their documentation if you want a deeper understanding.

Let's dive right in with an example.

Here's a pretend file deep in your codebase.

// from src/components/forms/fields/datetime/index.js
import utils from "../../../../../utils/datetime-format"

That's not very fun, and I usually get the path wrong a time or two before I figure it out. Wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to remember how many folders to include in my path? What if I could start at utils and go forward instead of starting at my file and going backward?

Well, you can! By adding this little snippet to your webpack config. (Not sure what that is? You can learn more about it here)

You may need to modify this a bit since every project is different.

resolve: {
alias: {
utils: path.resolve('./src/utils'),

Once you have the resolve alias in place, you'll be able to do this instead!

// from src/components/forms/fields/datetime/index.js
import utils from "utils/datetime-format"

From now on, you'll never have to keep track of how many folders deep you are in your project. You'll also be able to move your component around anywhere in your application's src folder without needing to alter the imports.