Recursively reading a folder structure in Node.js

Published 2nd Oct, 2020
3 min read

While developing a Electron based markdown editor - similar to Mark Text and Zettlr - to practise using Electron, I came across the need to read the folder structure of a supplied folder to display the files in a sidebar to the user.

I had a google around, however all examples I could find to recursively load in the folder structure (all files in the supplied folder and all sub folders) were returning a flat list of file paths, which for my use case was loosing valuable data about the folder structure.

The best solution I found for loading files recursively was from

const fs = require("fs")
const path = require("path")

const getAllFiles = function(dirPath, arrayOfFiles) {
  files = fs.readdirSync(dirPath)

  arrayOfFiles = arrayOfFiles || []

  files.forEach(function(file) {
    if (fs.statSync(dirPath + "/" + file).isDirectory()) {
      arrayOfFiles = getAllFiles(dirPath + "/" + file, arrayOfFiles)
    } else {
      arrayOfFiles.push(path.join(__dirname, dirPath, "/", file))

  return arrayOfFiles

Their solution ends up returning an array of files. While this is good, for my use case I wanted to retain the folder structure data so I can use it later in the sidebar for functionality such as expand and collapse folders.

I decided to use the following data structure to represent a folder:

let folder = {
    name: "folder",
    path: "/path/to/folder",
    files: [], // A list of file objects (see below)
    children: [], // A list folders objects sharing the same structure.

let file = {
    name: "filename",
    path: "path/to/the/filename"

Just a note, I know that the "name" field on the folder and file object is technically already stored in the path, but I felt it made more sense to process it here once rather than having to work it out on the fly when needed.

I then just had to replace the arrayOfFiles in the above example with my new folder data structure. A few edits - and some extra edits specifically for my project such as the allowed file extensions check - got me the following:

const fs = require("fs")
const path = require("path")

const allowedFileExtensions = [".md"]

function loadDirectoryStructure(directoryPath, parentFolder){
        let files = fs.readdirSync(directoryPath)
        parentFolder = parentFolder || {
            name: path.basename(directoryPath),
            path: directoryPath,
            files: [],
            children: [],

        files.forEach(file => {
            let filePath = directoryPath + path.sep + file
            if (fs.statSync(filePath).isDirectory()) {
            else {
                        name: path.basename(filePath),
                        path: filePath

        return parentFolder

This function can now take a folder path, and will output a folder object that retains the folder structure while you are still able to access all the file and folder paths

I'm not saying that this is the best or only way to achieve this, but it's what I decided to use and it's working for me so far!