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How to use 'Nested Layouts' without 'Nested URLs' in Remix


In today's ever-evolving web development sphere, we constantly look for ways to optimize and make our applications more maintainable. If you've been using Remix, you might have wondered, "How can I share layouts among different routes without adding to the URL path?" Well, I've got good news for you. I recently refactored my Remix app to do just that. In this blog post, I'll share a strategy to achieve nested layouts without the nested URLs, also known as "Pathless Routes".

The Problem:

In my previous setup, I rendered a <Header> component directly in the root.tsx. However, as my app evolved, this approach made it harder to manage, especially when dealing with login/logout logic. This complexity made updates challenging and increased the risk of bugs.

The Solution: Pathless Routes

Remix offers a fascinating solution to this: the _leading` underscore. With this, you can group routes under a common layout without adding any extra segments to the URL. It's like giving these routes a shared home without changing their address!

⚠️ The solution I'm sharing is based on Remix v2 Route File Naming. Remix v1 covers this use-case but the way it's done is different. You can read more about it on Remix's docs page.

Here's a basic structure before refactoring:

├── routes/
│   ├── login.tsx
│   ├── register.tsx
│   ├── _index.tsx
│   ├── concerts.$city.tsx
│   └── concerts.tsx
└── root.tsx

Breaking it down (before refactoring):

  • URL / would render /_index.tsx with the layout of root.tsx.
  • URL /login would directly match login.tsx and use the layout from root.tsx since there isn't a specific layout just for it.
  • Similarly, /register directly corresponds to register.tsx, using the root.tsx layout as well.

In the original structure, without the leading underscore (Pathless Routes) approach, each route directly reflects the filename, and all routes lean on the root.tsx for the layout unless specified otherwise.

And here's what the file tree looks like after applying pathless routes:

├── routes/
│   ├── _auth.login.tsx
│   ├── _auth.register.tsx
│   ├── _auth.tsx
│   ├── _index.tsx
│   ├── concerts.$city.tsx
│   └── concerts.tsx
└── root.tsx

Breaking it down (after refactoring with pathless routes):

  • URL / would render _index.tsx with the layout of root.tsx.
  • URL /login would match _auth.login.tsx and take its layout from _auth.tsx.
  • Similarly, /register maps to _auth.register.tsx, also using _auth.tsx as its layout.

By using a _leading underscore, you essentially hide the filename from the URL, giving you the ability to share a layout amongst different routes seamlessly.


  1. Decoupling Logic: By moving shared components like <Header> out of root.tsx, I can keep the login/logout logic isolated, making the codebase cleaner and easier to maintain. Now my root.tsx loader() function is simpler and focused on high-level layout.
  2. Improved Organization: Grouping related routes under a shared layout improves the organization of your project, making it more intuitive for developers.
  3. Flexible URLs: With pathless routes, you get to dictate the URL structure without being tied down by your file or folder naming conventions.

Final Thoughts:

Adopting this pattern has significantly improved the structure and maintainability of my Remix app. The _leading underscore might seem like a small, inconsequential change, but its impact on the project's architecture is substantial.

If you've been struggling with managing shared layouts in Remix or just looking for ways to improve your app's structure, give this method a try. Remember, in the world of web development, it's often the small tweaks that lead to the most significant improvements.

Happy coding 🤓!