How to build a server side rendered React app with Next.js?

Estimated read time 3 min read

Server-side rendering (SSR) is a powerful technique that allows you to render your React app on the server before sending it to the client. This can improve performance and SEO, especially for content-rich websites. Next.js is a popular framework for building server-side rendered React apps. Here’s how you can build a server-side rendered React app with Next.js:

  1. Set up a new Next.js project: You can use the create-next-app command to create a new Next.js project. Open a terminal window and run the following command:
npx create-next-app my-app

This will create a new Next.js project in a folder called my-app.

  1. Create pages: In Next.js, each page is a React component that can be rendered on the server or the client. Create a folder called pages in your project root directory and create a new file called index.js in it. Add the following code to the file:
function HomePage() {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Hello, world!</h1>
    </div>
  );
}

export default HomePage;

This defines a new page component called HomePage that simply renders a heading.

  1. Run the development server: Run the following command in your terminal to start the Next.js development server:
npm run dev

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

  1. Verify SSR: Open the web browser’s developer tools and go to the Network tab. Reload the page and look for a response with a Content-Type header of text/html. This indicates that the page was rendered on the server and sent to the client.
  2. Add data fetching: You can fetch data from external APIs or databases in your Next.js app. One way to do this is to define a getServerSideProps function in your page component. This function runs on the server and can fetch data before rendering the page. Here’s an example:
import fetch from 'isomorphic-unfetch';

function HomePage({ articles }) {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Latest articles</h1>
      <ul>
        {articles.map((article) => (
          <li key={article.id}>{article.title}</li>
        ))}
      </ul>
    </div>
  );
}

export async function getServerSideProps() {
  const res = await fetch('https://api.example.com/articles');
  const articles = await res.json();

  return { props: { articles } };
}

export default HomePage;

This defines a new page component called HomePage that fetches a list of articles from an API and displays them in a list. The getServerSideProps function fetches the data from the API before rendering the page on the server. The articles data is passed to the page component as a prop.

  1. Deploy your app: Once you have built your Next.js app, you can deploy it to a hosting service like Vercel or AWS. Make sure to configure your server environment variables and other settings before deploying.

These are the basic steps for building a server-side rendered React app with Next.js. You can add more pages, components, and features to your app as needed. Next.js also provides features like automatic code splitting, static site generation, and more.

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