Is Next.js better than React.js?

Is Next.js better than React.js

Is Next.js better than React.js?

Next.js, a web development framework developed by Vercel, offers server-side rendering and static website generation for React-based web applications. The React documentation highlights Next.js as part of the “recommended toolchains” for developers working on server-rendered websites with Node.js. Unlike React apps that render content on the client side, Next.js expands this capability to include server-side rendered applications. Vercel owns the copyright and trademarks for Next.js. Actively oversees its open source development efforts.


Next.js, a React framework, offers functionalities like server-side rendering and the creation of websites. React, a JavaScript library typically utilized for developing web applications rendered in users browsers, poses drawbacks recognized by developers. These include issues with users without JavaScript access or who have disabled it, potential security risks, prolonged page loading times, and negative impacts on search engine optimization. Next.js addresses these concerns by allowing server-side rendering of some or all website content before sending it to the client. It stands out as one of the frameworks for React. Is among the recommended “toolchains” for new app development, providing abstraction layers to simplify common tasks. Initializing Next.js requires Node.js. This can be done through the Node Package Manager.

Google has been actively involved in the development of the Next.js project, making contributions with 43 pull requests in 2019. As of March 2022, this framework was widely adopted by websites such as Walmart, Apple, Nike, Netflix, TikTok, Uber, Lyft, and Starbucks. In 2020, Vercel secured $21 million in Series A funding to enhance the software. The original creator of the framework, Guillermo Rauch, now serves as the CEO of Vercel, while Tim Neutkens leads the project maintenance efforts.

Development history

Next.js made its debut as an open-source project on GitHub on October 25, 2016. It was initially built on six core principles: effortless setup, a JavaScript-centric approach to all functionalities in JavaScript, automated code splitting and server-side rendering, customizable data fetching, predictive request handling, and streamlined deployment processes.

The release of Next.js 2.0 in March 2017 brought about enhancements tailored for the navigation of websites. It also boosted building efficiency. Enhanced the scalability of the hot module replacement feature.

In September 2018, Version 7.0 was unveiled with upgraded error management and support for the Reacts context API to enhance route management. This version also marked the transition to Webpack 4.

February 2019 saw the launch of Version 8.0, which introduced serverless deployment options for applications by splitting code into functions that are executed upon request. Additionally, this version optimizes export time and resource consumption while enhancing prefetch performance.

Announced in March 2020 Version 9.3 brought optimizations along, with Sass and CSS module support.

On July 27, 2020, Next.js version 9.5 was announced with features like static regeneration, rewrites, and redirect support.

By June 15, 2021, Next.js version 11 was launched, with updates such as Webpack 5 support and the introduction of “Next.js Live” for real-time coding. It also included a feature for converting the Create React App to Next.js format.

Next.js version 12 was released on October 26, 2021, bringing enhancements like a Rust compiler for compilation, AVIF support, edge functions and middleware integration, and native ESM & URL imports.

On October 26, 2022, Vercel introduced Next.js version 13 with a beta routing pattern featuring the App Router that supports layouts and React Server Components. Additionally, Vercel unveiled Turbo. A front-end development toolchain includes Turbopack as a successor to Webpack and Turborepo for builds.

May 2023 saw the release of Next.js version 13.4 by Vercel, which included the release of the App Router for production use.

In October of the year 2023, Vercel rolled out Next.js version 14, focusing on memory management using the Edge runtime.

Styling and features

Next.js offers options for styling, including CSS, precompiled Scss and Sass CSS in JS and styled JSX. It also comes with TypeScript support and efficient bundling. The code is. Compiled into JavaScript using the SWC open source transpiler for browser usability. While Webpack was traditionally used for bundling modules, it is now being replaced by TurboPack. These tools are commonly utilized through npm in a terminal.

A key feature of Next.js is its utilization of server-side rendering to lessen the load on web browsers and enhance security (source needed). This can be applied to parts of the application or the entire system, enabling content pages to benefit from server-side rendering. It can also be implemented solely for first-time visitors to lessen the load on browsers that haven’t cached any site assets yet. The “reloading” function detects changes in time and updates relevant pages without requiring a server restart. This enables the reflection of code changes in the browser, although some browsers may need a refresh.

The program utilizes page-based routing to make it easier for developers and incorporates routing support. It also offers features like hot module replacement for module updates, automatic code splitting to include essential code, page loading, and page prefetching to speed up load times.

