Next.js vs. Express.js: What Are the Differences?
In this article, discover the differences between Next.js and Express.js, including their features, pros, cons, and use cases.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Express.js and Next.js are the most advanced frameworks available for web development, and thus, we would like to highlight the features, pros, and cons of both frameworks to help businesses make a better choice.
What Is a Framework?
Frameworks are building blocks, also called predefined codes, that developers use for designing software or applications. The codes render instructions to solve problems and modify the basic features to attain output with desired components.
What Is Next.js?
Most businesses prefer using open-source web frameworks, and this is why Next.js has become immensely popular since it also offers the freedom to add functions like server-side rendering and static web generations to make app development feasible for both mobile and web.
The codes are written via React, which makes it easy to configure client and server-side applications without complex configurations.
Key Features of Next.js
- Next.js allows interoperability, which means that systems can connect with each other readily and exchange crucial information as the ES6 support system sustains it.
- The framework downloads important codes for web pages that make loading quick: a goal that every business aims at.
- Next.js is based on Hot Module Replacement, which allows making desired changes in a running app; thus, the developer does not need to reload the app again, saving a lot of time and effort.
- Server-side rendering is a feature that allows loading content faster on the server.
- The framework converts files saved on the HTML server quickly to the client’s HTML page.
Pros and Cons of Next.js
- The framework makes app building easier since it uses typescript.
- An app developed using Next.js ensures data security.
- The framework allows businesses to deliver the best user experience with engaging and useful applications.
- Static site generation feature allows compilation and rendering of web pages at build time.
- Allows clients to navigate through pages smoothly, elevating the experience.
- Developers are able to avail a limited number of plugins with this framework.
- The organization needs to have an in-house team to develop and manage the app.
- Requires downloading state manager apps like MobX or Redux due to the absence of an in-built state manager.
- Static web development also means a longer duration for development.
- Developers who use Next.js have to design the front-end pages of the application themselves since these aren’t included in the framework.
When To Use Next.js?
The Next.js framework is the best option when you need to develop an application that supports server-side rendering. Developers can design apps with a combination of static as well as dynamic pages. Here are some products where Next.js proves to be useful:
- Single web pages.
- JAMstack websites
- SaaS apps
- Interactive UI
- Web portals
- E-commerce websites
What Is Express.js?
Express.js is also an open-source framework that developers use extensively for designing APIs and web applications. It runs on Node.js and allows the building of modern, feature-loaded apps on the client and server side. The salient feature of this framework is that developers can use it in combination with other frameworks, rendering the best-in-class development solutions.
Key Features of Express.js
- The framework allows code execution before the client receives the response or before the route handler gets the HTTP request.
- The framework has Google V8 support, which makes it scalable and reliable for real-time app features.
- Express.js renders scalable data management systems via MEAN stack.
- An application developed using this framework has high-end data protection.
Pros and Cons of Express.js
Express.js as a framework is being adopted across various industries for developing applications to improve business outputs. Here are some major pros and cons associated with it:
- Presence of middleware for decision-making.
- Compatibility with databases like MongoDB, Redis, MySQL, etc.
- Flexible and convenient for developers.
- Easy integration via the usage of templates like Jade, Vash, Jade, and more.
- Developers can use the same language for server and mobile app development.
- Complexity of codes
- Difficult to use for beginner developers.
- Ineffective error reports make debugging harder.
- Continuous patching is required to handle security lapses.
- Falls short of the synchronized call-back function.
When To Use Express.js?
Express.js can be used to develop mobile and web applications according to business needs. Developers can design multi-page, single-page, or hybrid web apps with desired features. Unlike Next.js, the Express.js framework has a function that supports top-layer design, making routes and server management easy.
What Are the Differences Between Express.js and Next.js?
Even though developers use both frameworks for designing web and mobile applications, there is a difference between next.js and express.js, which cater to different business needs. Below are the main differences that a developer should be aware of so that he chooses one according to the app that needs to be designed.
- Difference in routing process: Express matches URLs via regular expressions and Next map URLs as objects to handlers.
- The difference in the interface: Express uses callback-based API with additional functions like middleware. On the other hand, Next uses pages rendered on the server side.
- Plugin usage: Next.js uses external tools, while Express.js allows developers to use Gateway plugins via event subscription.
- Speed: Express.js is faster than Next.js as it uses minimalist functions and tools, while Next makes use of static destinations.
- Scalability: Express is flexible and can be easily scaled to design larger applications with several pages. Next, it can be used to design multiple pages.
Express.js vs. Next.js: Which One Should You Choose?
Thus, there is no good or bad framework, as the choice completely depends on project requirements and the developer’s expertise. It is essential to evaluate the project goals before picking up a framework so that there are no irregularities in the output.
With this comprehensive Next.js vs. Express.js comparison, we aim to share crucial information with budding developers who have limited knowledge and exposure to the technology world and desire to deliver the best results without any error.
A wrong framework selection would only lead to ineffective app development. Switching to another framework after completing a project because the result wasn’t up to the mark consumes time, money, and effort, which would only have a negative impact on a business.
1. Which Is Best: Express.js or Next.js?
It is not possible to rate one framework better than the other since each caters to specific project requirements. Express.js is a flexible and fast platform that is used for building server-side applications or APIs. It has a large and experienced developer community that renders support whenever a professional is stuck with a task. There are additional plugins that make app development easy and quick. On the other hand, Next.js is appropriate for SEO optimization, automatic code splitting, or designing static web pages.
2. Can Next.js Replace Express?
Next.js cannot replace Express since each of these frameworks has a specific set of functions that helps in designing different project types. Express is based on Node.js, and developers extensively use it for API and server-side designing. Next.js works on the React framework and is appropriate for SEO optimization and static websites.
3. Is Next.js Better Than Express.js?
Developers select a framework based on the type of application to be developed, and hence, no particular platform can be termed to be better than others. The functions of both frameworks are different, which directly affects the output. For front-end development assignments, Next.js is the best choice, and for back-end development, Express.js is a practical alternative.
4. Is Express.js a Front-End or Back-End Framework?
Express.js is primarily a back-end framework that uses Node.js for designing server-side applications and API; however, it is not compatible with handling static webpages and SEO optimization, a crucial aspect of the front-end framework for which it depends on Next.js.
5. What Is the Difference Between Next.js and Express.js?
The major difference between Express.js and Next.js is the type of development projects that developers use them for since these cater to two different categories. The highlights of Next.js are that it is based on React and a preferred framework for server-side app designing and static webpages for web and mobile. Express.js, on the other hand, is more popular amongst developers who design web apps and APIs.
6. Can I Use Next.js for Back-End Development?
Next.js is not a suitable choice for back-end development, and hence, developers should consider Express.js for such business projects. The Next.js framework facilitates front-end project designing like webpages that are static in nature and simple yet functional server-side applications.
7. Is Express.js an Ideal Choice for Creating an API?
Express.js allows developers and designers to write server-side applications and APIs by handling requests and responses via communication between server and client. This system allows for seamless incorporation of external add-ons and interfaces, making it a breeze to merge with other operations.
8. How Does Next.js Compare to Express.js?
9. In Which Cases Would You Choose Next.js Over Express.js?
Developers who have projects that demand SEO optimizations, dashboard designing, web portal development, JAMstack websites, and other static site development tasks should prefer Next.js over Express.js. Expanding your horizons with Next, a splendid tool for server-side illustration rooted in React, requires no profound comprehension — making it an appealing choice. Hence, beginners can easily understand and adapt this framework to offer the best output with the least effort.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.