Editor’s Note: This post was reviewed for accuracy on 11 April 2023. Since publication, Next.js v13.3 was released with features such as the file-based Metadata API, dynamic open graph images, and static export for the
app router. Nuxt.js also released v3.3, which includes minor feature updates. You can read more about Nuxt.js and Next.js in our archive.
With the constant emergence of new tools and technologies in the web development ecosystem, it can be challenging for an aspiring developer to choose a particular language, tool, or framework. As an experienced developer, it is essential to have a quality tech stack and constantly evaluate which of these many tech stacks is best for you and your team.
Next.js is a React-based framework created by Vercel and used to build performant static web applications. Next.js offers client-side and server-side rendering features and is used to develop fullstack React applications. On the other hand, Nuxt.js is an open source Vue-based framework used to build complex and universal Vue applications that take advantage of the best technologies in a fast, easy, and organized way.
Aside from their similar names, these two frameworks share many similarities and provide comprehensive support for building web applications. By the article’s conclusion, you will have a good understanding of the differences between Next.js and Nuxt.js and will be able to make an informed decision on which framework is best for you.
This article provides an overview of two Jamstack frameworks: Next.js and Nuxt.js, including their pros, cons, features, and use cases.
- What is Next.js?
- Next.js use cases
- Pros of using Next.js
- Cons of using Next.js
- Getting started with Next.js
- What is Nuxt.js?
- Nuxt.js use cases
- Pros of using Nuxt.js
- Cons of using Nuxt.js
- Getting started with Nuxt.js
- Comparing Next.js and Nuxt.js
What is Next.js?
Next.js is an open source, React-based framework that lets you create hybrid apps that combine server-rendered and statically generated web pages using React. Its authors tout it as a zero-configuration, single-command toolchain for React projects. Next.js enables developers to use React to make exceptionally user-friendly websites and applications that are highly functional.
For the creation of static websites and online applications, Next.js offers some incredible features:
File-based system routing
In Next.js, a page is a React component that routes based on its file name. To enable routing in our Next app, Next.js uses a file-based system. It automatically treats every file within the
pages folder as a route. Next.js has different route patterns:
- Index routes: Next.js router automatically serves files named
pagesfolder as the default route for each directory:
next-app └── pages └── index.js // path: base-url (/) next-app └── pages └── blog.js // path: /blog
- Nested routes: Next.js allows you to create nested routes. By defining the nested folder structure, the files will automatically be routed. Nested routes help eliminate path redundancy:
next-app └── pages ├── index.js // top index route └── posts // nested route └── index.js // path: /posts
- Dynamic segment routes: using brackets
([param]), Next.js allows you to define dynamic routes for your app. You can use a dynamic name on your pages in place of one that is static:
next-app └── pages ├── index.js // top index route └── blog └── [slug].js // path: /blog/:slug
Find out more about how the routes operate by looking at the documentation:
Next.js v13 changes how many operations were previously performed. It still supports the same file system-based routing, which uses the
pagesdirectory, but it is used for client-side routing. It adopted a new way of routing using the
appdirectory which is used for server-side routing. Learn more about Next v13 routing.
Data fetching in Next.js allows you to render your data in different ways, depending on the use case of your application. These include server-side rendering, static generation for pre-rendering, and incremental static regeneration for updating or producing content during runtime.
To make your application more efficient on the client side, Next.js uses the server-side rendering technique to offload any data fetching to the server. Next.js allows data to be fetched on the server and send a pre-built page with all the necessary data requested by the client.
We can prevent problems like a fluttering page while data is being fetched using SSR in Next.js, and the content of our website will be SEO-friendly.
Next.js provides a wide range of built-in capabilities that help improve your app. Next.js offers many React components. For example, Next.js uses the
next/link component to link different pages and pre-fetch and pre-load the next pages a user might visit.
Next.js also offers other built-in React components such as the
next/image component for image optimization, the
next/script component for script loading strategies, and the
next/font component for automatic font optimization. The ability to quickly include custom fonts and better privacy and speed are all provided without making any external network calls.
