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The Difference between Next.js and React?

In this post, we take a look at the difference between Next.js and React and discover the pros and cons of each approach.
Joel Olawanle

Joel Olawanle

Mar 22, 2022

One of the first decisions a developer or CTO makes before starting a project is deciding which technology to utilize, as this is critical to the project's success. When choosing a software library or framework, what it's like for developers to complete a certain project (the developer experience) is usually taken into account.

Libraries or frameworks that are exciting and straightforward to use are frequently selected by developers. This is one of the primary reasons why some libraries and frameworks become so famous and extensively utilized by so many developers. As a result, React and Next.js have become two of the most popular front-end web development technologies today, responsible for shaping our online experience as the standard tools used to construct user interfaces.

In this blog post, we will examine these two technologies to understand what they do, their pros and cons, the key differences between them, and then explore their use cases, so you can eventually decide which one to utilize for your projects.

#A Brief Introduction to Next.js

Next.js is a framework created by Vercel (formerly Zeit). It is open-source, built using Node.js and Babel, and connects with React to create single-page apps. This allows you to create static web apps and makes server-side rendering incredibly simple, regardless of where your data comes from.

It is a React framework, which means it works on top of React.js or it makes use of the many popular React library’s capabilities to quickly construct software applications. It has a lot of important features, such as a preview mode, building size optimization, static export, and pre-rendering.

Next.js has two types of pre-rendering to manage how data is fetched for optimal speed, these are:

  • Server-side Rendering (SSR) enables the retrieval and rendering of data at the time of the request, resulting in clients receiving a completely drawn page on demand rather than having to wait several seconds for individual elements to load.

  • Static generation uses data that is already available at build time before the request is performed; this is especially useful when data is publicly cached or pre-rendered for SEO purposes.

You can read more on Server-side Rendering (SSR) and Static-site Generation (SSG) here.

Overall, the current version of Next.js is something that React has long lacked, as it is largely focused on integration and performance. It also includes a Rust compiler for quicker builds, improved image management, increased SEO crawlability functions, and operational tools to make it even more production-friendly.

The Pros

  • Next.js apps are fast and give a more logical approach to data management due to Server-side Rendering and Static Generation. Native image optimization features improve performance as well.

  • Next.js, applications are easy to create. To build pages, for example, simply add the page to the pages folder and the necessary header component link. This simplifies your life since you write less code, and the project is easier to follow, resulting in better project management.

  • Images are scaled and sent in the best, latest formats, such as WebP, and are tailored to fit into smaller viewports.

  • Vercel, the startup behind Next.js, wanted to make it as simple as possible to deploy React projects. And they succeeded, which means you're only a few clicks away from being ready for deployment.

  • One of the reasons Next.js is so popular among developers is that it supports Typescript.

The Cons

  • Next.js routing system is just a file system, which is insufficient for some tasks but not all. Node.js is the technology to have on hand for creating dynamic routes, therefore developers must be familiar with it.

  • It is modest but expanding by the day as Next.js becomes one of the most popular online building pieces. The skill pool and demand for Next.js developers is growing, which means there are more options for individuals wishing to make a name for themselves in modern application development.

#A Brief Introduction to React

React is a free and open-source JavaScript front-end library for creating user interfaces. Meta (formerly Facebook) and a community of individual developers and organizations manage it. It became open-source in 2013 and is now one of the most used front-end libraries.

According to the 2021 Stack Overflow developer survey, React.js surpassed jQuery as the most frequently used web framework with around 40.14 percent and the most sought, with one in every four developers desiring it. Over, 8000 industry leaders utilize React.

Among the many important capabilities given by React are routing and state management methods with Redux (for enterprise-grade mobile apps) and other libraries/frameworks such as React Native. React Hooks is another React-based utility that is frequently used to handle component behavior and logic.

React includes a range of extensions for overall application architectural support, such as Flux and React Native, in addition to UI. It provides a unique extension that accelerates and simplifies the debugging of React web projects in practically all browsers. Its main rivals are Angular and Vue.js, although according to npm trends, it has been the most popular library of the three in recent years.

The Pros

  • It includes a comprehensive set of manuals, tutorials, and training materials. Any developer with JavaScript skills can quickly grasp and begin creating web apps using React.

  • You'll need to design your process in React. This is a more difficult road than just utilizing what other JavaScript frameworks provide: a plethora of ready-made capabilities integrated into the framework.

  • React has also grown in popularity as a result of its useful collection of tools that make the developer's job more straightforward.

The Cons

  • React is a library that specializes in the creation of user interfaces. As a result, you will still need to select other technologies to have a comprehensive set of development tools for your project.

