Project Root Absolute Imports and Import Maps in Deno#


Deno uses import maps to provide, among many other things, the ability to use project root absolute imports! Also see the WIWG import maps proposal.

The Problem#

Following the documentation linked just above, we have this import map:

$ sed '' ./import-map.json
  "imports": {
    "/": "./",
    "./": "./"

And in our TypeScript files, we have things like:

import { assertEquals } from '/deps.ts'

And we, for example, run the tests with:

$ deno test --import-map=./import-map.json ./src

It works for for Deno but breaks our editors 😭. When we attempt to use an import map to do project root absolute imports, our editors throw a fit thinking we are trying to import something form the root of our file system, not from the root of our project.

Problem in Editor With Project Root Absolute Imports

The catch is that the forward slash / has been used to indicate “root of the file system” on Unix since the Big Bang. And editors have followed suit.

The Solution#

The solution is simple. Instead of using --import-map on the command line, we can add it to the local Deno project configuration.


In vim, with coc-deno we simply do

:CocCommand deno.initializeWorkspace

if you are starting from scratch, or:


to update the config (which lives in .vim/coc-settings.json, by the way).

The name sure it has the line "deno.importMap": "./import-map.json". Mine currently looks like this:

   "deno.enable": true,
   "deno.lint": true,
   "deno.unstable": false,
   "deno.importMap": "./import-map.json",
   "tsserver.enable": false

As soon as you do this (and save the file), the error about the import path should go away.


In VSCode, install the Deno extension and from VSCode command palette run:

Deno: Initialize Workspace Configuration

Again, make sure you have something like "deno.importMap": "./import-map.json" somewhere in .vscode/settings.json. Mine currently looks like this:

   "deno.enable": true,
   "deno.lint": true,
   "deno.unstable": false,
   "deno.importMap": "./import-map.json"