Co-founder and CEO of Ideamotive. Entrepreneur, mentor and startup advisor.
Creating any project is a daunting task in itself, but modern technology can make the development process less painful. Thanks to them, you can concentrate on your business goals.
To make it easier for you to choose between these technologies, we review them in detail from time to time in our blog posts. Our goal is to help you make the right decision about what to use in which case.
Next.js is a framework created by Vercel. It is open-source based on Node.js and Babel and integrates with React for developing single-page apps. This makes server-side rendering very easy. As per nextjs.org:
"With Next.js, server rendering React applications has never been easier, no matter where your data is coming from."
Apart from that, Next.js supports static export, pre-rendering and has many more nice features like automatic building size optimization, faster developer compilation, and a preview mode.
In my opinion, the current version of Next.js is something that React has been missing for a long time.
It has all the functionality you need to create a ready-to-go application. Plus, the documentation is great, and it's getting more and more popular with front-end developers.
Next.js is doing really well, but that doesn't mean you should always use this framework.
React was originally created by Facebook, and today has become one of the most popular front-end libraries.
React is trying to set industry standards. For instance, Redux is considered the best library for enterprise-grade React applications. At the same time, you need to think about the following: Redux can seriously hinder development productivity. Redux makes your job more difficult when you introduce a new feature, and you have to change too many things throughout your application. So we are again faced with the same dilemma: should I choose a simpler library?
Also note that React is considered more as a library (a tool that can be used in any project, like a hammer) and less as a framework (a whole architectural design, which says what kind of hammers should be used and where), hence the need for the creation of your own workflow and one of those workflows evolved into a framework named... Next.js.
When choosing any software library or framework, developer experience is usually taken into account. When I talk about developer experience, I mean how developers actually complete a task. Developers tend to favor libraries or frameworks that are fun and easy to use. This is the main reason we have leading libraries and frameworks today.
In the React world, Next.js has become a popular framework for "getting to the point." As I know, React fans take Next.js and really enjoy working with it in their projects.
Next.js is built on top of React to make development easier. Next.js takes a little getting used to, but even developers new to the front-end world can get started relatively quickly. So, it comes out that there is definitely a different experience building a project with Next.js and React.
This post compares the experiences of Next.js and React developers. We've already gone through some background, so let's go deeper into the details, discussing what it is like to initially launch a project, learn these technologies, find talents, use documentation, and do advanced steps with Next.js and React.
If you want to create pages for a React project, you must create a component and then add it to the router.
If you want to create pages for the Next.js project, you simply add the page to the pages folder and the required header component link. This makes your life easier because you write less code, and the project is easy to follow.
If you're just getting started with React, then Create React App is a great way to learn it. The CRA also gives you a head start if you want to use React to build a Single Page Application (SPA).
Since Create React App is only responsible for creating the front-end assembly, you can use it with a server of your choice, such as Node. You should also be aware that CRA uses Babel and Webpack under the hood, but don't worry, no knowledge is required about them.
In other words, Create React App is a tool that saves you the hassle of setting up and customizing your development environment. All you have to do is run one command that will set up the tools you need to run your React project. So instead of wasting time on customization, you can immediately focus on building your application.
Apps built with Next.js are incredibly fast thanks to static sites and server-side rendering. They are effective by default thanks to a host of performance optimization features such as Image Optimization introduced in Next 10.
So, if you choose Next.js, you can benefit from automatic server rendering and code splitting (which will improve performance). Besides, SSR (Server Side Rendering) will greatly improve the performance of your application.
Talking about React, there are things that rule it out of the debate. Out of the box it only supports client-side rendering, which is not enough if you want to build a high-performance application.
Next.js takes advantage of React to help developers build single-page apps.
All of these features will help you create a workable and ready-to-go application.
React is easily extensible and can include features like routing as well as state management patterns with libraries like Redux. React is minimal but can be customized for just about any project.
To conclude, here I'll leave the right to choose the winner to your project's requirements.
