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What is Next.js?

Next.js is an open-source meta-framework for React which brings powerful features such as server-side rendering, static site generation and file based routing. Maintained and developed by the popular hosting platform Vercel, Next.js is by far one of the most popular web frameworks to date and is being used by some of the biggest companies in the world, with examples such as Netflix, TikTok and Notion.

Next.js was first introduced in October 2016 as an out-of-the-box solution for building React applications including per-route code splitting, server-side rendering and simplified deployments. The framework has since then grown to massive popularity and introduced even more features and tooling such as incremental static regeneration (ISR), a custom Rust compiler for faster build times and an image-optimization component (next/image).

In Next.js version 8, Vercel (then called Zeit) introduced "serverless mode", enabling serverless compute for Next.js pages and API routes, paving the way for a new infrastructure-as-code paradigm for JavaScript frameworks in which developers need to focus less on server compute and infrastructure. This way of building web applications has since then evolved into the "framework-defined infrastructure" philosophy, which has also been taken up by frameworks such as Nuxt and SvelteKit.

Next.js is currently at version 13, which has brought some of the most innovative (and controversial) new features to the framework to date. Version 13 introduced the new _app router_ which replaced the old _pages_ router (though with backwards compatibility). While the app router still uses file-based routing, it is built to be used with React server components (RSC) which allow for more granular server access throughout React components. The move to RSCs has made Next.js a more server-oriented framework whereas it was previously used mostly for building static sites.

Next.js features

Meta-framework features

Server-Side Rendering (SSR)

Static Site Generation (SSG)


API endpoints

Next.js alternatives