Understanding the Differences between React JS and Next JS A Beginner's Guide to Next JS

React JS vs Next JS, Learning Next JS Basics, Guide to React JS Features,

Sumeet Shroff
By Sumeet Shroff
April 21, 2024
Understanding the Differences between React JS and Next JS A Beginner's Guide to Next JS

React JS Vs Next JS: Understanding the Differences

Welcome to your comprehensive guide to React JS and Next JS! As a web developer, you've probably heard of these two JavaScript libraries and frameworks. But what's the difference? Which one should you use for your next project? And how do you even get started?

Let's break it down and dispel the confusion surrounding React JS and Next JS.

What is React JS?

React JS, also simply known as React, is an open-source JavaScript library for building user interfaces or UI components. Developed by Facebook, it's been a game-changer in the world of web development since its launch in 2013.

React JS allows developers to create large web applications that can update and render efficiently without requiring the page to reload. This is achieved using components that manage their state, resulting in a highly efficient and fast web application.

React JS's features include the ability to create reusable UI components, a virtual DOM that optimizes rendering and improves performance, and an easy-to-understand programming model that enhances readability and maintainability of the source code.

// A simple example of a React JS component

function Welcome(props) {
  return <h1>Hello, {props.name}</h1>;
}

const element = <Welcome name="Sara" />;
ReactDOM.render(element, document.getElementById("root"));

What is Next JS?

Next JS, on the other hand, is a React-based framework developed by Vercel. It offers a developer-friendly environment with features such as server-side rendering and generating static websites for React based web applications. It's hugely beneficial for SEO outcomes and initial load times, an area where traditional React apps can struggle.

Next JS is a perfect tool for building production-ready applications. It has automatic code splitting, filesystem-based routing, support for CSS and Sass, and built-in API capabilities.

// A simple example of a Next JS component

import Link from "next/link";

function Home() {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Welcome to Next.js!</h1>
      <Link href="/about">
        <a>About</a>
      </Link>
    </div>
  );
}

export default Home;

React JS vs Next JS

So, when comparing React JS and Next JS, what are the key differences?

Firstly, React JS is a library, while Next JS is a framework. This means that Next JS offers more out-of-the-box features than React JS, but it also requires more conventions and a steeper learning curve.

React JS is excellent for building fast and interactive user interfaces, while Next JS is better suited for SEO-friendly, server-rendered React applications.

In terms of performance, React JS's virtual DOM improves the performance of applications by efficient rendering of components. In contrast, Next JS improves performance through server-side rendering, which allows content to be indexed by search engines.

Learning React JS and Next JS

Now that you understand the basics of React JS and Next JS, where do you go from here?

For beginners, it might be easier to start with React JS because it's a smaller library and has a larger community and more resources for learning. There are plenty of tutorials and guides available, from written content to video courses.

// A common pattern in React is for a component to return multiple elements.

function ListItem({ value }) {
  // Correct! There is no need to specify the key here:
  return <li>{value}</li>;
}

function NumberList({ numbers }) {
  const listItems = numbers.map((number) => (
    // Correct! Key should be specified inside the array.
    <ListItem key={number.toString()} value={number} />
  ));
  return <ul>{listItems}</ul>;
}

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
ReactDOM.render(
  <NumberList numbers={numbers} />,
  document.getElementById("root")
);

Once you're comfortable with React, you can move on to Next JS. The transition should be easier because Next JS is built on top of React. Again, there are many resources available to help you learn, from official documentation to community-driven content.

// Next.js has built-in support for CSS and Sass which allows you to import .css and .scss files.

// Using CSS Modules
import styles from "./button.module.css";

function Button() {
  return <button className={styles.error}>Destroy</button>;
}

export default Button;

Final Thoughts

In the grand scheme of web development, the choice between React JS and Next JS isn't a choice at all. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these will help you make the right decision for your specific project needs.

Whether you're learning React JS or Next JS, remember that the journey is as important as the destination. Don't rush through the tutorials and guides. Take your time to understand the concepts, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you're stuck. Happy coding!

Sumeet Shroff

Sumeet Shroff

Sumeet Shroff, an accomplished author and web development expert, specializes in Understanding the Differences between React JS and Next JS, offering comprehensive guides for beginners on React JS features, Next JS features, and their comparison to equip learners with the basics and essentials of these two powerful tools through practical React JS and Next JS tutorials.

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