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5 things you should know about Next.js

The Contentstack TeamDec 01, 2022

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Next.js is a React framework that supports high-performance web applications through a patchwork of modern tools and features. These building blocks will help you develop sleek React apps with scalable infrastructure, numerous integrations, limitless routing and a better user experience. 

To enhance development, Next.js takes the guesswork out of selecting third-party libraries by delivering front-end UIs for every occasion. If you want to take advantage of interactive layouts, there are React components that can merge static and dynamic page generation into one. 

Next.js is a React framework that improves how your business operates online:

SEO: More organic traffic is always a good thing with increased visibility in the SERPs.  

Responsive: Adapts to any device or screen size by skipping CSS selectors

Time to Market: Pre-made components save time on product testing and feedback

Versatile UX: Forget about plugins and templates when you have complete control over visual design.

As a standalone JavaScript library, React excels in performance thanks to an abundance of reusable tools. The only problem is rendering web content on the client side. With Next.js, it’s much easier to start your own project, where you no longer have to configure tools or reinvent the wheel. 

5 things to know about Next.js

1. Data fetching methods: SSG, SSR and ISR

Rendering converts JavaScript into HTML and moves web resources into the DOM. Data fetching pre-renders and loads your content during build time, with commands for server-side, static-site, client-side and incremental static regeneration. 

When you’re in a CMS, a pages directory will link each one to a dynamic route, rendering them in advance without dipping into client-side JS. This is done through either static site generation (SSG) or server-side rendering (SSR). 

SSG caches pages over a CDN by crawling your application to boost SEO rankings. This makes it a versatile page builder for marketing and blogging activities, on top of importing items into the back-end database. You just have to export the getStaticProps function to pass elements onto the client side. 

SSR detects files on the server and renders their HTML on the client page. It does wonders for user experience by allowing you to use recycled code on a high-speed connection. To fetch page data at the request time, you can call the getServerSideProps function to return the exported JSON for user dashboards or portals. 

Incremental static regeneration (ISR) differs in that it won’t render the requested page until after the user tries to visit it. The outcome is a pre-rendered version being shown to the user unless another build replaces it or the cache timeout is triggered. ISR assigns static generation to individual pages so you aren’t forced to rebuild the whole site.   

2. Build an API with dynamic routes

For those who want to develop their own API, Next.js offers a solution through API routes. How it works: A file in the pages/API directory gets treated as an endpoint deployed to the serverless function. 

The route comes with an SSG to grab your page data via a headless CMS, and Preview Mode to load a copy of your draft before it gets published. 

A great use case for API routes is processing user input, mainly for account sign-ups or forms to fill out. A POST request is then transmitted to the API route, thereby saving the fixed entry into your database. 

Here is the code for creating an API route that passes in the HTTP message and server response: 

export default function handler(req, res) {

res.status(200).json({ text: “Hello World!”});


Inside the brackets, you can return a JSON response with the status code 200 from the local host 3000 URL. Req and res are the handlers that receive either an incoming message or a helper function to fetch the endpoint. 

Dynamic API routes allow you to establish a REST pattern through subsequent GET requests for getting a list of posts or a media library in one go. It catches all your API paths by matching parameters to the specified queries and mobilizing them to the page. 

For external API routes, Next.js supports deploying on REST, GraphQL, and CORS headers. GraphQL provides the most use cases for uploading files and defining schemas. 

3. Features for editing and handling scripts

Enable Fast Refresh

One neat feature of Next.js is called Fast Refresh because it sends you feedback based on the edits you’ve made to a React component. 

Enabled on newer versions, Fast Refresh prompts most changes in seconds while preserving a constant state. You have several options to restrict code updates to a particular file and modify its core logic or event handlers at will. 

On non-React files, it reaches into other imported files and re-runs them with the recent edits. Fast Refresh quickly catches mistakes on your end, to correct syntax and runtime errors even when you don’t reload the app. 

The previous values are always preserved because of useState and useRef arguments. Resetting the state is done by typing // @refresh reset in the modified file, and remounting the components on every update. 

Automatic Code Splitting

Automatic code splitting bundles your application into separate pages that are accessible through different URLs, turning them into new entry points. On closer inspection, each page is partitioned into smaller chunks to eliminate dependencies and reduce the number of requests. 

The point of bundling JavaScript is to contract load times by only running the code on a page once a user lands there. It’s also called on-demand loading because it renders the resources in order of importance.

Splitting gets rid of duplicate code on repeat navigations, even though it preloads other pages a user might visit soon. This applies to shared modules or dependencies that you’ve downloaded. The final outcome is a smaller payload size on your React app.

4. Manage websites on the Jamstack architecture

Jamstack has been pivotal in the responsive website scene, ensuring they are secure and adaptable to business needs. 

It incorporates pre-rendering and decoupling of browser applications by partnering with site generators including Jekyll, Gatsby and Docsify for lightweight editing of HTML markdown on both files and templates. 

The vast majority of Jamstack sites are used to host personal blogs, B2B products, and e-commerce stores. Some of them are enterprise sites frequented by millions of users with developers working around the clock to keep servers online.  

Jamstack technologies are not only available on the client side but are also being implemented on the server side by full-stack developers. Whether it’s leveraging microservices or containers, there are functions that perform every task on your workflow checklist. 

When merged with CMS platforms, these site generators are bound to drive organic traffic to your website and attract more app users in the long run. 

5. Compiles TypeScript for a uniform rendering experience

If you’re attempting to create a TypeScript project, you won’t need to configure any built-in pages or APIs. In fact, it’s possible to clone the starter simply by calling create-next-app with a typescript flag. Then follow the directions on the command output to create a user profile. 

To send over an existing project, declare a new tsconfig.json file and save it to the root folder so it carries the default settings. Then it just boils down to toggling the compiler options or setting the file path before you insert an npm run dev to fetch the required packages and finish the setup. 

Next.js has specific types for Static Generation and SSR you can use to load web content in an asynchronous manner. If you need to migrate the app to TypeScript, import the built-in type AppProps and let it update your .js files to .tsx through the compiler. 

And lastly, the TypeScript integration supports next.config and incremental type checking to help detect any errors that pop up in your application. 

Optimize your site performance

When building a React app, specialization is the answer to remedying development costs that would exhaust your resources. 

After you adopt the Next.js framework, installing packages along with making API calls won’t be as complicated anymore. If you’re serious about perfecting the user experience, getting Next.js will optimize your site performance for better visibility on search engines.  

The system is packed with exceptional tools for importing JavaScript libraries, designing elegant themes, image rendering and much more. It has everything you need to launch a successful project on React.

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