Next.js also offers incremental static regeneration and static site generation. During the build process, a compiled version of the website is created. Stored in folder. When a user requests access, pre-built static HTML pages are retrieved from the cache. Delivered to them, resulting in loading times. However, this approach may not be ideal for all websites that’re interactive, frequently updated, and rely heavily on user input.

Next.js vs. React

React, introduced in 2013, has been longer than Next.js. However, Next.js, which came out in 2016, is gaining traction and popularity. It has over 113K GitHub stars as of October 2023. Receives millions of npm downloads. Let’s delve into a comparison of performance between Next.js and React to understand when it’s best to use each framework.

  • Development speed: Next.js offers built-in functions that simplify the process of creating a React application. The recent integration of its compiler in Next.js 12 has also enhanced the speed of builds within the framework. In contrast to React Next.js, it decreases the waiting time for developers when refreshing code, thus reducing frustrations and delays in development.
  • Data fetching and load times: Next.js has the ability to navigate through the React tree and retrieve data on the server, which enables pre-loading of page data. This frequently leads to faster loading times for applications using Next.js as opposed to those built with React.
  • Rendering and SEO: Next.JS provides rendering functionality, while React relies on client-side rendering. Pre-rendered pages support SEO tactics that can be difficult to implement in a React application.
  • Routing: Next.js comes with a file system for routing, making it easier to set up and pages compared to the multiple library choices in React, such as React Router.

React is a tool that caters to various types of projects effectively, such as user interfaces, backend applications, internal tools for organizations, and systems for visualizing data. Next.js is a companion for improving React apps that require rendering capabilities, like online stores, social networking platforms, ticket booking systems, and educational websites. Let’s delve deeper into its applications to help you decide whether Next.js is the right choice for your project.

Rendering in Next.js

When you use React, the browser converts the code into HTML for displaying the user interface on a webpage. Next.js offers three ways to render—client-side rendering (CSR), server-side rendering (SSR), and static site generation (SSG)—along with regeneration (ISR) as an extra benefit. ISR combines SSR with a caching method that reduces server load and provides speed to sites.

Server-side rendering and static site generation are part of pre-rendering, where HTML pages are created before being sent to the client side. Next.js stands out for its support for rendering React applications.

Client-side Rendering

In vanilla React applications, client-side rendering is the approach. This means that the HTML for the page is created in the user’s browser through JavaScript. The user interface becomes visible once the rendering process is finished (the webpage is “hydrated”). Next.js components can also utilize client-side rendering with React’s useEffect or useSWR functionalities.

Server-side Rendering

Next.js also allows for the creation of HTML pages on the server. This means that the HTML generated is sent to the client, allowing the webpage’s user interface to display before hydration. Subsequently, once the client completes initializing the JavaScript, users can interact with the loaded webpage.

For pages requiring server-side rendering in Next.js, we include configuration functions on those pages.

Static Site Generation

Next.js also provides the option for generating websites, where all the static HTML pages are created from JavaScript during the building process. Building a site from a React code base may take more time upfront compared to building a React single-page application. However, the benefit lies in having content that can be delivered and stored at the fastest possible speed without the computational burden of server-side rendering.

In Next.js, we can implement static site generation (SSG) for pages by using functions like getStaticProps() and getStaticPaths() with the defining routes for pages.

Next.js Search Engine Optimization

Next.js is known for its performance and capability to pre-render all website pages, enabling search engines to crawl and index the site, thereby enhancing its SEO. SEO plays a role for businesses and websites, as those with superior SEO tend to rank higher in search engine results. Websites that rank higher typically attract user clicks, with the ranked result boasting an average click-through rate of 27.6%, significantly higher than the tenth-ranked result’s click-through rate of 2.4%.

React websites with large amounts of content—and the resultant JavaScript code used for rendering—face SEO challenges when dealing with Google crawling and indexing.

The ability of Next.js to easily perform server-side rendering (SSR) not only enhances SEO rankings but also improves a website’s perceived and actual load time for an optimal user experience.


There are many factors to consider before choosing a framework for your next website. Though Next.js is more opinionated and less flexible than React, the framework offers great out-of-the-box functionality for advanced projects targeting SEO or pre-rendering capabilities. With the foundations of Next.js in your toolkit, you can supercharge your site and get an edge over vanilla React applications.

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