Circular Dependencies in Node

It’s inevitable: you will have circular dependencies at some point in your project.

Unfortunately, I’ve had this issue time & time again and didn’t quite realize why it was happening until recently.

The Problem

When a file is required in Node, its module.exports is immediately defined as an empty {}.

Most of my code was written like so, where I exported my object at the end of the file:

// my-factory.js
var factoryFeatures = require('./features');

var MyFactory = function(deps) {
}; = function(specs) {
  // Create something from the provided specs using
  // the required `factoryFeatures`.

module.exports = MyFactory;

The moment one of my dependencies (say, via line #2) attempted to require('../my-factory'), it would get a reference to that empty {}.

But, everything goes off the rails during runtime because, on line #15, I’ve overridden {} with MyFactory!

The Solution

Add methods/factories onto the initial {} so references are never overwritten:

// my-factory.js

// Notice how the function is exported as an additional {} property
module.exports.factory = MyFactory;

This way, at runtime, factory is available via the original module.exports reference.

Now all circular dependencies are referencing the same object from the first require to the last!