Automatic code splitting
Another unique feature of Next.js in building full-stack applications is the API routes. Next.js API routes provide a means to develop your API. Also, using API routes, Next.js enables developers to add API endpoints to their apps.
Next.js use cases
Next.js allows users to build digital products with different goals and purposes. However, there are specific situations when its advantages, features, and the fact that it uses server-side rendering make it the best option. Here are a few popular products you can develop with Next.js:
Big eCommerce and retail websites
Next.js server-side rendering and static site generator make it a good option to develop products that allow users to purchase and sell physical goods, services, and digital products online rather than at an actual store. With its full-stack capabilities, it can handle orders and receive payments.
Next.js gives users the ability to make frequent changes that are visible instantly using its incremental static regeneration feature, custom user experience, fast page load speed, and the ability to integrate with third-party systems.
Jamstack is a distinct method for creating apps and websites that solely focus on improved performance, increased security, lower scaling costs, and SEO-friendly and optimized development.
Next.js uses two fundamental concepts of the Jamstack architecture, pre-rendering and decoupling, to create sites and applications to be delivered with greater assurance and resilience.
Progressive Web Applications (PWA)
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It is a fantastic solution for low conversion rates in your online store and poor mobile UX. PWA aims to provide a native-like user experience using common technologies, with quicker conversion and cleaner browsing even on slow or no internet connections, sending push notifications, and using the features of user devices. Examples of such applications are Google and Microsoft.
Other websites that can be developed using Next.js are:
- Large multi-user websites
- Mobile apps
- MVPs (Minimum Viable Products)
- Static websites
- Client-side rendered applications (SPA/MPA)
- Web Portals
- B2B and SaaS websites
- Finance websites
Pros of using Next.js
Next.js offers many advantages and can be used to achieve different goals. Next.js is not only beneficial to developers, but also to business owners and markets.
For developers, Next.js offers many benefits. It allows them to generate static webpages and dynamically render them using Next.js SSR features. Next.js also helps developers improve the user experience by giving them more control over app design. Websites and apps built using Next.js are easy to deploy anywhere with Node.js support.
Business owners benefit a lot from using Next.js. It protects your data by ensuring there is no direct connection to the database, dependencies, user data, or any other sensitive information.
Next.js ensures that your websites and applications have a great user experience and can adjust to any device screen size. It also allows you to develop MVPs and enhanced applications that are made possible by pre-built React components. This way, you can receive feedback rapidly and make necessary product improvements without losing time or money. With Next.js, users can build omnichannel digital products.
For marketers, making websites and online applications quick, light, and simple to scan is essential for boosting Google results. Next.js delivers marketers with SEO efficiency and organic traffic growth. Additionally, organic traffic grows as Google rankings do, which eventually boosts conversion and sales rates.
Cons of Next.js
Despite its quick development and the addition of numerous features, Next.js still has significant drawbacks and issues.
Next.js file-based system routing makes it not very flexible when it comes to routing. The default technique is page-based, in which you define whether the pages should be generated server-side, client-side, or static. This technique can be good for small applications, but when the application becomes complex, it can be tedious because you’ll be required to write a lot more code and make use of Node.js servers.
It takes time to convert a server-side app to Next.js, and depending on your project, it can be too much work. Next.js also has limited plugin support, which necessitates building the front-end layer from scratch, and making occasional improvements requires the expertise of a developer.
Getting started with Next.js
create-next-app command is the most straightforward approach to getting a Next.js application up and running. This is a tool that makes use of starter templates:
npx create-next-app@latest # or yarn create next-app # or pnpm create next-app
It also gives you an easy integration with Typescript that is already configured for you out of the box:
npx create-next-app@latest --typescript # or yarn create next-app --typescript # or pnpm create next-app --typescript
What is Nuxt.js?
Nuxt.js is a meta-framework that is built on top of Vue.js, Node.js, Webpack, and Babel.js, to design and develop complex, fast, and universal Vue applications.
