React.js vs Next.js - A step by step comparison

by SWHabitation
Jan 29, 2024


In today’s ever-evolving web development landscape, React.js and the Next.js frameworks have taken the lead in creating modern, efficient, and user-friendly web applications. React.js is the JavaScript library for creating user interfaces. Next.js, on the other hand, is a framework based on React.js that provides additional functionality and features.

In this blog, we’ll look at the key distinctions between the two frameworks to help you decide which one is right for you.


React.js is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces efficiently. Developed by Facebook, React was launched in 2013 and quickly became popular for its cutting-edge UI development methodology. The core of React is a component-oriented architecture, which allows developers to build modular and reusable parts of the UI. This component-oriented architecture makes web applications easier to maintain and scale, allowing developers to better manage complex UIs.

One of React’s unique characteristics is the Virtual DOM. Instead of manipulating the browser’s DOM every time you make a change, React uses a virtual DOM in memory. The virtual DOM allows React to update only those parts of the DOM that need to be changed, minimising the performance overhead of constant DOM manipulation. React apps usually run faster and are more responsive, resulting in a better user experience.

React has become an essential part of modern web development, with a thriving community and ecosystem. Its flexibility, productivity, and focus on component reuse make it an excellent choice for creating dynamic and interactive user experiences in a scalable and scalable way.

Key Features of React.js

  • Virtual DOM [Document Object Model] Optimization: React renders using a virtual DOM. Rather than updating the entire DOM every time a change occurs, React updates the virtual DOM first and then finds the fastest way to update the real DOM. This improves performance and user experience.
  • Component-Based Architecture: React’s component-based architecture divides the user interface (UI) into separate and reusable parts. This makes large-scale applications easier to manage as changes can be made to individual components without impacting the whole application.
  • Unidirectional Data Flow: React has a one-way data flow. This means that all data changes in your application follow a one-way direction. This allows you to see how data is changing over time, makes debugging easier, and avoids common problems related to 2nd-way data binding.
  • Declarative Syntax: React’s declarative design model describes how the user interface (UI) should look. With declarative design, developers can specify what they want to see, and React will update the DOM to meet their needs. The declarative design makes the code easier to read and understand.
  • Reusability: React components are built to be reused. Reuse not only accelerates development but also improves code consistency. Developers can build complex user interfaces by combining and reusing smaller components.
  • JSX (JavaScript XML): React uses JavaScript syntax highlighting (JSX). JSX is an extension to JavaScript that allows you to write HTML-style code in JavaScript files. This makes your code easier to read and helps you visualize the UI structure directly in your JavaScript code.
  • Strong Community Support: The React community is one of the largest and most active in the world. This means that there are many resources, tutorials, and third-party libraries available to developers to help them with their development. The community support also means that React is constantly being updated and improved.
  • Ecosystem and Tooling: There are many tools and libraries in the React ecosystem that you can easily add to your projects. For example, you can use tools like Redux to manage your state, React Router to navigate your application, and many more.
  • Performance Optimization: React offers performance management tools, such as memoizing components and using the shouldComponentUpdate lifecycle method to reduce re-rendering time and improve application performance.

React.js has been extensively used to build user interfaces for several popular websites. The platform where React was born, Facebook, uses the library extensively, as do its subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp. React is also used by other major platforms, including Airbnb, Netflix and Twitter, as well as Uber, to improve the fluidity and responsiveness of their web interfaces.

Limitations of React.js:

  • Learning Curve: The learning curve of React can be very steep for beginners, especially if you don’t have a good understanding of JavaScript ES6 syntax, JSX, and concepts such as virtual DOM. React makes building UIs a lot easier, but it also introduces a lot of new concepts for developers to learn.
  • Boilerplate Code: There is a limit to how much boilerplate code you can add to your React application. If you add too much boilerplate code to your React application, your codebase will look verbose. Even if you use a tool like Create React App to quickly set up your project, managing your state and props can add up to quite a bit of code.
  • Complex Configuration: Using a build tool such as Webpack to set up a React project and configure it correctly can be difficult for first-time developers. This complexity may grow as your project grows and you need more tools and optimizations.
  • Performance: While React’s virtual DOM is intended to reduce DOM manipulation by reducing the number of DOM manipulations, this may not always be the case, especially in large applications, where component optimization and performance monitoring tools are essential.
  • SEO Challenges: React apps use a lot of JavaScript, which can be a problem for SEO. While Google and others have gotten better at crawling and indexing JavaScript content, you may still need to use SSR (Server-side rendering) or generate static sites for SEO.


