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Aliasing JavaScript paths in Webpack, Eslint, Jest, and VSCode

You ever seen some nasty looking imports in JavaScript like

import Checkbox from '../../../core_components/Checkbox';

Coming from the world of Python with relative imports this all seemed pretty gross to me so I went out looking for a way to clean those up a bit. Sure enough Webpack offers a way to build your application with import aliases, and then Jest, Eslint, and VSCode itself can also be configured to resolve those aliased imports as well. The end results was taking that nasty import above and ending with this

import Checkbox from 'CoreComponents/Checkbox';

while maintaining the ability to see VSCode intellisense, have Eslint not throw “cannot resolve path” errors, and Jest tests still be able to run. Lets do it.


The most critical part of all this is that your application first builds correctly with the aliased imports we want to create. So we start with the webpack.config.js file first. The documentation on the settings I will use can be found here

Lets assume you have a directory of modules / react components / whatever exported JS stuff in a directory called ./core_components. Inside that directory is housed a bunch of your files with exported components in them. This directory is in the root of your project, and it needs to get used by other modules who are sometimes very deep in other directories.

├── webpack.config.js
├── core_components
│   └── Checkbox.js
├── some_page
│   ├── section
│       └── subsection
            └── another_subsection
                └── index.js

In webpack.config.js (or your equivalent base webpack config file)

const path = require('path');

module.exports = {
    entry: {
        // your settings
    // more of your settings
    resolve: {
        alias: {
            CoreComponents: path.resolve(__dirname, 'core_components/')

What this will do is tell Webpack that anytime it sees CoreComponents at the start of an import, it needs to alias that to the path you provided. If you want to alias another directory deeper you could something like

    resolve: {
        alias: {
            CoreComponents: path.resolve(__dirname, 'core_components/home_page_components/form_modules/')

or whatever your use case calls for. Now lets say you’re importing a component called Checkbox that lives in core_components from another module many directories deep in your project somewhere else. Instead of

import Checkbox from '../../../core_components/Checkbox';

we can now just do

import Checkbox from 'CoreComponents/Checkbox';

and your application should build. Run a Webpack build to confirm, though if you’re using Eslint it may be yelling at you along with VScode, and your Jests tests will have import errors. We’ll fix those next.

One thing worth considering here is making the alias name CoreComponents something more obviously different than your usual directories, for example @CoreComponents or some other non directory name symbol. This will help other developers who don’t know about the under the hood aliases to realize that your aliased directory name isn’t an actual directory on the file system. It will also help you in 3 weeks when you have forgotten about the magic you’ve forged here. I’m going to just use CoreComponents for this example but you can follow whatever convention you think is most clear. Webpack will take care of the rest.


Next on our list is to get our tests passing again. You’ll probably hit an error like this when you try to run them after updating your imports.

  ● Test suite failed to run

    Cannot find module 'CoreComponents/Checkbox' from 'some_page/section/subsection/another_subsection/index.js'

    Require stack:

      2 | import PropTypes from 'prop-types';
      3 |
    > 4 | import Checkbox from 'CoreComponents/Checkbox';
        | ^

To fix this we need to go into the jest.config.js file (this can also be done in the package.json file if you have your jest config set up there and the syntax should be close to identical).

In jest.config.js

module.exports = {
    // your settings
    moduleNameMapper: {
        '^CoreComponents/(.*)$': '<rootDir>/core_components/$1',

As you can see this config isn’t quite as nice as the moduleNameMapper setting takes some regex args to complete the paths. Official docs and more information can be found here. After doing that your tests should now run as Jest will have the same mapping to the aliased component as Webpack.


Eslint will also be yelling at you at this point with something like

Unable to resolve path to module

This can be solved with a small library called eslint-import-resolver-alias. Its official NPM page can be found here. Install as a dev dependency with

npm i -D eslint-import-resolver-alias

And you will now have a new option in your .eslintrc.js file.

module.exports = {
    // your other options
    'settings': {
        'import/resolver': {
            'alias': {
                'map': [
                    ['CoreComponents', './core_components'],
            'extensions': ['.js']
    'rules': {
        // your rules

If you have other module file types that need mapping like this, you’ll need to add them to the extensions section. Things like .vue can go there too. In my case I needed to reload VSCode to reflect the updated Eslint rules in my editor (using the VSCode Eslint extension) but after that you should no longer see Eslint errors on imports.


Last up is VSCode and its intellisense hovers. With the old '../../../../../' imports, when you hovered over your import or used that import further down in your code you would get a pop over with information about the module. If you have docstrings and such that would all show up. After aliasing however those will no longer be there as VSCode cant parse the import. VSCode (as far as I know) can’t read Webpack import aliases by default so we also need to inform VSCode about our new alias structure. To do so, if you don’t already have one create a jsconfig.json file in the root of your project. Add the following options

{"compilerOptions": {
    "baseUrl": "./",
    "paths": {
        "CoreComponents/*": ["core_components/*"],
"exclude": ["node_modules", "static/dist"]

Makes sure to put in those exclude options to avoid slowing the application down traversing files it doesn’t need to. Obviously modify the static/dist option to be wherever webpack is building your static files out to. Now check this all worked by hovering over the Checkbox (or whatever your module is you’re working with) in the import import Checkbox from 'CoreComponents/Checkbox';, and you should now see the information about that module populate as before.

Final Thoughts

I don’t like how many duplicated paths are present here. I’ll probably reconsider this a bit and see if I can make some of these paths / names constants in some location in the app and use them in the needed configs. The tricky part is how some of them are formatted a bit different from each other, like jest requiring regex paths. Will update this post if I find a good solution to reduce duplication / files that need to be touched when updating an aliased path.

Happy aliasing.