With fantastic developer experience, Nuxt.js strives to make web application development resilient and effective. By taking care of server-side details and client code distribution, Nuxt.js allows developers to concentrate on creating applications using the amazing features it offers. The foundation of Vue.js projects is Nuxt.js, which provides strong frameworks for creating applications with enough flexibility.
For the creation of static websites and online applications, Nuxt.js offers useful features. Some of these features include:
Nuxt.js automatically imports helper functions, composables, and Vue APIs for use throughout your application without requiring you to import them explicitly. It uses these functions to execute data fetching, gain access to app context and runtime configuration, manage state, and define components and plugins.
Nuxt.js built-in composables like
useHead and components like
NuxtLink are made available to you in any file in Nuxt.js without the need to explicitly import them. All files in the component directory with file extensions of
.tsx together with any modules’ registered components are automatically imported by Nuxt.js:
nuxt-app └── components ├── Header.vue └── Footer.vue
<template> <section> <Header /> <slot /> <Footer /> </section> </template>
Simply put, every component or composable you develop for your project is instantly made available in every page folder without explicitly importing them.
Nuxt.js also allows you to automatically import the Composition API function that you write from the composable directory as well as plugins. Nuxt.js prevents name collisions by displaying a warning when one happens. Automatic imports greatly reduce development time and enhance the entire process.
Supporting every project’s needs out of the box when creating production-grade apps using Nuxt.js would make your Nuxt app extremely complex and challenging to operate. This is why Nuxt.js provides a module system that allows you to extend the core functionality of your Nuxt.js application and enhance integration with any third-party library, such as Tailwind, Axios, Cloudinary, etc. This module system is a function that is called sequentially when running your Nuxt instance.
With Nuxt.js modules, you don’t have to develop your app from scratch or maintain a boilerplate if a Nuxt module already exists for it. Using
nuxt.config, Nuxt modules can be added to your project under the
modules property. Some modules have previously reserved settings in the Nuxt.js command-line interface in the terminal
npx create-nuxt-app. Other community modules need to be manually installed in the project terminal using
npm and the module name.
Nuxt.js supports hybrid rendering that lets you use route rules, which determine how the server should respond to a new request on a specific URL, enabling various caching rules per route. It also allows us to leverage features like incremental static generation, which combines SSR with SSG.
Instead of having a blank
Nuxt.js has a robust server engine called Nitro. This server engine is what powers Nuxt apps. Several exciting features are made possible by the server engine, including cross-platform support for Node.js, Deno, service workers, and other technologies. It provides serverless support, automatic code splitting, async-loaded chunks, and development servers with hot module reloading. The platform-independent nature of Nitro enables the display of Nuxt applications at the edge, closer to your users, enabling replication and further optimization.
File system routing
Routing is referred to as when an application requires more than one page and a mechanism to move between them. Nuxt.js leverages the Vue Router module to easily generate routes that are mapped to your files using the
pages directory and naming conventions.
Nuxt.js allows you to build routes in your online application using file-based routing and Vue Router as the backend. Nuxt.js provides a bespoke route middleware framework that is ideal for extracting code you want to run before navigating to a particular route throughout your application.
Data fetching is the act of retrieving data from the server and returning it to the client-side component when it mounts, allowing the component instant access to this data. As a result, the data won’t need to load. Nuxt.js allows you to fetch data from any source in your Vue components and pages with SSR-ready capabilities. Nuxt.js also allows you to manage data fetching for your application using the
Nuxt.js use cases
It is feasible to use Nuxt.js in different use cases. But there are particular situations where Nuxt.js excels and developers can make the most of it:
Universal applications are applications that use a server-side rendering technique to get client-side data before fully rendering the page on the client browser. A universal web app is a single-page application that preloads on a server and sends rendered HTML as a response to a browser request for every route. This reduces load times and boosts search engine optimization by making it simpler for Google to crawl the web page.
