What is Nextjs?
Acorrding to the official documentation, Next.js is a flexible React framework that gives you building blocks to create fast web applications.
Difference rendering techniques
Server Side Rendering is technique when you want to get new data from server, client will pass necessary params to server and get the whole html from server. With this approach, our app is not reactive. When you search something, filter something, click something, it will reload the whole html. It is not very friendly when you have a lot of data and user need to spend time to look at blank screen while your site is loading data. But it is good for SEO cause it always return html and google bot know what is your site about.
Client Side Rendering is technique when you pass params to server from client, you will get data in json format from server. For that reason, you will save your bandwidth, your page will load faster and it will be more reactive. Nowadays, good frameworks like React, Vue, Angular do these things really well. It also handle or at least, give you a tool or a clear guide transpile to work with old browser, bundling, minifying, splitting. It will make your app faster and more compatible. However, big disadvantage in this approach is that it is hard to SEO. Why? When you load a page, in React case, you only have an html element with id is root, after that React will handle to render the rest. And google bot just see the html element before React render the rest so it only see your page have an html element with id is root. For that reason, it have no idea what is your site about and lower your page rank.
Static Site Generation is technique to generate html file in build time. For example, you finish to implement your about page, you build your project, it will generate html file of about page and store in your project. So when user want to view your about page, the site will return that file instead of calling data from server. Then, it will much faster. It is very good if you don't have many changes for your page. Like about page, login page, landing page,... you won't often change or don't often have a new data so these pages is good to use SSG.
Usually, you don't have all these technique in your application cause no framework support all these rendering technique yet until Nextjs. Before Nextjs, if you want SSR, you may go with pure PHP, Laravel + Blade or Symfony + Twig. If you want CSR, definitely go with React, Vue or Angular and SSG will a place where you want to use gatsby. In Nextjs, you can choose the rendering technique you want. Thus, you can have page A with SSR, page B with CSR, page C with SSG. How cool is that?
To boost your site faster, you need to care about many things like code splitting, minifying files, image optimaztion, the way to get assets and many more. Thankfully, with Nextjs, you don't need to care much about this. If you use correct component which are provide by Nextjs, it will do all the heavy job for you. Small example is that when you have an image on your site, you need to take care very 2 basic things. First of all, you need to have difference size of that image for difference viewport. Secondly, you want your page only load that image when user near to it, so you will have very long page and of course, you don't want to load image at the end of that page where user don't see it when the page is loaded. When user scroll down near to the end, that image will be load. Therefore, to solve these two problems, you need add srcset and apply lazy load to your image. With simple component
Image, it handle these two things automatically.
In Nextjs, it route base on file. In my opinion, it is more friendly for routing base on file. In case I want to find component for route
/posts/, I can easily know that I need to go to index file in posts folder. No need to go to see which component is used for that route.
Nextjs provide a Head component. With this component, you can always add description, title, meta tag on header in Nextjs. For that reason, it will be better for SEO.
That's is a short introduction to nextjs. In recap, it provides us many ways to render page, help we improve performance, routing base on file, provide us a way to SEO and much more.
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