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Beatrice Egumandi
Beatrice Egumandi

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Streamlining Your React Development with Next.js: A Guide to Migration for Developers

React has been one of the most popular frontend frameworks for building web applications and it has been widely used by developers all over the world. However, using the outdated create-react-app CLI (Command Line Interface) to start new projects can be tedious and time-consuming, especially when it comes to configuring server-side rendering (SSR), handling image optimization, and improving performance. See Documentation

To address these challenges, Next.js, a popular React framework, was introduced to streamline the development process by providing a set of tools and features that help to optimize the development process, improve the user experience, and make the project more scalable. See Documentation

In this guide, I will walk you through the benefits of migrating to Next.js and provide a step-by-step guide on how to migrate your React project to Next.js.

Benefits of Migrating to Next.js

  • Server-side Rendering: Next.js comes with built-in support for server-side rendering(SSR), which allows you to pre-render the initial HTML on the server, and deliver it to the client, resulting in faster load times and improved SEO.

  • Automatic Code Splitting: Next.js automatically splits your code into small chunks and loads only the necessary parts, which improves the performance of your application, especially for larger applications.

  • Image Optimization: Next.js provides an automatic image optimization feature that compresses images and serves them in WebP format, resulting in faster load times and improved performance.

  • Static Site Generation: Next.js supports static site generation, which allows you to pre-render your pages at build time, resulting in faster load times and improved SEO.

  • Automatic Prefetching: Next.js automatically prefetches links that are in the user's viewport, resulting in faster navigation and improved user experience.

Step-by-Step Guide to Migrate Your React Project to Next.js

Step 1: Create a New Next.js Project
The first step is to create a new Next.js project using the command-line interface. You can create a new project by running the following command:

npx create-next-app@latest
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This will create a new Next.js app in a directory of your choosing.

Install package
During the project creation process, you may also be prompted to install additional optional packages, depending on your project requirements. You can choose to install these packages or skip them for now and install them later as needed.

Step 2: Run the Development Server
Once you have made all the necessary installments, you can run the development server using the following command:

npm run dev
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This will start the Next.js development server, and you can access your application by visiting http://localhost:3000 in your web browser.

Development Server

Step 3: Copy React Components
Copy all your existing React components from your previous project into the pages directory of your new Next.js project. Next.js requires all pages to be inside the pages directory, so you will need to adjust your file structure accordingly.

New next project

Step 4: Adjust Routing
Next.js uses a file-system based routing system, which means that the file name determines the route path. For example, a file named about.js in the pages directory will create a route path /about.

about file

about page
You will need to adjust your routing accordingly to match the new file structure.

File hierachy
In this image, index.js is the default page for the root URL /, about.js is the page for the URL path /about, contact/index.js is the page for the URL path /contact and shop/index.js is the page for the URL path /shop.

The shop/[slug].js file is a dynamic route that matches any URL path that starts with /shop/ and has a segment after it. The key "slug" is actually a common term used in web development to refer to a portion of a URL that identifies a particular resource on a website. For example, in the URL http://localhost:3000/shop/shoes, "shoes" is the slug that identifies the specific product being viewed.

Step 5: Adjust the Entry Point
Next.js requires an entry point file called index.js in the pages directory. For example, if you moved the about.js page to a new directory called company, you would need to update the entry point file to reflect the new location of the about.js page. To do this, you could either choose to create a new index.js file or modify the existing one that Next.js provides by default and add the following code:

import About from './company/about';

export default About;
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Here I imported the About page component from the new location ./company/about. This tells Next.js that the About page should be the new entry point for your application, so when a user navigates to the root URL of your application, the content of the About page will be rendered instead of the previous index.js page. You can adjust the entry point file in a similar way to match your new file structure.


Migrating your React project to Next.js can streamline your development process and improve the performance and user experience of your application. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can easily migrate your project to Next.js and take advantage of its many features and benefits. Happy Coding!

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