Next.js is one of the most powerful and widely used open-source React frameworks. Next.js was created by Vercel (formerly known as Zeit). Next.js is a complete solution for creating web applications. Next.js combines best practices with tools to simplify the development process. Next.js uses React to build user interfaces while adding essential features such as server-side rendering (SSRD), static site generation (SNG), and efficient routing (Routing).

Next.js is one of the best frameworks for simplifying complex workflows. With an easy-to-use file-based routing, developers can easily create pages. Automatic code splitting reduces application loading time. Next.js supports different styling solutions such as CSS Modules or Styled Components. This makes Next.js flexible and adaptable to different project needs. Next.js also supports native TypeScript, allowing developers to easily incorporate type checking into server-side code as well as client-side.

Whether you’re working on a single project or an entire app, Next.js gives you a structured way of organizing your code and scalability. It’s also flexible enough to support different deployment environments, whether it’s Vercel Netlify AWS, or something else.

Next.js is easy to use for beginners and experienced developers alike. You don’t have to worry about complex configurations. Instead, you can focus on feature development. With an active community, regular updates, and continuous improvements, Next.js is one of the go-to choices in the React ecosystem. With Next.js, you can build fast, SEO-friendly web applications with ease.

Key Features of Next.js

  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR): Next.js supports server-side rendering. This means pages can be shown on the server before being sent to the client. It improves performance, especially for first-page load, and improves search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Static Site Generation (SSG): In addition to Single Sign-On (SSR), Next.js also offers static site generation. Static sites are pages that are built at the time of the build and serve as a static file. This is especially useful for websites that have a lot of content, as it reduces the load on the server.
  • Automatic Code Splitting: Next.js breaks down the JavaScript code into chunks and loads only the code that is needed for the given page. This improves the performance by reducing the initial page load time.
  • Hot Module Replacement (HMR): Next.js also supports Hot Module Replacement (HPMR). With HPMR, developers can view their changes in real-time, without having to refresh the entire page. This helps to speed up development and improve the developer experience.
  • File-based Routing: Next.js is based on file-based routing. The file structure of pages in the “pages” directory defines the application’s URL structure. This makes the routing logic easy to visualize and understand.
  • API Routes: Next.js makes it easy to build API routes by placing files in the “pages/api” folder. This makes it easier to build serverless functions and manage backend logic.
  • Middleware Support: Next.js also supports middleware. This means that developers can run code from the server to the page render. This is useful for things like authentication and fetching data.
  • Built-in CSS Support: Next.js supports native styling solutions such as CSS, Sass, CSS-in-JST, and CSS modules for local scope styles.
  • Environment Variables: Next.js supports environment variables in your app. This makes it simple to set up and manage different environments (development, production, etc.).
  • Internationalization (i18n): Next.js supports internationalization, which makes it easier to develop multilingual apps.
  • TypeScript Support: Next.js supports TypeScript, so you can write React type-safe components as well as other parts of your application.

Next.js is one of the most popular React frameworks for building web apps. Some of the most popular websites and companies that use Next.js are:

Limitations of Next.js

  • Build Time for Large Projects: For bigger projects, the build time can be significantly longer, which affects the speed of development, especially when it comes to static site generation.
  • Server-Side Rendering Overhead: Server-side rendering improves page load times, but server-side rendering introduces server-side load, impacting scalability and driving up hosting costs.
  • Learning Curve for Beginners: There may be a learning curve for React and server-side rendering developers who are new to the React framework and its conventions.
  • Dynamic Routing Challenges: While file-based routing is easy to use, dynamic routing becomes difficult to maintain as your application grows more complex.
  • Asset Size: Automatic code splitting improves page load times. However, this can result in large overall asset sizes if not properly managed.
  • Limited Built-in State Management: Next.js does not have any built-in state manager. Instead, you have to select and deploy your preferred state manager library (like Redux, or Recoil).
  • Limited Built-in Data Fetching Solutions: Next.js does not have any built-in state manager. Instead, you have to select and deploy your preferred state manager library (like Redux, or Recoil).

Let’s take a look at how React differs from Next.js by using code snippets:

In the React example above, we have created a basic component that maintains the count and updates it every time a button is pressed.

Next.js stores your React components in the pages directory. Every file inside the pages folder is a route. For example, in this example, our Home component is linked to the root path ("/").

How to install Jekyll ? A step by step tutorial for beginners

Read more


The answer to the question “Which is better? React.js or Next.js” depends on the project you’re working on. Both are great tools for web development, but they serve different purposes.

While React.js is great for client-side renderings and server-side architecture, Next.js takes React’s strengths to the next level by adding server-side renderings, static site generation, and an easy-to-use routing system based on the file system.

So, what’s the difference between the two? React.js is best for applications that focus on client-side renders and static site generation. Next.js is better for projects that need to render server-side or static sites.

Founder & CEO
Preview PDF