Lately, Gatsby and Next.js have been dominating the React user base. While they are both React-based front-end frameworks, Gatsby and Next.js have distinct differences that define them individually. The similarities can sometimes make it difficult to choose between them for building applications, so developers analyze their unique features to help them select which applies best to each use case.
Read on to understand the fundamentals of Gatsby and Next.js as we highlight the differences between the two frameworks and what you need to know about choosing the right one.
At a basic level, Gatsby and Next.js provide similar React front-end enhancements that improve both the developer and user experiences. Both frameworks allow you to create versatile React web applications using features like Server-Side Rendering, Static Site Generation, and other external elements that may not be supported on React.
Gatsby is a front-end tool typically used with an external data source, such as an API or a database. This framework is one of the easiest to integrate with your existing tech stack. Gatsby sites can be hosted anywhere and are flexible for each use case.
By design, Gatsby's features do not come immediately included - meaning connecting with other tools and libraries is done through plugins. This makes Gatsby the most extensive partner ecosystem, through its immense plugin library that provides developers with starters, templates, and the ability to easily extend the capabilities of their application.
While Gatsby offers faster enhancements, its usage has certain limitations. For instance, data fetching can only be done using GraphQL, a data query language for APIs that provides a comprehensive description of the data in your API. Because these updates and changes require a rebuild that may only be done using GraphQL, it makes it difficult and less accessible for developers who are unfamiliar with GraphQL.
Next.js is a React framework designed to help developers create fast web applications. It provides additional structure, features, and optimizations for your web application, by managing the tools and configuration needed for React production.
Next.js is built on an extensive system known as Vercel, which works to ensure easy integration of the Next.js app with other popular languages, tools, and libraries. This system enhances developer experience through production-level features like code-splitting, bundling, routing, image optimization, and internationalization that don’t require intensive configuration.
When categorizing the differences between Gatsby and Next.js, there are three primary distinctions: the process and management of data fetching, server usage, and the fundamental structure of each framework's ecosystem.
Let’s compare the two frameworks by category:
As mentioned earlier, Gatsby and Next.js offer similar benefits for developers and end users. Depending on your choice of solution, these React frameworks can build a production-ready site in a short time without intensive configuration.
Deciding which framework to use may depend on each use case; however, other factors can also influence this decision. For example, an e-commerce store that changes its site daily may require the Next.js server-rendering option, while developers with a strong preference for GraphQL would prefer the fast, easy, and flexible advantage of Gatsby's plugin ecosystem. If you want complete control of the code that sources and manipulates your data, and you like testing out the latest and most outstanding React features (like the React Server Components), then Next.js is the right tool for you. While Next.js is catching up to Gatsby with on-demand Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR), Gatsby offers more stability and consistency with its Deferred Static Generation (DSG).
Choosing the right tool for your dev projects requires expert knowledge and careful consideration. At Outliant, we offer startups digital support and development that enhances their digital presence, reaching their target goals and market. So, if you're looking to integrate or update your website using any React framework, schedule a call with us, and let us walk you through it.