Is there a perfect React-based Framework? Battle of three: Remix, Next.js, and Gatsby
The popularity of React has expanded beyond front-end development, and now it is used for different development purposes. This expansion has led to the appearance of new frameworks driven by the goal of enhancing the developer experience, optimizing processes, and addressing specific challenges. One of the main React challenges was struggles with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because of client-side rendering.
In this article, we will explore 3 React-based frameworks that have gained significant attention - Next.js, Gatsby, and Remix. These frameworks have garnered popularity due to their ability to improve web performance, enhance search engine optimization (SEO), provide an excellent developer experience, and address scalability and maintainability challenges.
This article examines each framework's key features and benefits, highlighting their impact on web development and the overall user experience. Our aim is not to decide which framework is better or more powerful. Instead, we want to figure out which suits your project's needs best.
Next.js is a framework that helps you build static websites and web applications with React that are both lightning-fast and user-friendly.
- The Hybrid Data rendering feature provides the flexibility to present content in various formats based on the specific requirements of your application. There are two main ways to achieve this: server-side rendering (SSR) or static site generation. You can also update or create content through client-side rendering (CSR) or a combination of these methods.
- Turbopack: in v13, they announced the new bundler, which is claimed to work 10 times faster than Vite for large projects. It is stated to be created as the successor to Webpack, but they're not promising support for all Webpack plugins.
- Routing - Next.js allows you to specify routes based on your project's directory structure. By simply adding an entry point to a directory page, you can effortlessly create a new path for your application.
React recommends using frameworks that include routing a feature that most apps and sites eventually need. However, we found some negative reviews on routing online. We also consulted with our team member who tested Next.js; here is his thought on that:
I have found the new App Router introduced in Next.js 13 a very convenient, powerful, and promising feature.
The way routing works is intuitive and straightforward. Folders are used to create segments in the URL path (e.g.,
/settings/security/). To make a leaf segment, create a
page.jsfile in a folder, so the URL path can be publicly accessed. For instance, to define a
/settings/security/passwordURL path, create
settings/security/passwordfolders and place a
page.jsfile in the last folder. See, it's fairly easy!
Moreover, I like how easy it is to set up dynamic routes, which is awesome if you need to create a blog!
Sure, there is room for improvement. But the App Router shows a lot of promise and can make your development process much more smooth and convenient!
- Supports TypeScript and CSS parsers.
- Zero Config – provides automatic compilation and bundling optimized for production immediately.
- Built-in Image Component and Automatic Image Optimization.
- Automatic Code Splitting- reduces the page size by automatically splitting the code. Components are served only when they are needed, resulting in optimized performance. Additionally, modules can be imported automatically too.
- Incremental Static Regeneration - the capability to update your pages by re-rendering them in the background as traffic arrives. This dynamic process transforms static content into dynamic content, ensuring that your website remains up-to-date and responsive to user interactions.
- Fast Refresh - a seamless and rapid live-editing experience. This functionality operates similarly to Hot Module Replacement (HMR), ensuring efficient and effortless development.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Next.js treats SEO as a critical priority and provides a robust platform for achieving quality SEO web metrics in your web application (built-in head component to manage SEO meta information like title, description, canonical, and Open Graph tags Version 13)
- Font optimization
- Image optimization
- Custom head component
- Custom script component
- Custom link component
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for companies seeking online success, as the first five organic search results capture 67.6% of all clicks. Getting to the top of Google search results is crucial for businesses. It helps websites get noticed by potential customers and drives traffic.
- The lack of documentation compared to React makes it challenging for developers, especially newcomers, to find comprehensive resources and guidance.
- Small community compared to React - less available resources, tutorials, and community support for troubleshooting issues or seeking guidance.
- Low on plug-ins - relatively limited selection of easy-to-adapt plugins compared to other frameworks. The poor plugin ecosystem might require you to build custom solutions or spend extra time adapting existing plugins to work with Next.js.
- Making certain changes in Next.js often requires development effort. While Next.js is a flexible framework for web development, it also has a high level of complexity that makes some changes hard to implement.
- No built-in state manager - Next.js does not come with a built-in state management solution. To manage complex application states, developers must rely on external libraries or frameworks such as Redux or MobX.
- Highly opinionated - Next.js has a specific way of doing things, which can be seen as highly opinionated. Developers may need to adjust their coding practices and adhere to the framework's conventions, such as file-based routing.
- High development complexity on the backend side - Next.js primarily focuses on server-side rendering and requires a deeper understanding of backend concepts than other frontend frameworks.
Gatsby is an open-source front-end framework specifically designed for building seamlessly functioning static websites. With Gatsby, users can effortlessly gather information and gain insights from various data sources available within their user base. It is also called a static site generator (SSG).
- Competence to syndicate data from several sources
- Integrates smoothly with a variety of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).
