File-Based vs. Directory-Based Routing: Understanding the Difference

I don’t know who did it, and why everyone is suddenly confused by this. What you are calling file-based routing is not what you claim. I will gladly explain.

I am going to use Next.js as an example:

File Based

This is file-based routing:

└── pages/
    ├── index.js
    ├── about.js
    └── contact.js

In the folder that defines your pages, if you are able to create a file in there and it automatically becomes a page (contact, about, services etc) that is file based routing.

File-based routing is a routing where the entry point to your routes is an index file. What that mean is the same way you can have a contact.jsx , you could also make a contact/index.js and these two would do exactly the same with little to no issues.

Frameworks that employ this:

  • Astro
  • Eleventy
  • Nextjs (with pages)s
  • Vue
  • Svelte

Directory Based

This is directory based routing

└── app/
    ├── page.js
    ├── about/
    │   └── page.js
    └── contact/
        └── page.js

With this way, there is a defined method of creating new pages i.e a folder with the file name and a special file within it.

When using this way, anything that does not follow this pattern is not regarded a page.

Frameworks that use this

  • Nextjs (with app)
  • SvleteKit

A Table To Know What You Are Using

Ask File-Based Routing Directory-Based Routing
Can I make a file name as a route and it works? Yes No
Can I create a folder with an index file and that will become the page? Yes No
Do I have a special naming convention for pages? No Yes

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