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Next.js vs React: Which One Is Better for Your Project?

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15/11/2022 |

6 min read

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The decision on choosing one web development technology over another may have grave consequences but in the case of the Next.js vs React opposition it’s not necessarily an issue. That’s because they often belong to one tech stack and, more importantly, Next.js is built on top of React, so using the former without the latter is simply impossible.

How do they complement each other? 

In brief, React library is used by the Next.js framework, and the latter enhances React-based web applications. What Next.js does is enrich React apps that can normally offer client-side rendering only, with the possibility of server-side rendering. Also, Next.js offers a file-based routing out of the box, so we don’t have to use extra tools like React Router.

In this article, we’ll put both React and Next.js in the limelight, paying special attention not only to their features but also to circumstances, and use cases when they turn out to be advantageous. Also, we’ll shed some light on the React vs Next.js comparison, focusing on certain interdependencies between the two.

 

Table of contents:

  1. Next.js in short
  2. React in a nutshell
  3. Next.js vs React – a brief comparison

Next.js in short

Next.js (a.k.a. NextJS) is an open-source web development framework written in JavaScript, TypeScript, and Rust, and was initially released in 2016. Next.js component library is a popular and lightweight technology, chosen in a variety of circumstances and use cases.

Its most notable applications include server-side rendering and static site generation. One of the features that make Next.js stand out is its event-driven nature and the ability to build highly-performant real-time applications.

Next.js – key features

Some of its most notable features and powers include:

  • hybrid static and server rendering
  • easy scalability
  • ability to handle huge traffic, with millions of active users daily
  • smart bundling
  • route prefetching
  • improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • fast compilation
  • extensive documentation
  • built-in CSS support
  • offline support
  • image and font optimization
  • automatic code splitting
  • integrated ESLint, TypeScript support

Common Next.js use cases

Next.js is perfect for immensely popular, huge websites with millions of users, as well as big e-commerce platforms, but it can be very beneficial in many other use cases, such as web applications that offer two-way connections and push notifications and handle heavy input-output operations.

Some common Next.js use cases include building:

  • static sites and applications
  • large multi-user websites
  • real-time chat applications
  • real-time collaboration tools
  • B2B and SaaS websites
  • e-commerce platforms
  • multi-user websites
  • complex single-page apps
  • streaming web apps

Next.js is appreciated and used by many worldwide giants and household names, including Apple, TikTok, Starbucks, Uber, Netflix, Marvel, and Nike. Large multi-page websites are often created with this framework. Interestingly, Codete’s website was built in Next.js, too.

React in a nutshell

React (also known as ReactJS or React.js) is a vast open-source JavaScript library meant for front-end applications, with building awesome user interfaces for single-page applications topping the list. Its hallmark is reusable components that make React developers' work more time-efficient and smarter and React coding style – more consistent.

This huge advantage makes the React front-end framework belong to the most popular web frameworks and technologies out there. As Stack Overflow 2022 Developer Survey indicated, as many as 42.62% of developers use React.js, while Next.js is only chosen by 13.52%.

React.js – features and advantages

Some of the well-known React features and benefits of use are:

  • system components reusability
  • high performance due to virtual Document Object Model (DOM) application
  • one-way data binding
  • providing JSX syntax
  • simplicity
  • SEO-friendliness
  • readable UI code
  • reusability across numerous platforms
  • ease in building rich user interfaces
  • big community support
  • fast rendering

Common React use cases

The React library can be used in a variety of situations. These include:

  • both mobile and web app development
  • single-page React applications
  • high-volume applications
  • dynamic websites
  • visualization tools
  • static site generation

React apps, or applications that use React, are also some of the world-renowned ones. These cover, for instance, WhatsApp, Instagram, Netflix, Facebook, Reddit, PayPal, Airbnb, and Dropbox, to name but a few of the most heavily used apps.

Next.js vs React – a brief comparison

The relationship between Next.js and React may be seen as a little complicated. They are sometimes called frameworks, while, in fact, React is a library that the Next.js framework uses. Next.js even calls itself „The React Framework for Production”, and React mentions Next.js as a recommended tool for „building a server-rendered website with Node.js”.

And that’s what makes the consideration of whether to create a React app vs Next.js one a little pointless. 

However, the Next.js vs Create React App opposition is another story as the latter – also known as CRA – is simply React’s framework and a means for starting off new React apps. React itself calls CRA „the best way to start building a new single-page application in React”.

Next.js and React – similarities and differences

However, if we were to compare React itself to Next.js, there are, obviously, some similarities and significant differences that can be traced. As for common points, they are both web app development platforms that belong to the JS family; it’s just that React seems to be the more loved member.

Not only is React the second most popular web framework or technology – as Stack Overflow 2022 Developer Survey revealed – but it’s also the most wanted one, with 22.52% of developers surveyed willing to learn it and develop with it.

As for differences, React, due to its modular nature, has a steeper learning curve than Next.js for some developers. However, the effort may be worth making as React, being a library, is regarded as way more versatile than Next.js. But the latter offers developers a variety of useful built-in tools that ultimately make creating and coding pages quicker. Next.js also outshines React in terms of performance and documentation available, but it’s React’s community that is larger.

Next.js is in essence a React framework, so it can't exist without React. But it offers a lot of tools out of the box (like routing, and server-side rendering) that we would have to set up separately otherwise (e.g., React Router for routing or Express.js for server-side rendering).

All in all, React vs Next.js is not an opposition but rather a set of interdependent or complementary technologies that are set to craft great things together.

Thinking of ways to enhance the tech stack of your next IT project? Want to make use of either React or Next.js, all the powerful combo they constitute? If you would like to benefit from all the advantages they offer, contact Codete now.

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