Next.js vs. React: Choosing the Right Framework for Your Project

JavaScript language has a dynamic environment and is loaded with so many tools. In the tech space, we see innovation happening daily and developers finding new solutions for various industries. For web development, any business wants expert developers who can choose the right framework or library for their new project. 
In 2013, when React showed up, it became the topmost choice of developers. It could do everything perfectly like giving appealing UI and components. Yet it lacked providing optimal performance and effective search engine optimization. And that’s when Next.js ushered in like a hero and offered “server-side rendering”. Hence, it came and changed the entire game.
However, the trickier part is that Next.js was built with React’s legacy and touched newer skies. Well, the question here is how can any developer pursue the exact process of identifying the nuances of React and Next.js? Moreover, the common question prevails about which is better for a particular project. There are various aspects to be considered such as website performance, search engine rankings, user experience, and project success.
And so, this blog will provide the best insights and will guide you through the ins and outs of React and Next.js. We also have compared both languages in terms of their usability, performance, and compatibility.

What is React?

UI and UX designs are a significant component of web development. React does it exceptionally well. React is an open-source frontend JavaScript library created by Facebook. It is used for building large web apps. In 2013, developers quickly accepted React and used it to create delightful, engaging, and scalable web apps. It can create rapid UI for single as well as multi-page web apps. Being one of the most popular front-end libraries, it helps developers create stunning UI components that can be used repeatedly. In addition, developers can use it for mobile app development by harnessing its rich libraries and components to create exceptional UI. Another good part of this framework is that it allows developers to decide the workflow and take charge of the entire app work.

Top Features of React:

  • It has uni-directional data flow, starting from parent to child components
  • With Virtual DOM, it can help improve the speed of application by reducing the need for updates
  • With JavaScript extensions, coding becomes easier
  • Multiple components have their logic for fast running and reusability
  • Rapid performance
  • Conditional statements possible
  • Easy to debug

Pros and Cons of React

Pros Cons
Boosts modular and reusable code
JSX syntax is very unfamiliar and difficult to understand for new developers
Effective updates and enhanced performance
Beginners will find a steeper learning curve
Diverse third-party libraries and tools
Focuses more on a viewed layer, for a full-stack solution, it needs more libraries
Simplifies debugging with predictive data flow
Needs additional setup and boilerplate code
Mobile app development is possible with React
SEO challenges are more for single-page applications as they are without any configurations
Active community for learners
Version compatibility issues during frequent updates
Can simplify state management in functional components
Integration challenges with older frameworks and libraries
Virtual DOM is the best tool, providing efficient updates for better performance
Difficult to use it for a mobile-first approach for developers
JSX improves code readability and maintainability
In the beginning, more download size can pose a challenge

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What is Next.Js?

Vercel created the Next.js framework that is based on Node.js and Babel. It integrated with React for creating single-page apps. Next.js is an open-source project and is more used for performing seamless server-side rendering. Next.js can help you pre-render and export static files. It has quicker developer compilation and automatic size optimization. It has all that a developer needs to create a high-performing application.
Coming to the main point on why Next.js is recently becoming more popular as compared to React. For quite a long time, rendering has been a challenge for several developers. Next.js provides a layer of abstraction to perform simple tasks within the framework. Moreover, user experiences are getting enhanced as Next.js supports doing work faster and also supports CSRs. Some of the top brands of the world use Next.js such as AirBnB, X, Uber, Hulu, TikTok, Binance, etc. Such platforms have more than a million users and hence there are several complex data flows that need to be handled.

Top Features of Next.JS:

  • Server Side Rendering helps fetch data and render at the requested time
  • Static Export (SSG)
  • Can be configured easily
  • Pre-rendering helps to load apps faster removing browser generation
  • Automatic build size optimization
  • Enhanced development compilation
  • Static site generator using available data
  • Optimizes images
  • File system routing simplifies the creation of routes for web app development
  • Auto code splitting
  • Type Script that supports improving code quality
  • API route giving in-built support for API creation

Pros and Cons of Next.JS

Pros Cons
Auto code splitting
Less control over webpack configuration
Server-side rendering
Needs Node.js for server-side rendering
Built-in routing
Steeper learning curve in the beginning
Enhanced SEO performance
Has slower built times for bigger projects
Typescript support
Bigger bundle size as compared to React
Quick Refresh
Depends on Next.js ecosystem
API routes for serverless functions
Very less community support
Commendable documentation
Can become difficult to implement for simple projects

Detailed Comparison between Next.Js and React

Performance

Next.Js has efficient apps giving server-side rendering, code splitting, image optimization, and static destinations. All the site generators and static webpages get pre-rendered during the development stage, get cached, and served on a CDN, ensuring superfast loading. Moreover, Next.js provides numerous performance enhancement features.
React Native supports client-side rendering, making it inefficient for apps that demand high performance. It becomes slower in such situations. 

Documentation

Next.JS and React both have extensive documentation. Next.js has self-learning and practicing documentation, providing detailed and clear instructions to learn the ropes immediately. It also gives you hands-on tools and ways to understand. You can get on the job soon after completing the documentation.
React documentation is lengthier and exhaustive. However, it is user-friendly and has a lot of videos along with articles and tutorials to cover. React has active community support helping developers become better.

Learning Curve

React is much simpler to learn, understand, and master as compared to Next.js which takes more time.

Server-Side Rendering

Next.js is more popular due to its exceptional feature of server-side rendering. It has built-in support for SSR and does not need any sort of configuration. All the data gets collected and rendered whenever a different view is to be delivered to users.
React.js does not have built-in support. It needs a lot of effort to get things done.

