What is Next JS?
Created by Vercel, Next JS is designed to take care of all the tools and configurations that developers may require for React. What’s more, with the help of the framework, developers can build apps that use server-side rendering.
Let’s also find out what the creator of Next JS had to say about the framework:
“We decided to create an open-source framework called Next.js, which brings all the benefits of React to the table. (…) But on top of that, we built an entire ecosystem of tools, workflows, and a global CDN, such that you can not only create your front-end but deploy it in such a way that is as fast as possible to the end-user.”
When it comes to comparing the two — Next JS vs React, it’s really difficult to do so since Next JS is a React framework and React is a library. That being said, we think that a proper listing of the pros and cons of both of these technologies will work best. Let’s get to it!
Nowadays, React can actually be SEO-friendly, but how about Next JS? Well, it’s even more friendly! In React, whenever a user clicks on a different page, it is mounted separately in the browser. And it all happens on the client-side. That, unfortunately, results in the lack of ability for web crawlers to index the page correctly.
The case is different with Next JS. Due to server-side rendering, applications built with the help of the framework can be indexed more efficiently, resulting in better visibility in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Applications developed with the help of Next JS prove to be fast and efficient, all thanks to static generation, code splitting, and server-side rendering. What’s more, with the Next 10 update, the framework received a feature called image optimization that made the performance of a web app even faster.
Easy Learning Curve
When we take both React and Next and take a look at their complexity, we will notice that the latter is easier, at least when it comes to coding. It features less code and it’s easier to implement (once the page is done, you have to link it to the component in the header).
Easier coding, faster development, and great performance — all of these factors result in reduced time-to-market rate. In fact, Next JS can be a great choice when it comes to developing the MVP.
In addition to all the benefits of using Next JS, the framework also supports TypeScript. Thanks to that, developers can build a variety of different things, including APIs, Pages, and others with a zero-configuration TypeScript set-up.
Lack of Knowledge
We’ve got unfortunate news for those who got their hopes up while reading all the advantages above. Next JS is React’s framework, so in order to use it — well — you have to learn React first or at least its basics. Without the proper knowledge of the basics beforehand, you risk getting stuck in development.
Routing is yet another noticeable disadvantage of Next. The framework features a file-based router and supports dynamic routing only to some extent resulting in a more complicated setup which may not be enough for some projects. Of course, you can make dynamic routing possible, but for that, you’ll need additional help from — for example — the NodeJS server.
Compared to React, Next features a rather small community. That doesn’t — by any means — forbid you from using the framework! In fact, is indeed smaller than that of React, but it’s growing steadily day by day. After all, the more people using the framework, the easier it is to find answers to your burning questions.
What is React?
So how did React come to be?
In 2011, Jordan Walke created React, but it wasn’t available to the public until the year 2013. Since then, the library’s popularity has increased dramatically. After all, it’s a library of choice for almost 10 million users! Well, as you can see — the numbers do speak for themselves. Despite being released almost a decade ago, React is maintained by developers from Meta (Facebook) to this day.
The reason for such a choice is that React allows developers to achieve a variety of different things — for example — single-page applications, interactive user interfaces, web apps, and more. The library also includes useful features such as virtual DOM or JSX. Additionally, the most popular examples of React apps would include Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, or Netflix.
Easy to Learn
Yes, we have mentioned a similar paragraph in the advantages of Next JS, but does it mean we can’t do it here? Certainly not. Similar to Next JS, React also features an easy learning curve when compared to other libraries or frameworks. With reusable components, a relatively easy learning process, and versatility, the library is chosen by many international companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox, and many, many others.
One-Way Data Flow
Contrary to most other frameworks, React features a one-way data flow, instead of a two-way one. But what does it mean? Essentially, one-way data flow means that it doesn’t have to get updated every time a change is made (just like it is with two-way data flow). Thanks to it, particular sections that have been changed don’t influence the structure of the entire application, i.e., changes in child components don’t influence parent data.
In Next JS, the community was at a slight disadvantage when compared to React, but for the library? Well, it’s definitely an upside! There are so many articles, web development blogs, YouTube videos, tutorials, and other publications centered around React that you shouldn’t find yourself lost and stuck during the development. A strong user community, that’s for sure!
React — most likely — wouldn’t be as popular as it is today without reusable components. They’re one of the factors that are responsible for making the entire development process much easier and smoother. Essentially, reusable components are “parts” of the code that developers can reuse in other parts of the application or even in future projects, without the need for writing the code from scratch.
There would be no React (or at least it wouldn’t be as popular as it is today) without the Virtual DOM (Document Object Model). With its help, developers can build fast applications that are up to modern standards as it is responsible for the speed and performance of React.
But what is Virtual DOM? In simple terms, it’s a virtual representation of the document object model and the DOM itself is a tree structure of XML or HTML documents. Thanks to it, developers can update even the tiniest components of the application without worrying that it would change the entire app.
React Developer Tools
Fortunately enough, despite not having all the tools it needs, React is supported by the React Developer Tools. It’s a browser extension that you can use with browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. And you shouldn’t worry about them being outdated! They are used by over 3 million developers and are constantly updated to meet modern demands!
Create React App
Yet another feature that influences React’s popularity is the Create React App. It’s a tool developed by Facebook that aims to help users — as the name suggests — create React applications. It includes functionalities such as instant reload, only one dependency, and more! In addition to that, Create React App is actually easy to maintain, making it a very desirable choice.
High Number of Updates and Lack of Documentation
Due to a high number of updates, there is simply no time to release proper documentation. That — unfortunately — leaves developers with a rather difficult choice of writing their own documentation or finding ones that were written by other users.
The latter option may seem like a great choice, right?. After all, you don’t have to spend time writing your own documentation. But is it really that great? Trusting the notes of other developers may prove to be efficient, but you may also stumble upon sparse text guides that are either faulty or incomplete.
The amount of updates, however, is a good thing — obviously. But some React developers may grow irritated when upon each update, they have to relearn React or at least some of its parts. Well, I believe most of us can relate to such situations.
You may also read about the react latest version on our blog.
It may come as a surprise, but React only works with a view layer of the MVC model (Model-View-Controller) of web and mobile apps. In order to finish the application, developers have to rely on other tools.
Next JS vs React: When to Use Them?
A direct comparison of Next JS vs React wouldn’t make much sense due to the fact that Next is built on top of React, therefore, it’s not its competitor. That’s why — as you can see above — we decided to list their pros and cons. Now, let’s think about when developers should use them.
If you still hesitate about when you should use Next JS, we’re here to clear all the confusion. That being said, let’s list the situations where you should use the framework to your advantage.
- If you’re planning on creating a web application with server-side rendering;
- If you already have the knowledge about React, but you’re looking for more functionalities;
- Whenever you plan on building a static site;
- Lastly, if you want to build an MVP and reduce time-to-market, Next JS should be your go-to framework.
Now that we know when to use Next JS, it’s time to think about a development project where using React would be the right choice.
- If you want to build a React project — that is — user interfaces, single-page applications, web apps, and more;
- If you want to be a part of the strong and active community that React certainly has;
- If you already know JSX or you’re willing to learn how it operates;
- If you’re planning on building more than one app and reusing the components.
We’re nearing the end of our Next JS vs React article, so it’s time to sum up everything that we’ve learned so far. And what a better way to do so than a comparison table! Without further ado, let’s take a look.
|Community||Small to Medium||Large|
|Learning Curve||Easy to learn||Steeper compared to Next|
|Performance||Faster than React||Slower than Next|
|Maintenance||Easy to maintain||A lot of updates that require developers to stay up-to-date|