- Have its own hosting Gatsby cloud system ( from 43$/m)
- Built-in performance optimization
- PRPL pattern
- Gatsby Cloud Hosting - own low-cost hosting service that offers fast performance, scalability, and security. There are different pricing options available for different needs ( Starting from 50$ per month).
- A growing community of developers. There are many different communities on GitHub.
- Discord, and other platforms where everyone can find a solution for many problems and issue.
- Plugins: Gatsby has a rich ecosystem of plugins, themes, and starters that integrate smoothly with the framework and offer rich functionality.
- Gatsby provides a wide range of APIs that simplify the development of static websites.
- Easy Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). You can automatically deploy your website to production every time you make a change, saving you time. This can also help to ensure that your website is always up-to-date.
- PRPL - push, render, pre-cache, and lazy-load, a strategy good for devices with poor Internet-connection
- TypeScript and CSS parsers support.
- Limited Dynamic Content Handling: Gatsby is optimized for static sites and static content.
- Increasing Build Time: as Gatsby generates static pages during the build process, build time increases as you have more content.
- Limited Server-Side Rendering Control: Gatsby performs most of the rendering and data fetching during the build process. While it supports server-side rendering, controlling the SSR process or customizing it extensively can be more challenging compared to frameworks explicitly designed for server-side rendering.
(Most cons for Gatsby we have found are written from the moving-from-WordPress-to-Gatsby perspective, just to understand that for most users, Gatsby is a completely different thing from Next.js with different expectations.)
- Understanding a new framework: people that switch from a CMS like WordPress to Gatsby may find it challenging to learn or comprehend the new system, which will temporarily impair productivity.
- Operates as SPA, which means additional configurations for Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics to recognize different routes
Remix is a full-stack web development framework that lets you concentrate on the user interface. It works back through web fundamentals to deliver a quick, slick, and resilient user experience that can be deployed to any Node.js server and it can also be used in non-Node.js environments at the edge, like Cloudflare Workers.
- SSR only
- Nested routes
- No client-side state
- Full-stack framework:
- One framework for both client and server
- Frontend + backend code in one repository
- Uses Fetch API under the hood, for developers, it looks like running server functions directly from the client part.
- Transitions and Optimistic UI
- Remix’s Optimistic UI strategy optimizes the user experience by enabling fast navigation within an app. It creates a single-page-app feel with smoother loading times, all while maintaining server-side rendering capabilities.
- Free templates (they call them stacks) with many features (such as CI/CD, a database, and authentication) make it easy to get started.
- Asset imports functionality - you can import any file to your module, for example, an image.
- All features focused on performance & SSR.
- All React libraries and Typescript can be used with Remix.
- Responsiveness: Remix apps are fast when deployed to the edge and with data cached. In case of a cache miss, however, it may take a while to fetch data and render the UI
- Remix doesn’t support CSS modules (yet)
- Folder routing structure(as in Next.js)
- Remix does not have built-in support for web sockets or SSE (server-sent events)
- No API: frontend and backend code are tightly coupled. Remix touts this as a feature, but some users state they are used to have API
- Small community
- Remix uses a lot of "magic" under the hood, which can make it a great developer experience for projects that fit into the Remix model. However, this can also make it more difficult to customize, because you need to understand how the "magic" works if you want to make changes.
Let's take a closer look at the popularity of these frameworks. First, we will analyze their download statistics from the NPM registry. Over the past year, Next.js has experienced consistent growth, demonstrating its increasing popularity. This trend is also reflected in the Stack Overflow survey of 2023. In the survey's "Most Popular Web Frameworks and Technologies" section, Next.js is ahead of the other two frameworks.
If we dive deeper into previous research, we'll find that Gatsby has been around for quite a while. However, its peak popularity occurred in the years 2020-21. The acquisition of Gatsby by Netlify may rejuvenate its popularity and breathe new life into the platform. While, Next.js appeared in the survey only last year and already entered the top 10 this year.
In conclusion, when considering the options of Next.js, Remix, and Gatsby, it is clear that Next.js stands out as the most mature and established framework. With its larger user base, extensive documentation, and strong community support, Next.js is a reliable choice. It also supports static and dynamic sites, making it a suitable solution for different use cases.
On the other hand, if simplicity, speed, and minimal setup are your priorities, Remix may be a more suitable option. While it is still in development and lacks extensive examples and use cases, it has gained positive feedback from developers and shows promise for the future.
Regarding Gatsby, it has experienced a decline in popularity, but it still remains a faster and lightweight option due to its static site generation capability.
To sum up, if you seek a mature and widely supported framework, Next.js is the recommended choice. For simplicity and speed, Remix shows potential, while Gatsby still offers advantages in performance.
But regardless of what your choice will be, Flexmonster provides a universal wrapper for every React-based framework as they share the basic principles and practices. Check out integration guide with React and learn more on how to use our component in your project.