Reference Angular Imports Absolutely for Easier Development

Chris Sevilleja

Working with Angular has been a delight. Working with TypeScript, Observables, and the CLI have been great tools for development.

Referencing Imports Relatively

One piece of feedback I've noticed when working with Angular is when importing components and classes around your application.

Take the following for example:

import { HeaderComponent } from './components/header/header.component';
import { FooterComponent } from './components/footer/footer.component';
import { GifService } from '../core/services/gif.service';

All the imports here are referenced relatively. It can be a hassle to remember how many folders to jump into and out of.

If you move your files around, you'll have to update all your import paths.

Let's look at how we can reference imports absolutely so that TypeScript always looks at the root /src folder when finding items.

Our goal for this will be to reference things like so:

import { HeaderComponent } from '@app/components/header/header.component';
import { FooterComponent } from '@app/components/footer/footer.component';
import { GifService } from '@app/core/services/gif.service';

This is similar to how Angular imports are referenced using @angular like @angular/core or @angular/router.

Setting Up Absolute Paths

Since TypeScript is what is in charge of transpiling our Angular apps, we'll make sure to configure our paths in tsconfig.json.

In the tsconfig.json, we'll do two things by using two of the compiler options:

  • baseUrl: Set the base folder as /src
  • paths: Tell TypeScript to look for @app in the /src/app folder

baseUrl will be the base directory that is used to resolve non-relative module names. paths is an array of mapping entries for module names to locations relative to the baseUrl.

Here's the original tsconfig.json that comes with a new Angular CLI install. We'll add our two lines to compilerOptions.

{
  "compileOnSave": false,
  "compilerOptions": {
   ...

    "baseUrl": "src",
    "paths": {
      "@app/*": ["app/*"]
    }
  }
}

With that in our tsconfig.json, we can now reference items absolutely!

import { HeaderComponent } from '@app/components/header/header.component';
import { FooterComponent } from '@app/components/footer/footer.component';
import { GifService } from '@app/core/services/gif.service';

This is great because we can now move our files around and not have to worry about updating paths everywhere.

A Little Fun

For my projects, I like to update the @app to be something more personalized. Scotch projects use @scotch and other projects use @batcave.

Chris Sevilleja

162 posts

Co-founder of Scotch.io. Slapping the keyboard until something good happens.