Next JS vs React: The 2022 Comparison

Next JS vs React: The 2022 Comparison

The number of frameworks and libraries available on the market today can certainly make some developers question their choices. However, we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll dive into the clash of Next JS vs React, their benefits and downsides, and more!

What is Next JS?

What is Next JS?
Next JS vs React: Next JS

Having its initial release in 2016, Next JS has since become a widely used framework in the web development world. But how to describe what Next JS is plain and simple? The easiest definition of it would be that it’s a React framework with which developers can create single-page, JavaScript web applications.

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!

Advantages

SEO-Friendly

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).

Performance

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).

Reduced Time-to-Market

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.

TypeScript

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.

Disadvantages

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

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.

Small Community

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?

What is React
Next JS vs React: React

React is widely known as the most popular JavaScript framework available on the market (over 40% of respondents to the Stack Overflow survey admitted to using React). Truth be told, calling React a framework is kind of misleading. In reality, it is an open-source JavaScript library, not a framework. But hey, we’re not here to change the way it’s perceived!

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.

Advantages

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.

Community

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!

Reusable Components

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.

Virtual DOM

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.

Redux

Redux is a JavaScript library that’s often used with other libraries or frameworks (in this case, React). It was released in 2015 by Dan Abramov and Andrew Clark. With the help of the library, developers can manage the application state or create user interfaces. Using Redux can significantly influence your development process. For example, state management patterns, faster development, more stability, or the ability to run in various environments. To use Redux with React, make sure that you get the React Redux tool that allows the binding of both of these libraries.

Disadvantages

JSX

JSX is a JavaScript extension that is responsible for making the code cleaner and more readable. So why is it a con? Well, that’s because it mixes up both JavaScript and HTML, resulting in a steeper learning curve that some developers might not like. However, there’s also good news. JSX is optional, so you won’t have to worry about that if you’re one of the people who are not interested in it.

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.

View Layer

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.

Next JS

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.

React

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.

Conclusions

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.

Next JSReact
SEOFriendlyNot-friendly
CommunitySmall to MediumLarge
Learning CurveEasy to learnSteeper compared to Next
LanguageJavaScript/TypeScriptJavaScript/TypeScript
PerformanceFaster than ReactSlower than Next
MaintenanceEasy to maintainA lot of updates that require developers to stay up-to-date
Next JS vs React: A comparison Table

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