  • Because its development cycles are so short, the existing documentation is quickly out of date. The robust community responds quickly to any inquiries or concerns, but it also necessitates regular re-learning of its aspects.

#Key Differences Between Next.js and React

It is critical to distinguish between a framework and a library, as we previously stated that Next.js is a React framework (as it calls itself "The React Framework for Production"), and React is a JavaScript library.

Frameworks help get started on projects more quickly, as frameworks provide low-level Frameworks that make it easier to get started on projects faster since they provide low-level functionality, leaving only the high-level functionality of an app to develop. Frameworks give some fundamental code to start developing an application faster and with less effort.

Libraries are collections of resources that developers may utilize to streamline the application development process. Libraries may be quite useful while working on complex projects since they allow you to utilize different applications, even if they are unrelated in any manner.

In general, when you use a library, you control the flow of an application, however, when you use a framework, the flow is controlled by the framework, which is one of the most significant distinctions between a framework and a library. The following is a summary of the differences between Next.js and React:

You write less code and the project is easy to follow, resulting in better project management.Coding is fast with the help of Create-React-App (CRA).
Because of Server-side Rendering and Static Generation, Next.js applications are incredibly fast.Decent, but the lack of code splitting results in poor performance.
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.React is easily extensible and can include features like routing as well as state management patterns with libraries like Redux.
In terms of SEO, Next.js has increased SEO crawlability functions as applications go through the proper information, such as the meta and headers and, catalog those details.When a search engine crawls through a React project, it will not get the necessary data it needs, as it will only retrieve a JavaScript file, making it poor in terms of SEO.
Well-written documentation.Well-written documentation.
Has a smaller community but is very friendly with over 82.1k stars on GitHub.Has a huge community and is very friendly, with over 183k stars on GitHub.
Very narrow talent pool.Has a huge talent pool.
Very easy to learn with lots of resources, guides, videos, and courses.Very easy to learn with lots of resources, guides, videos, and courses.
Low cost of development.Low cost of development.

#Use Cases for Next.js

Next.js is used to create landing pages, SEO-friendly websites, eCommerce businesses, and other web applications that require rapid, high-performance load times., TikTok, Hulu, Binance, and many more websites and platforms that involve many people interacting with complicated data influxes are some of the most amazing instances of Next.js in action.

You can check out hundreds of beautiful websites built with Next.js by Vercel here.

Next.js and Hygraph

Hygraph is a GraphQL-based headless CMS that works well with Next.js apps and webpages. All you have to do to get started with Hygraph is to create an account, select a plan and then create a project. This will provide us with an API that we can query with GraphQL. GraphQL is a query language that allows you to get exactly what you want from many resources in a single request.

Querying resources and data using GraphQL is very simple and could look like this:

posts {

You can check some querries commands and how they work with GraphQL here.

Hygraph has a robust and versatile administration API for managing your content and schema, as well as a lightning-fast content API. Combine the power of Next.js with a headless CMS for your Progressive Web Software, eCommerce store, or desktop app project.

#Use Cases for React

React is used to build SEO-friendly dynamic webpages, mobile apps, single-page apps, dashboards, and visualization tools. It is used to develop some of the most well-known platforms and services we use every day, like Facebook, Netflix,, and Airbnb.

You can check out hundreds of beautiful websites made with React here.

React and Hygraph

Making use of GraphQL in your React app would need you to first install Apollo Client, this will help you configure Apollo Client and then allow you to retrieve data from graphQL and REST endpoints. To work with React in Hygraph you can make use of the React SDK.

This example shows how to query from Hygraph using graphql-request in React.js. You can also read this tutorial on how to work with React.js and why a React Headless CMS with GraphQL would be the best choice for your next project.

#How to Pick the Right One for Your Project

This should not be the issue because there is no conclusive answer as to which is superior, but rather it depends. It all boils down to the type and aims of the project, whether you're operating as a developer or a CTO.

In their ways, both React and Next.js present excellent options for developers. React allows you to construct things exactly as you want them to be and is backed by a large community. Next.js makes your life simpler by providing several tools and standards out of the box, and it is also backed by a thriving open source community. They're simple to get started with and easy to obtain support with, whether through documentation or community resources.

React is a wonderful complement to any project. What's more, if, given the chance, it can scale as well. React is more adaptable than Next.js simply because it is a library. It is up to the engineer to decide whether to implement it.

We hope the contrasts and explanations offered here help you understand how to utilize them in your projects and which one to use based on the project.

Blog Author

Joel Olawanle

Joel Olawanle

Joel Olawanle is a Frontend Engineer and Technical writer based in Nigeria who is interested in making the web accessible to everyone by always looking for ways to give back to the tech community. He has a love for community building and open source.

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