Next.js vs. React: Which Framework Is Suitable for Your Application?
When developing an application, choosing the right framework is essential. React and Next.js are two of the most popular frameworks.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
When it comes to developing an application, choosing the right framework is essential. React and Next.js are two of the most popular frameworks of 2023 used to build applications.
Both provide developers with different approaches to development, allowing them to create applications tailored to their needs.
Although they are similar in many ways, there are specific circumstances (or application types) when one is better than the other.
Hence, instead of comparing one to the other the conventional way, we’ll tell you when to use which framework for your application so that your decision-making gets easier.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
What Is Next.js?
It provides all the features needed for building universal apps with an intuitive development experience that works for both server-side and client-side rendering.
Its modern browser support, component-based modular design, and features like automatic code splitting and preloading make it an excellent choice for developing web applications with React.
Popular applications built using Next.js include TikTok, Binance, Ticket Master, etc.
What Is React?
React makes it easy to create dynamic and interactive web applications and mobile apps. It enables developers to build complex UIs using small and isolated pieces of code, making it easier to manage large projects and collaborate with teams.
Popular applications built using React include Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Airbnb, Dropbox, Netflix, and many more.
When to Use Next.js
Here is when you should use Next.js:
To Create Server-Side Rendered React Applications
Using Next.js, developers can build server-side rendered React applications with ease. In a server-side rendered application, the initial content is rendered on the server itself before being sent to the user’s browser. This helps improve loading times and provides an improved user experience.
To create a server-side rendered application with Next.js, first, create a project directory and add the necessary files for your application.
To Make Use of Routing With the Help of URL Paths
Next.js comes with a powerful routing system that allows developers to define routes easily and handle URL paths.
Routing in Next.js is done using the file system and URL paths: each page within the application is stored in its own directory, and when a user visits that page, the route matches with the route specified in the file system.
In addition to this, Next.js also supports dynamic routing using parameters defined in the URL path. This means that you can use variables in your routes to create more complex URLs and patterns.
Finally, Next.js also provides built-in support for custom routes, allowing developers to add custom routing logic to their applications, such as redirects and error pages. This makes it easy to handle common use cases such as 404 errors or redirects from deprecated URLs.
To Easily Share Code Between Pages and Components
Next.js makes it easy for developers to share code between pages and components. It provides built-in features such as code splitting and server-side rendered components that allow developers to reuse code across multiple pages and components easily.
With Next.js, code splitting allows developers to separate a single page into multiple chunks of code, which can be loaded asynchronously when needed. This is useful for optimizing performance, as only the necessary parts of the page will be loaded when requested.
Lastly, Next.js also makes it easy to share data between pages and components through a feature known as “Global Data.” With Global Data, developers can define shared data that will be available on every application page without having to pass it from one page or component to another manually. This makes it easy for developers to ensure their data is consistent across their applications without having to manage it on each page or component individually manually.
When You Need to Optimize for Performance and SEO
Next.js is an excellent choice for optimizing both performance and SEO. The framework makes it easy for developers to optimize for performance by lazy loading components, splitting code into chunks, and pre-rendering pages on the server. This allows developers to ensure that only the necessary parts of the page are loaded when requested, resulting in faster page loads and a better user experience.
Next.js also makes it easy to optimize for SEO by providing a way for developers to generate metadata about their pages which can be used by search engine crawlers when indexing the website. By generating this metadata, crawlers can better understand what each page is about, which improves your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Additionally, Next.js also makes it easy to automate site optimization tasks such as the minification and compression of assets, the generation of HTML snapshots that crawling bots can use, and the generations of sitemap files that are used by search engines to better understand how all pages interconnect. All these features make Next.js an excellent choice if you want to optimize your website for both performance and SEO.
When to Use React
React is a great choice for the following instances:
When Creating Complex, Interactive User Interfaces
React is a great choice when creating complex, interactive user interfaces. This is because it provides an intuitive and powerful way to create components that can be reused throughout a website or app.
Furthermore, React also makes it easy to integrate popular third-party libraries such as Redux and Apollo into your project, allowing you to easily add sophisticated features such as data fetching and state management without having to write custom code. All these features make React an excellent choice for creating complex user interfaces with minimal effort.
When Creating Dynamic Web Applications With Changing Data
React is an excellent choice when creating dynamic web applications with changing data. This is because React provides a powerful way to quickly and efficiently build user interfaces that can update in real-time.
When You Need to Manage Large Amounts of Data
When working with large datasets, React provides a number of benefits to help make the development process easier and more efficient. First, as we’ve discussed earlier, React reduces page load times and ensures that your web application remains responsive even with high volumes of data.
React also makes it easier to manage large datasets by providing an intuitive way of breaking down the data into manageable components. This makes it more painless for developers to track where specific information is stored within their application and how changes made in one part will affect other parts of the system.
Furthermore, React also includes a number of powerful tools for debugging your code and quickly identifying any issues related to managing large datasets.
For example, the DevTools extension can be used to inspect components quickly or track down which piece of data is causing an issue. This helps developers identify problems quickly and efficiently without manually searching through hundreds or thousands of lines of code.
To Build Single Page Application
One of the most popular uses for React is when you need to build single-page applications (SPAs). SPAs are web-based applications that use a single HTML page to render all of their content. As a result, they are much faster and more responsive than traditional web pages because they don’t require multiple requests to the server for each page.
React makes it easy to build SPAs, as it provides a library of components that can be quickly pieced together in order to create a functioning web application.
For example, React’s Router library allows developers to create routes for different application parts easily. This allows users to navigate between different areas without having to reload the entire page every time. React’s Context API can also provide global state management within a SPA, making it easier for developers to keep track of data across different components.
Overall, React is an excellent choice when building single-page applications due to its large library of components and features that make it easy to structure and maintain your SPA while keeping performance high at all times.
When You Need Code Reusability and Data Binding Capabilities
With React, developers can develop components that can be reused in the same or other applications. This helps save time and effort, as much of the coding has already been done. Additionally, React’s use of a virtual DOM (Document Object Model) makes it easy to bind data to HTML elements. This means that an application will automatically update parts of its UI whenever data changes occur.
React can also utilize one-way data binding, allowing for better control over how data flows through a component or application. Using one-way data binding, developers can ensure that no unexpected changes are made and that each component is only updated with the necessary information. This allows for greater assurance when compared to two-way data binding, which would require more care in order to avoid any conflicts or errors due to unintended updates occurring on data values shared between components.
Overall, React is an effective library for developing applications due to its capabilities around code reusability and data binding. Not only does this make development faster, but it also ensures great performance at runtime with minimal risk of breaking code due to conflicting updates between components.
It’s clear that Next.js is great for server-side rendered applications that provide built-in support for CSS and JS.
On the other hand, React should be your top choice when creating complex and interactive user interfaces and single-page applications that utilize a lot of data.
Published at DZone with permission of Nisarg Mehta. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.