This is obvious but often overlooked. While the trendy home page of some frameworks might catch your eye, you still need additional courses, books, tutorials, and articles beyond the boring and dry documentation to get you started.
In any software project, good documentation can really help you easily use the tools, figure out which libraries to use, etc. There are fantastic docs options available for both React and Next.js.
Next.js has a "learn-by-doing" documentation set that walks you through things like routing and component creation. React also has a similar setup, with several tutorials that explain the basics.
There are other personal reasons why you might choose a popular, widely used framework. What happens if you run into a problem, and the communities really don't have anyone to turn to for help? Since you are the docs yourself, the chances are good that you will be wasting a lot of time.
With React, you can rely on a great community of developers who have created some blog posts, YouTube videos. You can also find content on Stack Overflow and even in the React docs themselves. It took years of development as the library matured.
With Next.js, there are fewer formal tutorials and more questions and conversations from GitHub. The Next.js team members themselves are very accessible in the open-source world.
There are many key contributors in the React community who are available as well. In both React and Next.js, an active community provides a very positive developer experience.
As a rule, we estimate the approximate quantity of developers with the help of data from the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020.
However, in this case, given the huge popularity of React and the tiny Next.js community, there is no sense in comparing this area.
React is the clear leader here.
Most front-end job listings require it. It is supported by Facebook, so employers feel "safe" in their choice.
Recall, more than 35% of respondents use React while Next.js wasn't even included in this list.
Since this fact, we can conclude that it will be easier for you to find developers working with React rather than with its opponent in this battle.
Plus, we advise thinking about the future. The more particular devs are on the market, the more opportunities to scale your project you'll have. Concerning developers, if you specialize in something popular and are really good at it, there are many projects for you.
To tell the truth, a well-written learning resource will dramatically cut your learning curve. In addition, if your technology has a batch of guides, videos, or courses - you are the lucky one.
What about React vs Next.js, we've already mentioned that both guys have top-notch learning materials.
React has a very low level of difficulty. However, using Next.js requires a little training, but even developers new to the front-end world can get started relatively quickly.
Neither Next.js nor React doesn't enter the list of the top-paying technologies. On top of that, both are open-source, which means free. Therefore, building an app with any of these solutions won't cost you a fortune.
Given all the mentioned features, isn't it a great deal?
The only difference between React and Next.js is that you need some time to find experienced Next.js devs or devote a few days to surf through tons of React programmers.
Summing all the written up, we offer turning to the next brief table.
So, what is Next.js used for? Let's see!
Some of the best examples include:
If your project includes many components with different, frequently changing states - active/inactive navigation elements, expanded / collapsed accordion sections, dynamic inputs, active/disabled buttons, username, and permissions - then the project might be a good fit for React. React helps you manage these changing states and dynamically present different views to the user based on the state information.
The declarative nature of React components makes it very easy to deal with these complex structures and control the situation as the application grows in scale and scope.
The most famous use cases:
In an ideal world, you would find yourself in a great engineering team with a prominent product, a strong user society, and powerful tools. In the real world, you will face some of them, but usually, one (or more) of them is missing.
Both React and Next.js provide great opportunities for developers in their own way. React allows you to build things the way you want and is supported by a strong community. Next.js makes your life easier with several tools and conventions available out of the box, and it is also supported by a very active open source community.
In terms of tooling, both React and Next.js are easy to start with. Going beyond the simple "hello world" project, it is pretty easy to find help, whether in documentation or community resources.
React is a magnificent addition to any project. What's even better, it can scale as well if given the opportunity. React is more versatile than Next.js simply because it is a library. The decision to implement it depends on the engineer.
We hope the comparisons and discussions provided here give some insight into how you can use them in your projects.
You'll have a great chance to spend some time discussing the features of your idea with experts matched with your product and industry.
After that, you'll definitely have a clear idea of which development team to hire.
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Robert is a co-founder and CEO of Ideamotive. Entrepreneur, who with passion spreads digital revolution all around the internet. Mentor and advisor at startup accelerators. Loves to learn and discover new business models.View all author posts
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