Pre-rendering

Pre-rendering is all about rendering on the server, ensuring reuse, and reducing the requirement of browser generation. Hence, apps can be loaded much faster. This is only possible in Next.js but not in React.js.

Client-side Rendering

React.js apps get client-side rendering through the HTML page generation on the client side or else on the user browser. Once HTML is generated through JavaScript from the user device, it completes the rendering process and the webpage becomes interactive.
Next.js helps in obtaining CSR, however, you need to use other tools.

Static Site Generation

Next.js can easily perform static site generation by rendering HTML pages from JavaScript during the building process. The benefit of SSG is that it improves performance considerably with zero SSR involvement.
Whereas doing the same thing with React demands enough amount of time and effort.

Configuration

React.js does not have enough tools and components for configuration. To do the same, standard CRA must be disconnected and other changes need to be done in the setup. You can only do what is readily available.
On the other hand, in Next.js, you can quickly configure anything without more effort.

Routing and Page Structure

Next.js has a well-structured and predefined file system for routing and its simplification and for page setup for your application.
Also, React has many library options like React Router which is very flexible yet lacks many other advantages like Next.

Maintenance

From the perspective of maintenance, both React and Next.js are equally efficient and well-maintained. They regularly release updates and fix all the bugs.

TypeScript

With touch tsconfig.com, Next.js supports TypeScript and its configurations.
React only supports TypeScript during the CRA app with npx create-reach-app my-app – template typescript.

Development Cost

React and Next.js are open-source. Hence, building web apps with any of these technologies will not be very expensive and will be quite affordable.

Data Fetching and Loading Time

Data Fetching is done on the client side by using various libraries like Fetch API in React.
Whereas, in Next.js both client-side and server-side data fetching is much more possible. Hence, the load time in Next.js is much lower as compared to that in React.js.

API Integration

There are inbuilt API routes that allow us to define endpoints and handle all the incoming requests. All this is possible in Next.js. Also, it can be used to build a tailored backend for the app. In addition, it can also convey the data from the database to the client side. Overall, it gives greater flexibility to develop web apps.
On the other hand, React focuses more on creating UI.

Developer Community

React has a stronger and more active community of more experienced developers. This is one of the top advantages of choosing React.
In the case of Next.js, there are fairly few new developers and the community is small. It will be difficult to find expert developers.

SEO

For SEO optimization, Next.js wins any day. This is because Next.js provides greater speed and compatibility by pre-rendering website pages. This helps search engines to crawl and index the site faster, boosting SEO.
SEO is very crucial for any website as it helps in improving the rankings of your web pages. The higher the rank, the better the search results. Users will always click on the websites that are ranked higher. Moreover, Next.js has exceptional SSR capability that leads to improved SEO, reducing the load time of a website to deliver good user experiences.
In the case of React, all the websites mostly find it difficult to get Google search rankings due to slow crawling and indexing. There are a lot of content-heavy features that JavaScript code needs to render them.

When to Use React Over Next.JS?

  • When dealing with large web apps having complicated routing, data-driven components, and heavy content.
  • For building feature-rich UI and creating reusable UI components.
  • To build large-scale apps with isolated and reusable components
  • To develop apps that need to be rendered on the client side
  • To simplify working with data
  • For using extended libraries for high functionality and for adding more features
  • To get considerable offline support to access, retrieve, and update data in offline mode.
  • Cross-platform application scaling and enhancement.

Top Use Cases for React

  • Client-side rendering apps by using Virtual DOM for updating and rendering components
  • For online streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube
  • For building apps like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • SaaS tools like Zapier
  • For creating delivery platforms like Uber.

When to Use Next Js over React?

  • For developing a static site or an app that requires simple routing.
  • To automate build processes through its server-side rendering feature
  • For prioritizing SEO and app load speed for blogs, ecommerce sites, and websites.
  • To build frontend and backend with one stack
  • For content personalization for landing pages and static websites
  • For building static as well as dynamic pages in the same app with one stack

Top use case of Next.js

  • E-commerce site
  • Blogs
  • Marketing sites
  • Landing pages

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Conclusion

To conclude, Next.js provides dynamic tools and features to enable a quick development process. And that is why to develop MVP, Next.js is a better option. React has tools and resources that help in the efficient front-end development of mobile and web applications. 
We expect that the above-detailed comparison will help you choose the right language for your web app development project. Overall, no matter the kind of framework you choose, it is very important to perform smooth operations of the app. Any sort of unforeseen errors can hamper your project. To stay a step ahead, you need to track and analyze errors in real-time. An experienced React JS development company like Whitelotus Corporation can help you choose the right framework for your project. Over the years, we have provided stunning and high-performing web apps that have marked phenomenal success in reaching the target audience along with improved business profitability. Ask our experts today for further guidance.

FAQs

1. What should I use React or Next.js?

It totally depends on the kind of project you want to start with. Each framework has its use cases.

2. What is the major difference between React and Next.js?

React is a JS library that is used for building appealing UI for web apps. Next.js is a framework built upon React by adding innovative functionalities.

3. Should I include Next.js for using React in my project?

It depends on the kind of project you are doing. If you use Next.js, you get an inbuilt server-side rendering that can render HTML language through JavaScript.

4. Is Next.js frontend or backend?

Next.js is technically a frontend tool that includes server-side rendering capability. However, it can also be considered as a backend tool.

Author

  • Sunil Chavda

    Sunil is a result-orientated Chief Technology Officer with over a decade of deep technical experience delivering solutions to startups, entrepreneurs, and enterprises across the globe. Have led large-scale projects in mobile and web applications using technologies such as React Native, Flutter, Laravel, MEAN and MERN stack development.

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