David's Blog

Next.js Basics

By David Li on Fri, 29 November 2023

Next.js is a React-based framework that provides server-side rendering (SSR) and other powerful features to build web applications. It aims to make building React applications more productive by providing a batteries-included approach to web development.

Some of the key features of Next.js include:

  • Server-side rendering: Next.js provides SSR out of the box, which allows web pages to be pre-rendered on the server and delivered to the client as HTML. This can improve the initial loading speed of a web page and provide better SEO.
  • Automatic code splitting: Next.js automatically splits your code into small chunks and only loads the necessary code for each page, which can improve performance and reduce the initial load time.
  • Client-side routing: Next.js provides a simple and intuitive client-side routing system, which allows you to create dynamic client-side pages without reloading the entire page.
  • API routes: Next.js provides an easy way to define serverless functions that can handle API requests. This allows you to build APIs without the need for a separate server.
  • CSS-in-JS: Next.js provides built-in support for CSS-in-JS solutions like styled-components and CSS modules.
  • Static site generation: Next.js allows you to generate a static site with all the pages pre-rendered at build time, which can provide even better performance and security.

Next.js is designed to work seamlessly with React and provides a powerful set of tools to build high-performance web applications. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its ease of use and powerful features, making it a great choice for web developers looking to build modern web applications.

Server-side rendering (SSR) is the process of rendering a web page on the server and sending the pre-rendered HTML to the client instead of rendering it on the client side using JavaScript. This means that the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript needed to display the web page are already included in the response from the server, which can provide significant benefits for web applications.

One of the main advantages of SSR is improved performance and search engine optimization (SEO). Since the server sends pre-rendered HTML to the client, the client doesn’t have to wait for the JavaScript to load and execute before rendering the web page. This can significantly reduce the time it takes for the web page to load, especially on slow or unreliable network connections. Pre-rendering can also improve SEO since search engine crawlers can more easily index the content of the web page when it is pre-rendered on the server.

SSR can also improve the accessibility and user experience (UX) of web applications. Since the web page is pre-rendered on the server, it can be displayed even if the client’s device or browser doesn’t support JavaScript or if JavaScript is disabled. This means that the web page is more accessible to a wider range of users and provides a more consistent user experience across different devices and platforms.

Next.js is a popular framework that provides built-in support for SSR in React applications. It uses Node.js to pre-render the web pages on the server and sends the pre-rendered HTML to the client. This allows developers to build high-performance and SEO-friendly web applications using React without sacrificing the benefits of SSR.

To create a Next.js application with TypeScript, you can follow these steps:

  1. Install the required dependencies by running the following command:
npx create-next-app my-app --typescript

This will create a new Next.js application with TypeScript support.

  1. Open the tsconfig.json file in the root directory of your project and make sure it has the following settings:
{
 "compilerOptions": {
 "target": "es5",
 "lib": ["dom", "dom.iterable", "esnext"],
 "allowJs": true,
 "skipLibCheck": true,
 "strict": true,
 "forceConsistentCasingInFileNames": true,
 "noEmit": true,
 "esModuleInterop": true,
 "module": "esnext",
 "moduleResolution": "node",
 "resolveJsonModule": true,
 "isolatedModules": true,
 "jsx": "preserve"
 },
 "include": ["next-env.d.ts", "\*\*/\*.ts", "\*\*/\*.tsx"],
 "exclude": ["node\_modules"]
}

This configures TypeScript to use the correct settings for Next.js.

  1. Create a new file called _app.tsx in the pages directory. This file will be used to configure the global styles and components of your application.
import { AppProps } from "next/app";
import "../styles/globals.css";

function MyApp({ Component, pageProps }: AppProps) {
 return <Component {...pageProps} />;
}

export default MyApp;
  1. Create a new file called index.tsx in the pages directory. This file will be used to create the home page of your application.
import type { NextPage } from "next";
import Head from "next/head";

const Home: NextPage = () => {
 return (
 <div>
 <Head>
 <title>My Next.js App</title>
 <meta name="description" content="My awesome Next.js app!" />
 <link rel="icon" href="/favicon.ico" />
 </Head>

 <main>
 <h1>Welcome to my Next.js app!</h1>
 </main>
 </div>
 );
};

export default Home;
  1. Start the development server by running the following command:
npm run dev

This will start the development server and open your application in a web browser at http://localhost:3000.

That’s it! You now have a basic Next.js application with TypeScript support up and running. From here, you can start building out the rest of your application using the power of Next.js and TypeScript.

Here are some best practices for using Next.js with React:

  1. Use getStaticProps or getServerSideProps for fetching data: Next.js provides these two functions that allow you to fetch data at build time or request time respectively. This helps improve performance by pre-rendering pages with data and reducing the amount of work the client needs to do.
  2. Use dynamic imports for code splitting: Next.js has built-in support for code splitting, which allows you to split your code into smaller chunks that can be loaded on-demand. Use dynamic imports to load only the components and modules that are needed on a specific page, rather than loading everything upfront.
  3. Use the public folder for static assets: The public folder is the place to put static assets like images, fonts, and other files that need to be served as-is. Files in this folder are not processed by Webpack and are copied directly to the build folder.
  4. Use the Head component for managing metadata: The Head component from next/head allows you to manage the metadata for your pages, such as the title, description, and keywords. Use this component to ensure that your pages have appropriate metadata for SEO and accessibility purposes.
  5. Use the Link component for client-side navigation: The Link component from next/link allows you to navigate between pages on the client side without a full page refresh. This can provide a smoother user experience and reduce the amount of time it takes to load new pages.
  6. Use the Image component for images: The Image component from next/image provides automatic image optimization and responsive image loading. This can help improve performance and reduce the amount of data that needs to be transferred to the client.
  7. Use CSS modules for styling: Next.js has built-in support for CSS modules, which allow you to write scoped CSS that only applies to specific components. This can help prevent CSS collisions and make your code more maintainable.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your Next.js application is performant, scalable, and easy to maintain.

Deploying a Next.js application to Vercel is a straightforward process:

  1. First, make sure you have a Vercel account. If you don’t have one, sign up for free at https://vercel.com/signup.
  2. Once you’re logged in to your Vercel account, click on the “Import Project” button.
  3. Select your Next.js project from your local machine and upload it to Vercel.
  4. Vercel will automatically detect that your project is a Next.js application and provide you with some basic configuration options.
  5. Review the settings and customize them if necessary.
  6. Once you’re happy with the settings, click on the “Deploy” button.
  7. Vercel will build and deploy your application to their servers. This process may take a few minutes.
  8. Once the deployment is complete, you can access your application at the URL provided by Vercel.
  9. You can also configure custom domains, SSL certificates, and other advanced settings through the Vercel dashboard.

Overall, deploying a Next.js application to Vercel is a simple process that can be completed in just a few minutes. Vercel also provides a range of advanced features and integrations that can help you optimize your application’s performance and scalability.

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