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What Is NextJS Good For? As React has grown into the dominant framework for building web interfaces, Next.js has emerged as the leading React framework for production applications.
But what exactly is Next.js best suited for? When does it make sense to use Next.js versus alternatives like Create React App or Gatsby?
As an experienced React developer who has built numerous applications with Next.js, I want to outline the 5 most compelling benefits and use cases of Next.js that make it a superb choice for many projects in 2023.
Let’s dig in and shed light on what Next.js excels at so you can determine if it’s a good technical fit for your next web project!
1. Server Side Rendering and SEO
One of Next.js’s biggest advantages is enabling server side rendering (SSR) by default for React apps.
Here are some benefits of SSR powered by Next.js versus client side only React apps:
- Better SEO – Search engines can crawl and index all pages since HTML is generated on the server
- Address SEO gaps – Fix React SEO issues like inconsistent crawling
- Media embedding – Allows embedding Twitter, YouTube etc which need rendered HTML
For any sites needing solid search performance and social sharing, Next.js is a great fit thanks to baked in SSR.
2. Simplified Production Builds
Next.js radically simplifies creating production React app builds through features like:
- Automatic code splitting – Only loads JS required for each page
- Image optimization – Auto resizing, lazy loading, and CDN handling
- Compression – Gzip by default
- Minification – Removes whitespace and optimizes JS bundles
- Cache headers – Sets optimal HTTP caching headers automatically
Together this provides high performance production builds that require little specialized optimization knowledge to implement manually.
3. Straightforward Routing
Next.js makes routing incredibly intuitive through file system based convention:
- Page based routing – Routes map to pages under /pages folder
- Nested routing – Nested folders create nested route URLs
- Intuitive dynamic routes – [id].js handles dynamic route segments
- Automatic route generation – No need to manually specify routes
- Built-in Link component – Easy way to create links between pages
Routing becomes nearly configuration free – just create pages under /pages and routes are handled.
4. Feature Rich Developer Experience
Next.js bakes in many features that enhance developer experience:
- Fast refresh – Lightning fast iteration on code changes
- Built-in tooling – Bundle analyzer, telemetry, and tracing
- API routes – Quickly create backend endpoints with serverless functions
- Environment variables – Supports .env.local along with dynamic env vars
- Static generation – Allow pages to be statically generated at build time
Together this improves all aspects of building Next.js apps from development through production.
5. Scalability and Performance
Next.js enables excellent performance and scales smoothly as apps grow:
- Zero config code splitting – Only loads required JS for each page
- Incremental Static Regeneration – Only regenerate stale pages as needed
- Granular caching – Fine grained caching of data and responses
- Lazy loading – Automatic lazy loading for code and images
- Parallel execution – concurrently pre-renders pages during builds
These capabilities keep apps fast as they scale while removing traditional React performance hurdles.
Bonus: Wide Ecosystem Integration
As the leading React framework, Next.js enjoys great ecosystem support including:
- Contentful, Prismic, Strapi – Leading headless CMSs integrate nicely
- Tailwind CSS – Popular utility CSS framework supported
- MDX – Use Markdown/JSX component hybrids
- Storybook – Component explorer integrates well
- Fastify – Alternative server framework besides Express
Robust ecosystem and active community support further propels adoption.
Key Takeaways on When to Use Next.js
Based on its strengths, Next.js tends to be an excellent choice for:
- Marketing sites, blogs, content sites, and documentation needing solid SEO
- Web applications with complex routing and dynamic pages
- Large React codebases benefiting from code splitting and scalability
- Teams wanting an optimized out-of-box config over custom setup
- Sites where performance is critical
- Developers who want to leverage React for more than just client-side
Of course always assess your specific needs – but in general Next.js solves many common real-world production use cases.
While great for many applications, keep these additional considerations around Next.js in mind:
- Higher learning curve than basic React
- More complex than static site generators like Gatsby for simple sites
- Not ideal for web page renderer-focused sites like marketing pages
- Requires Node.js server environment which adds overhead
Understanding tradeoffs and aligning technical choices to your goals is key to any successful project.
But for a vast range of robust, interactive web applications – Next.js delivers an unparalleled experience.
Give it a spin on your next React project and see the benefits yourself!