NextJS: The Future of the Web?

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[img] NextJS: the future of the web?

What Is NextJS?

NextJS is a lightweight, open source JavaScript framework built on top of React, which allows you to develop very fast and easy-to-use applications and websites.

Although it has a learning curve, even new front-end developers can learn it quickly. It is based on Babel and Node.js, integrating with React to develop applications.

React lists NextJS among its recommended tools, stating that it is a solution for creating server-side rendered websites. React applications can only render their content in the browser, client-side.

In addition, NextJS includes all the features needed to become the leading platform for building modern websites, such as static export, preview mode, pre-rendering, automatic optimisation and faster compilation.

How Does NextJS Work?

NextJS has several advantages mainly related to speed and performance.

React should be combined with NextJS, as it contains features such as: Static Site Generation (SSG), Server Side Rendering (SSR), client side pre-rendering, preview mode, better compile times, etc.

NextJS for Ultra-fast Sites

With NextJS, the server takes care of the rendering process for each page, instead of doing it in the user's browser. As a result, after making a request, the user receives a fully rendered page much faster.

NextJS uses Server Side Rendering (SSR), where HTML is generated on each request to the server, or Static Site Generation (SSG), where HTML is generated during compilation.

By being able to use SSR and SSG interchangeably, NextJS allows pages to be rendered at the time of request or at the time of creation. This flexibility offers great performance for page loading as well as data fetching.

In addition, NextJS allows SSG/SSR to be coupled with Client Side Rendering (CSR), making it a Single Page Application (SPA) as well. This is a very powerful combination to make any complex and highly interactive web application run incredibly fast.

NextJS and Static Websites

These sites consist of HTML web pages stored on a web server. They are the easiest to design and are ideal for small-scale sites.

With NextJS you can render a page at the moment of compilation, just as it will appear in the browser. This makes it possible to deliver all the necessary content on the initial load. Customers are satisfied with the performance of NextJS websites because they are static and therefore faster.

NextJS Image

Why and When to Use NextJS?

React can be used to create the user interface and then adopt NextJS features to solve application requirements for data fetching and integrations. This enhances the developer and user experience with highly dynamic and interactive, high-performance web applications.

With NextJS you can create numerous websites, such as portals, blogs, e-commerce, etc., thanks to:

  • Shorter web page loading time.

  • Adjustable websites, according to the size of the device's screen.

  • NextJS applications and websites work on any device, allowing products and services to be delivered through many channels.

  • Static web pages created with NextJS have no direct access to databases or user data, thus ensuring data security.

NextJS vs React

NextJS is a framework that contains React at its core, while React is a JavaScript library corresponding to the user interface components. Thus, NextJS is used with React to create the user interface and pages of a web application.

When you choose NextJS, it’s because it offers the best solutions for website development and server-side rendering. In addition, it has several tools and functions for easy project management.

On the other hand, React is the best choice for developing user interfaces for single-page applications. Because it works for both web and mobile applications, it allows you to create more intuitive and attractive applications.

Advantages and Disadvantages of NextJS and React

Performance

NextJS applications are extremely fast due to their static site generation and server-side rendering. When the website is loaded, you will be able to quickly see all the changes that have been made.

React does not support server-side rendering by default, although it could be enabled. It is not sufficient for React to support client-side rendering in order to develop a high performance application.

Rapid Development

NextJS offers many integrated libraries and components, allowing you to develop websites in a short time.

On the other hand, because React developers know JavaScript, they can create dynamic applications using less base code.

SEO Compatibility

NextJS allows faster and lighter websites to be developed, and this makes it SEO friendly. As a result, there is a greater chance that the website will be ranked on the first pages of search engines.

React does not have good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) support because it relies on client-side rendering, causing web pages to load less quickly than NextJS.

Configuration

With NextJS everything is configurable. Its templates allow you to configure files such as babelrc, jest.config and eslintrc.

On the other hand, React does not offer a lot of configuration support. Unless you disconnect from the Create React application, you will not be able to change configurations, and must use what is already configured in the Create React read scripts.

Learning

The learning curve for NextJS is somewhat steeper than for React, although both are easy to learn.

Developer Community

React has an amazing community of developers, who are very active and offer solutions in the form of blogs, tutorials, videos, etc.

With NextJS, you have a smaller community, with more discussions in GitHub. However, in the open source world, developers are always active and available.

Experienced Developers

Due to the great popularity of React, developers can easily be found for a project. With NextJS, it will take longer to find experienced developers.

How Do Jamstack and NextJS Integrate?

Jamstack is a new methodology used to create static websites, offering improved performance and security, along with a better experience for developers and users. The following attributes define Jamstack:

  • The frontend uses separate tools from the backend. The frontend is built using a Static Site Generator (SSG), with the backend being integrated through the use of an API used during compilation.

  • Most Jamstack sites are pre-rendered. This means that the frontend was created and compiled into HTML, CSS and JavaScript files. As needed, JavaScript can be inserted into these sites, increasing browser performance.

On the other hand, NextJS has had two major releases in a row, bringing a number of new features that allow you to create Jamstack sites, such as new data fetching methods and incremental static regeneration.

In 2020, NextJS 9.3 introduced the ability to create static websites, so that you could create not only a Server Side Rendering (SSR) application, but also an application generated by a Static Site Generator.

Additionally, from 2021 NextJS 9.4 introduced support for hybrid models, allowing both static and server-side rendering to be used dynamically when required.

Therefore, NextJS became a solution for creating Jamstack sites, because it allows you to define how each page of the application will be rendered. This solves the problem of costly rebuilds that Jamstack applications are prone to, especially when creating an interactive application where user interactions must be rendered quickly.

Is NextJS the Future of the Web?

For someone using React, the natural next step is NextJS, as it has many native features that solve the problems that arise with React.

The latest trends in enterprise web development are quite explicit: optimize the user experience without compromising backend performance.

NextJS makes the web more user-centric by providing a bridge between two traditionally distant areas: web design and web development.

There are many other features in NextJS, such as image optimisation, fast update, debugging, free hosting on Vercel's domain, that make you believe that NextJS is the future of the web.

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