What is Next.js?
Launched in 2016 by Vercel, NextJS is a React framework for web app building. It's recognizable for being user-friendly and speeding up development processes. NextJS tackles the tooling and configuration the React library needs. Also, it has some extra features.
What is Next.js used for?
NextJS can build many different digital products. These include webpages and Jamstack websites. Further, it applies to interactive user interfaces, e-commerce websites, static pages, and dashboards. While it's possible to make SPAs with NextJS, it’s often chosen to avoid SPAs altogether. Frequently, this happens due to their slow First Contentful Paint and SEO performance. Many ventures in various industries use NextJS in their projects. These fields include tech, e-commerce, marketing, news, and finance. Along the companies using it, there is TikTok, Hulu, Twitch, and Starbucks.
How does Next.js work?
React apps are usually client-side. This approach has a couple of downsides. Often, content needs to be reliably indexed by search engines and social media bots. Plus, it takes longer to get to the First Contentful Paint. NextJS makes it possible to render the content in advance in a server, which solves these issues. NextJS also provides its router and allows you to render your pages at build time with pre-rendering. Pre-rendering can take the form of static generation for sites that don’t change often. Also, it can do server-side rendering for websites where data changes regularly. There is also incremental static regeneration. This procedure is a midpoint between static generation and server-side rendering.
NextJS default folder structure includes the pages, public, and styles folders. Pages are React components, and each file in this folder corresponds to a web page. NextJS includes pre-created custom pages. You’ll be able to spot them as they have easy prefixes with underscores.
Pre-rendering happens when external data is fetched. Also, when the React components translate into HTML on the server. All this occurs before the user receives the page content. NextJS renders every page in advance on the server. Yet, it's possible to opt-out of pre-rendering using the client-side data fetching options. The main difference is that initial rendering takes place on the user's device. NextJS pre-rendering applies to Static Generation (SG) and Server-Side Rendering (SSR). These two pre-rendering forms fetch data in different ways. Let's take a look at them!
1. Server-Side Rendering. Here, the HTML is generated on the server for each request.
2. Static Generation. Static generation does happen on the server. But, more specifically, only once at build time. This procedure means the HTML is ready to be sent without further processing. This rendering method translates into a faster loading time.
3. Incremental Static Regeneration. Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) updates or creates content at runtime. With it, you don’t have to rebuild the site with every update.
Pros and Cons of Next.js
The advantages of using NextJS for your next web project outweigh the disadvantages. You’ll find a list of pros and cons below that prove our point.
1. Good Performance. You only need to download the NodeJS environment and run some scripts to start with NextJS. It’s also available for every platform (Windows, Mac, and Linux). Moreover, code-splitting and client-side navigation mean NextJS has outstanding performance.
2. SEO Purposes. Static pages, like those generated with NextJS, are easier to index for SEO purposes. They also rank higher than dynamically generated web pages. In turn, NextJS sites will drive more traffic.
3. Cross-Platform. Websites and apps created with NextJS are available on any device. This availability encloses Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Plus, it applies to iOS and Android for mobile.
4. Faster Development. NextJS includes various ready-to-use components that reduce time-to-market.
5. Hot Module Reloading. With HMR, changes can reload in an application while running without losing the state.
6. Great Support. The popularity of NextJS has been overgrowing. It is in 9th place among the most popular web techs for developers. Its flourishing community means there are more and more contributors to the framework. This backing translates into resources for any issue.
1. Maintenance Costs. Although Next.js is highly flexible, it requires continuous management. You’ll need a dedicated developer to install changes and updates to your site or app.
2. Debugging Errors. Next has a unique way of handling errors that may make them difficult to solve.
3. No State Manager. NextJS does not have an in-built state manager., but you can add one like Redux.
4. Lack of Plugins. NextJS lacks the vast array of other frameworks' easy-to-adapt plugins.
Is Next.js Open Source?
Yes, NextJS is open-source and free to use under the MIT license.
Is Next.js Front or Back-end?
NextJS is technically a front-end framework. But, it has included some back-end features over the years. These include API routes and middleware.
Does Next.js use Express?
Express is a web framework designed for Node.js. Next does not need to use Express, but the combination has some benefits. One of the main benefits is enabling an existing Express API server. Also, there's running Express middleware and adding WebSocket functionality.
When Should I not use NextJS?
NextJS is a great tool, but there are some situations in which it is not recommended. One of these is if you have an existing codebase and are not ready for major refactoring and testing. Another reason not to use NextJS is if you are a fan of CDNs, as these are tricky to use with NextJS. You should also avoid the framework if you work with a conventional single HTML file.
Next.js vs. Node.js
Like NextJS, NodeJS is open-source, cross-platform, fast, and scalable. NodeJS offers improved developer productivity and satisfaction and reduced development costs. It also provides an easy learning curve and a large community. Rather than opposites, NextJS and NodeJS are complementary. You can use Node.js for back end of a Next.js app, and also use custom Node.js servers.
Next.js vs. React
Thus, the question is not how the two tools compare but whether NextJS is the best tool for your React project. We can say that React and NextJS complement each other. While React adds a large community, NextJS brings SEO benefits and fast performance.
What Are Next.js 13 Features?
NextJS 13 was launched in October 2022. The new version adds many great features intending to be "dynamic without limits." We'll give you an overview of the updates below.
1. Customization. There are extensive improvements to image components. Also, there's a new font system for typeface customization. Finally, it includes an instant generation of dynamic social cards.
2. Turbopack. NextJS 13 introduces Webpack’s successor: Turbopack. The asset bundler is over 700 times faster than Webpack and ten times faster than Vite. It uses Rust for building, and it supports React Server Components.
3. Layouts. NextJS 13 introduces a redesigned approach to layouts. Its new app/ directory helps lay out complex interfaces. You can now also nest layouts and colocate app code with your routes.
4. Analytics. Vercel acquired the Splitbee platform. This feature expands its first-party analytics for the web.
5. New Router. NextJS introduced a new router to introduce the app directory. This router will coexist with the old pages directory. Y
6. Streaming. The app/ directory means you can progressively render units of the UI. Further, you can stream them incrementally to the client.
7. React Server Components. The new version includes default React Server Components. These help build complex interfaces and reduce the amount of JS sent to the client, so pages load faster. Other updates included building UIs using files and middleware API updates.
NextJS is an incredible framework with many benefits. It works brilliantly with React and has made a lot of headway with dynamic web pages. We hope to have given you a broad overview of the JS framework and its perks.