Next.js Introduction: A React Framework

Next.js is a new-age React framework used to create web apps more efficiently and effectively. It fills the gap that React cannot provide.

Next.js extends the functionality of React by providing features such as built-in TypeScript support, middleware support, API support, enabling pre-rendering of pages at build time, server-side rendering, file-based routing, automatic code splitting, enhanced search engine optimization, etc.

Additionally, React can only be used for the frontend but the Next.js framework can also handle backend code, keeping in mind the security of not rendering it on the client side.

Why learn Next.js?

We all know how web development started from static HTML to dynamic content via PHP. Then JavaScript comes into action and gives a better web solution by providing frameworks like React and Angular.

This allowed us to create highly interactive web applications but led to performance issues due to the heavy JavaScript bundles.

Suppose you are creating a single-page website using HTML and CSS, it is easy to read, fast to load and best in SEO. Now if we use React here then the page gets overloaded with JS bundles, and to read it the browser has to first download them, parse them, execute them and then change the DOM to show the actual content. This is very bad in terms of performance and SEO because the client’s load time was high and search engines found it difficult to understand what your page is about.

Here comes Server-Side Rendering (SSR) as a solution, combining the benefits of React with the efficiency of delivering HTML documents to clients. But setting up SSR was a pain in itself and it is time-consuming.

Introducing the final solution: Next.js, a high-level framework that simplifies coding with built-in routing, SSR, and SSG capabilities, improved SEO, automatic optimization, etc.

And that’s not all, there are other features we will discuss later and due to so many qualities and Server-Side Rendering (SSR) capabilities, it is a perfect choice for web development.

Main Features of Next.js

Some of the features of Next.js that make it better than other frameworks are:

  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR): This helps to send fully rendered HTML to the client, increasing the performance and SEO.
  • Static Site Generation (SSG): This helps to generate static HTML at build time for minimal overhead, providing outstanding performance.
  • Automatic Static Optimization: This helps to automatically optimise pages that don’t require server-side rendering, increasing loading times.
  • Built-in API Routes: This helps to create serverless functions as endpoints within your Next.js application, enabling seamless backend integration.
  • File-Based Routing: This helps to create internal application navigation. Next.js uses a file-based routing system where the structure of files in the pages directory works as routes, making creating routes easier than ever.
  • Built-in CSS and Sass Support: This helps to import CSS and Sass files directly into components, making styling more straightforward.
  • Image Optimization: This helps to optimise image components by automatically adjusting sizes and formats, increasing the performance and loading times.
  • Code Splitting and Bundling: This helps to automatically split code to ensure that only necessary JavaScript is loaded on the page, improving loading times.
  • Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR): This helps to update static content without rebuilding the entire site, integrating the advantages of both static sites and dynamic content.
  • TypeScript and Environment Variables Support: TypeScript support helps with type safety and better tooling and environment variable support helps with easy management of configurations.

Use Cases of Next.js

Some use cases of Next.js are:

  • Static Websites: Next.js is best for creating static websites like blog websites, portfolios, single-page advertisement websites, etc where performance and SEO are required.
  • Server-Side Rendered (SSR) Applications: Next.js can be a good choice for creating server-side rendered applications that require frequent data updates or personalized content.
  • E-commerce Platforms: Next.js gives high performance and SEO making it best for e-commerce websites that require both static and server-rendered pages.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS): Integrating Next.js with CMS platforms like Strapi, Contentful, or Sanity can create amazing and advanced front-end interfaces.
  • Single Page Applications (SPAs): Next.js can used to create SPAs with improved performance, better SEO, and the ability to handle dynamic routing easily.
  • Corporate Websites: For big company websites that need high performance, SEO, and interactive UI, Next.js can be a perfect choice.
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs): Next.js can build PWAs for offline capabilities and push notifications.
  • APIs and Microservices: Next.js has built-in API support for creating serverless functions to build lightweight APIs and microservices.

Other use cases can include marketing websites, landing pages, dashboards, admin panels and more.

Learning Curve

Next.js is a high-level framework and is very easy to use, especially for React developers. It simplifies the development process. It is easy to get started, has React-friendly syntax, and has lots of built-in features that make it easy to learn and use.

It is beginner-friendly as it can generate automatic starting code, set up quickly, and even deploy the application without any additional configuration.

Next.js is quite new, but since it is based on React, which is very popular among developers, it is obvious that the resources, documentation, and tutorials on Next.js are good enough to solve your coding problems.

Next.js vs React

Next.js and React are quite related but have different use cases. React is a JavaScript library for creating client-side user interfaces using component-based architecture whereas Next.js is a framework built on top of React, expanding its functionality by adding features like server-side rendering, static site generation, and file-based routing. 

React is specifically used to build frontend applications whereas using Next.js we can build fully-fledged full-stack applications with server-side rendering, routing capabilities, better speed, performance, and more.

*What Next?

Click here to learn how to install and use Next.js, its prerequisites, how to run a Next.js application, and much more.

Summary

If we summarise the whole article into a paragraph, Next.js is a React.js framework that extends its functionality by providing features like built-in TypeScript support, middleware support, API support, pre-rendering of pages at build time, server-side rendering, file-based routing, automatic code splitting, enhanced search engine optimization, etc. It is famous for creating interactive and user-friendly web apps that require fast loading, high performance, and SEO.

Want to know the difference between Next.js and Node.js, check out – Next.js vs Node.js: Which One to Use When

Reference

https://nextjs.org/docs#what-is-nextjs

Aditya Gupta
Aditya Gupta
Articles: 133