Nuxt.js helps you create universal web apps easily, and it gives you project structure, takes care of the problematic server configuration for you, and enables the deployment of the same codebase across numerous environments.
Single-page applications (SPA)
A single-page application (SPA) is a web application or website that dynamically rewrites the current page rather than reloading it. SPA is an ideal option for a website where the user or visitor and the website are constantly interacting.
With Nuxt.js, you can build SPAs and websites that make fast transitions, with great user experience, greater performance, and security.
Static generated pages
Nuxt.js allows you to serve dynamic pages built in Vue as HTML and provides you with benefits like SEO, speed, and caching with CDNs. It also lets you easily source data from external sources such as headless CMSs.
Other use cases:
- Server-Side Rendering (SSR)
Pros of using Nuxt.js
Similar advantages apply to other static site generators like Next.js. You are already aware of one of its special advantages, which is the ability to have both static and dynamic pages at the same time. Here are some other advantages Nuxt.js offers:
- Nuxt.js offers great developer experience. It provides many solutions, detailed error messages, built-in features, and extensive documentation
- Nuxt.js provides versatility between SSR and SSG. It simplifies the creation of a static website based on your Vue application for SSG and offers complete support, using the Node.js server to send HTML content
- The robust module ecosystem and hook engine of NuxtJS enable easy integration to your preferred API endpoints, CMS, CSS frameworks, Google Analytics, etc.
- It offers automatic code splitting, hot module replacement in development, a robust routing system with asynchronous data, and an auto-updating server for easy development out of the box
- Nuxt.js provides you with an opinionated structure and setup for easy development
- Nuxt.js is excellent for SEO. It addresses every problem single-page apps are known for (client-rendered content, mobile web performance, URL and routing, etc.)
Cons of using Nuxt.js
Here are some of the drawbacks of using Nuxt.js:
- Working with custom libraries in Nuxt.js can be difficult
- High traffic to your site can cause server strain in the case of a large, high-traffic application
- You’ll need to render different JSX/functions if you need to develop a highly versatile Vue application, such as when you need to render the contents of a slot in another component
- Props must be specified explicitly. You might want to convert some of the CSS classes into props in particular circumstances; in that case, you must specify every prop or use the
$attrs/rendermethods or JSX
- Nuxt.js lacks certain widely used solid plugins and components like Calendar, vector maps, and Google Maps. However, some components exist that are typically not well maintained. Also, some plugins don’t work on the server side
Getting started with Nuxt.js
Creating a new project in Nuxt is straightforward. Nuxt.js allows you to develop a project using various methods, however, utilizing CLI is the most popular and advised method. With
npx installed on your computer, Nuxt.js allows you to create a new project by running the command below:
npx create-nuxt-app <project name>
After running the command, Nuxt gives a great starting point for organizing your application in an understandable way.
Comparing Next.js and Nuxt.js
- Due to its support for back-end functionality, Next.js is categorized as a full-stack framework for creating server-side rendering React apps. Meanwhile, Nuxt.js is categorized as a frontend framework for building universal Vue apps
- Both are open source, but when it comes to popularity, Next.js has the upper hand due to React being the popular frontend framework
- Nuxt.js is an intuitive Vue framework that comes pre-configured with all the settings required to create Vue apps. Meanwhile, Next.js is a React framework used to build server-side rendering and complex and static React applications
- Nuxt.js modules make integrating new technologies (such as headless CMSes, Stripe, Tailwind) into your website easy and quick. Next.js does not have modules or plugins; developers are required to write extra boilerplate code to get them going. However, this is not necessarily bad because it gives you greater control over the tools you integrate and allows for easier workflow for debugging.
Next.js and Nuxt.js are excellent web frameworks with cutting-edge features, user experience, and performance, embracing the Jamstack architecture that enables you to build fast websites efficiently and reliably.
In this article, you learned about Next.js and Nuxt.js, their features, use cases, pros, cons, and a comparison between the two frameworks. Hopefully, this article gives you insight into which framework is ideal for you and your team.
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