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Next.js: The Default Framework for App Development — What you need to know

Next.js, created by a team at Vercel, stands as a leading React framework that excels in building both static and dynamic web applications. It offers a robust platform that integrates seamlessly with React to enhance user experience through server-side rendering (SSR) and static site generation (SSG).

This framework simplifies the development process with its automatic code splitting, pre-fetching, and optimized performance capabilities.

In this article, we'll explore what Next.js is, and what it offers to developers:

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a React-based framework ideal for building server-side rendered and statically generated web applications, including Web3 apps.

It extends React's capabilities for simplified routing and state management, while its integration with Node.js enables server-side rendering and efficient handling of asynchronous blockchain interactions.

💡Read this step-by-step guide to deploy a Next.js app to Fleek.xyz

Why is Next.js the Go-To Framework for Developers?

While most frameworks are specifically designed for only static or dynamic applications, Next.js’ flexible rendering methods help support both types of applications.

Let’s dive deeper into these features and look at other standout features to understand why Next.js is emerging as the most popular choice for building apps.

Server-side Rendering

In server-side rendering (SSR), the server pre-renders a web page into HTML before sending it to the client's browser. This differs from client-side rendering (CSR), where JavaScript runs in the browser to build and render pages dynamically.

Next.js makes SSR straightforward to implement, thanks to the ‘getServerSideProps’ function. It also optimizes SSR with automatic code splitting, lazy loading components, and efficient data fetching mechanisms, which ensure that only the necessary code is loaded and executed for each page.

This enhances the overall performance and user experience.

Static-Site Generation

Static Site Generation (SSG) involves pre-rendering pages at build time. That means all the pages of the application are generated when the app is deployed and each page is saved as a static HTML file.

Because the pages are pre-rendered and static, they can be served instantly to the user without any runtime delays. Furthermore, search engine crawlers can easily access and index static pages as the content is already generated and included in the HTML upfront. This speeds up load times significantly and leads to improved SEO and user experience.

Note: If you want to balance the benefits of static sites with the flexibility of server-rendering, use Next.js’ Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) feature.

This allows developers to update static content incrementally without needing to rebuild the entire site, which leads to faster load times and improved scalability.


Built-in Routing System

Routing determines which part of an application a user sees when they enter a specific URL. Unlike other popular frameworks which rely on third-party libraries and require manual setup and explicit configuration for each route, Next.js has a built-in simplified routing system.

1. File-system-based routing approach

Next.js utilizes a file-system-based routing approach, where each React component file within the pages or app directory automatically corresponds to a specific route. This reduces setup time and boilerplate code and significantly simplifies the process of creating new routes in an application.

For example, by creating a file named about.js in the pages directory and exporting a React component from it, Next.js automatically makes the About page accessible via the /about route.

2. Dynamic routing

Dynamic routing in Next.js allows apps to direct users to content-specific pages based on the unique ID in the URL. Here’s an example to understand this better:

Let’s say a user accesses a URL like ‘example.com/currencies/bitcoin’, Next.js automatically detects the part of the URL that is dynamic, represented by [id] in the route’s file name. In this case, it recognizes bitcoin as the id parameter from the URL.

Next, it fetches relevant data and populates a template page dynamically. This simplifies the development process as it uses a single template to create similar pages.

3. API routes

Next.js API routes can perform tasks like fetching data from blockchain networks, processing it, and sending only the necessary information back to the client. This reduces the workload on the client-side and improves the application’s performance and responsiveness.

Additionally, API routes enable developers to create serverless functions that scale automatically with the number of requests.

FAQs

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a React-based framework that supports server-side rendering and static-site generation. It’s ideal for developing dynamic web applications.

How does Next.js benefit developers?

Next.js streamlines app development with features like server-side rendering, static-site generation, built-in routing, and API routes, enhancing performance and scalability.

Why is server-side rendering crucial for apps?

Server-side rendering (SSR) is crucial for apps as it improves load times by pre-rendering pages into HTML, enhances SEO by making content readily accessible to search engines, and ensures all users, regardless of their local setups like browser extensions, receive a fully populated page immediately upon visiting.