Absolute & Relative Imports

Python and TypeScript both have relative and absolute imports.

# Python
# rel
from . import foo
# abs
from project.auth import foo
// TypeScript
// rel
import foo from "./"
// abs
import foo from "project.auth"

Relative imports tend to be a little shorter, but come at the cost of readability.

However, there can be some ambiguity with absolute imports.

Ambiguity with Absolute Imports


With the import from base62 import decode, it isn’t clear if base62 is a module in our project, a third party dependency, or part of the standard library.

We can avoid this ambiguity by ensuring we prefix imports with the top level module of our project, namespacing all of our project imports.

If we named our project gecko, imports from project modules would be as follows:

from gecko.base64 import decode

Assuming our project name is unique enough to not be a common third party dependency, it’s clear to the reader that we are importing from our project.


TypeScript can suffer from similar ambigutity when using absolute imports:

import decode from "base64"

With TypeScript we can configure the paths setting in our tsconfig.json to alias @/ to the root of our project.

Now imports for our project code are more clear since no third party dependency can conflict with @/:

import decode from "@/base64"