Full-stack apps

Web pages are generally made of “data” + “markup”.

E.g. your personal landing page:

The data is the information about you.

The markup is the HTML that contains that info.

Sometimes your data is static (doesn’t change much).

You can get away with writing the HTML in advance.

Your server (or Netlify’s) just responds with the static .html file.

Sometimes your data is dynamic (changes on each request).

You need to generate each page on demand.

This can happen on the server or client.

Generating pages on the server is simpler and safer.

Doing it on the client allows for more dynamic interaction.

What if we could do both, in the same app?


Next is a framework for building websites with React.

React doesn’t provide many of the things websites need.

E.g. routing, server-rendering, data fetching

Next creates “isomorphic” JavaScript apps.

They render on the server and the client.

The inital page load is server-rendered HTML.

Then (once JS loads) it all runs client-side.

This is a compromise between initial performance (show HTML fast)

and interactivity on the client.

How it works

You create React components in a pages/ directory.

// pages/Index.js

function Index() {
return <h1>Hello world</h1>;

export default Index;

Next’s Node server creates a route for this.

server.get("/", (req, res) => {
const component = ReactServer.renderToString(<Index />);
const html = `
<div id="root">
<script src="client-bundle.js"></script>

It renders your app once on the server to get HTML.

It renders your app again on the client to “hydrate”.

// client-bundle.js

ReactDOM.hydrate(<Index />, document.querySelector("#root"));

This tells React to connect to existing DOM nodes.

Before this “hydration” happens the user can still see the HTML.

Once hydration finishes you have a client-side app.

Backend stuff

Next also supports “API routes”.

These are routes that don’t render React components.

Instead they return JSON.

You create files inside pages/api/.

These will be used as handlers for the matching route.

// pages/api/user.js

function user(req, res) {
res.status(200).json({ name: "John Doe" });

export default user;

This lets you build an API route to fetch JSON from.

Simpler than having to create and deploy a whole separate server.

Different page types

Next supports both server-rendered pages and static

Page components have two options for getting data:

  1. export a getStaticProps function, or
  2. export a getServerSideProps function

This is where you e.g. query your database.

getStaticProps marks the page as static.

Next will build this to an .html file when you deploy your site.

Your server avoids making a dynamic route for this page.

getServerSideProps marks the page as dynamic.

Next will re-create the page on every request.

This way the data will always be up-to-date.

export async function getServerSideProps(context) {
const data = await db.query("SELECT * FROM products");
return {
props: { products },

The returned props are passed to the component:

function Index({ products }) {
return (
{products.map((product) => (

This makes data-fetching simpler and safer.

Code used in here will only run on the server.

So it’s safe to use secrets, talk to the DB etc.

Warning: getStaticProps is not a good default.

Consider this an optimisation—always start with getServerSideProps until you’re sure this page’s data never changes.

E.g. if you use getStaticProps for a DB query.

When the DB is updated while the app is running you’ll see old data until the app is re-deployed.

Next has a ton of other features.

It’s mostly just a nice way to build “proper” websites.

They have a great interactive tutorial: