The only thing that matters is that you include your files in your HTML with a
What does this really mean? It means:
You’re Doing It RIGHT!
Yup. You’re doing it right, because it doesn’t matter how you do it.
M, V and C Folders
To the best of my knowledge, this folder structure is based on the “models”, “views” and “controllers” folder structure that was popularized by Ruby on Rails. Sure others may have had it first, but it was Rails that made it popular. Other MVC framework followed suit and demanded that you put your controller objects in the controllers folder, your model objects in your models folder, etc. But unless you’re Rails (or another framework that wants to be like Rails), this folder structure is stupid.
I’m pretty sure that Rails uses this folder structure to assume the types of objects that are found within the files. And I know for sure that it uses file names to assume the class that will be defined within the file. That is, when rails sees a file called “/app/controllers/foo_controller.rb”, it expects to find a class called “FooController” and it expects that this class will inherit from some Rails controller base class. If these expectations are not met, errors are thrown to say so.
I understand why Rails does it this way: file and folder based conventions make it easy to assume what a file will contain, and that makes it easy for the runtime to optimize for performance when pre-loading and caching the code contained within the files. This makes sense to me in Rails because the convention is based on good ideas for optimizing the way Rails works and the way it looks for files and how it loads them.
But, unless you’re Rails or another framework that wants to assume certain files in certain folder contain certain code, this is a terrible way to organize files.
The Junk Drawer
With any application that moves beyond a trivial number of files, these content-type, mime-type, code-type and general type-based folder structures turn in to a bloated pile of junk that is very difficult to sift through. Who wants to look at a folder with 20, 50 or 100 files in it, when you only really care about 2, 5 or 10 of those files?
How I Organize Files: By Functionality
I don’t care what “type” is contained in the file. That’s a completely irrelevant way to organize files to me. It makes no sense for me to organize files this way because many of my files contain more than one “type” of object. For example, I often put very simple model, collection and view definitions that are very closely related, in the same file.
Why Type-Based Folders Might Be A Good Idea
To do this, it might make sense to use a convention to retrieve the files. I’ve seen several Backbone apps that use a jQuery selector to load files, as one example of this. When a Backbone view specifies a template as “#my-view-template”, the application’s template manager would make a request to the server to load something along the lines of “/templates/my-view-template.html”.
If you’re trying to organize your templates in a functional area of the application, you’ll have the added overhead of inserting the functional area folder name, such as “/mail/templates/inbox-template.html” for an “Inbox” view in a “mail” app, trying to load an “#inbox-template” jQuery selector as the template to render.
So… there’s at least one possible reason to use a type-based folder. I would still stick the type-based folder name under my functional area, though. I don’t want to mix up the templates between my functional areas of the application, by accident.
A Tradeoff: Folder Names vs File Names
Here’s one potential trade-off for using functional folder names vs type based folder names: you might have to specify the type in the file name. For example, if you have a model type name “Person”, a collection type named “Persons”, and a view to represent a single person or a collection of persons, what do you call that view? If you’re organizing things by type, you can call every “Person” and “Persons”
This can be very confusing. I was recently working with a client who was using an editor that only shows the file name for the open files, and none of the folder path for the files. He ended up with 4 “person.js” files in his open file list. Which one was the Person model, view, router, or controller file? We had to open each file to find the one we needed, every time. So, we took the hit on the file names. The “person.js” file contained the person model, while “persons.js” contained the collection, “personviews.js” contained the view definitions and “personrouter.js” contained the router. Thus, we’ve moved the need for specifying the object type from the folder structure (with all it’s bad ideas for using that) to the file name.
I’ve read at least one blog post that advocated using type-based folder names specifically to avoid the “ugliness” of having type names in your files. I seriously laughed out loud when I read that. Whether the type is in the file name or folder name is a moot point. You’re likely going to end up specifying the type somewhere. I would much rather have it in my file names because it’s easier for me to see things grouped together based on functionality, than based on the type of object contained in a file.
It’s Just An Opinion, And A Loose One At That
My own use of these conventions and ideas is rather loose at this point. I don’t stick strictly to anything, and I mix and match based on the project type, number of files and other constraints that a given project presents. Because, like I said at the top of this egregiously long post, you’re doing it right.