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ExpressJS vs Next.js: What are the differences?

ExpressJS and Next.js are popular frameworks for building web applications, but they have distinct differences in their approach and functionality. Let's explore the key differences between them:

  1. Architecture: ExpressJS is a minimalistic framework. It follows a middleware-based architecture, allowing developers to add custom functionality at each step of the request-response cycle. Next.js, on the other hand, is a higher-level framework built on top of React. It provides a more opinionated architecture with built-in support for server-side rendering, automatic routing, and other advanced features.

  2. Server-side Rendering: ExpressJS primarily focuses on client-side rendering, where the server sends static HTML files to the client, and the client-side JavaScript takes over to handle interactivity. Next.js, on the other hand, excels at server-side rendering (SSR) and offers built-in support for it. SSR enables faster initial page load times, improved SEO, and better user experience.

  3. Routing: ExpressJS offers manual route handling, where developers define routes and associated middleware manually. It provides flexibility but requires explicit route definitions. In contrast, Next.js offers automatic routing based on file structure. Developers can create pages by simply creating corresponding files in the pages directory, and Next.js handles the routing automatically.

  4. Data Fetching: ExpressJS does not provide specific tools or conventions for data fetching. Developers have the freedom to choose their preferred data fetching libraries or approaches. Next.js, however, offers built-in support for data fetching through. These functions allow developers to fetch data during the server-side rendering process and pass it as props to the corresponding components.

  5. Ecosystem and Community: ExpressJS has a mature and extensive ecosystem with a wide range of middleware and libraries available. It has been around for a long time and has a large and active community that contributes to its development and provides support. Next.js, while relatively newer, has gained significant popularity and has a growing ecosystem. It benefits from the robust React ecosystem and community support.

In summary, ExpressJS is a lightweight and flexible framework suitable for building custom APIs and microservices, while Next.js is a higher-level framework that excels at server-side rendering, automatic routing, and data fetching.

Decisions about ExpressJS and Next.js
Lucas Litton
Founder & CEO at Macombey · | 13 upvotes · 550.7K views

Next.js is probably the most enjoyable React framework our team could have picked. The development is an extremely smooth process, the file structure is beautiful and organized, and the speed is no joke. Our work with Next.js comes out much faster than if it was built on pure React or frameworks alike. We were previously developing all of our projects in Meteor before making the switch. We left Meteor due to the slow compiler and website speed. We deploy all of our Next.js projects on Vercel.

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Hey guys,

My backend set up is Prisma / GraphQL-Yoga at the moment, and I love it. It's so intuitive to learn and is really neat on the frontend too, however, there were a few gotchas when I was learning! Especially around understanding how it all pieces together (the stack). There isn't a great deal of information out there on exactly how to put into production my set up, which is a backend set up on a Digital Ocean droplet with Prisma/GraphQL Yoga in a Docker Container using Next & Apollo Client on the frontend somewhere else. It's such a niche subject, so I bet only a few hundred people have got a website with this stack in production. Anyway, I wrote a blog post to help those who might need help understanding it. Here it is, hope it helps!

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Pros of ExpressJS
Pros of Next.js
  • 380
  • 336
  • 244
  • 193
    High performance
  • 152
    Robust routing
  • 73
  • 71
    Open source
  • 59
    Great community
  • 37
    Hybrid web applications
  • 16
    Well documented
  • 9
    Rapid development
  • 9
    Sinatra inspired
  • 7
    Socket connection
  • 7
    Isomorphic js.. superfast and easy
  • 5
    Light weight
  • 4
    Resource available for learning
  • 4
  • 3
    Event loop
  • 3
  • 2
    Data stream
  • 49
    Automatic server rendering and code splitting
  • 43
    Built with React
  • 33
    Easy setup
  • 26
  • 24
    Universal JavaScript
  • 22
    Zero setup
  • 21
    Static site generator
  • 12
    Simple deployment
  • 12
    Just JavaScript
  • 12
    Incremental static regeneration
  • 10
    Filesystem as an API
  • 10
    Frictionless development
  • 9
    Everything is a function
  • 9
    Well Documented
  • 8
    Has many examples and integrations
  • 8
  • 7
    Isomorphic React applications
  • 4
    File based routing + hooks built in
  • 2
  • 1

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Cons of ExpressJS
Cons of Next.js
  • 27
    Not python
  • 17
  • 14
    No multithreading
  • 9
  • 5
    Not fast
  • 3
    Easily Insecure for Novices
  • 9
    Structure is weak compared to Angular(2+)

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- No public GitHub repository available -

What is ExpressJS?

Express is a minimal and flexible node.js web application framework, providing a robust set of features for building single and multi-page, and hybrid web applications.

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a minimalistic framework for server-rendered React applications.

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Blog Posts

Jun 19 2015 at 6:37AM

What are some alternatives to ExpressJS and Next.js?
Koa aims to be a smaller, more expressive, and more robust foundation for web applications and APIs. Through leveraging generators Koa allows you to ditch callbacks and greatly increase error-handling. Koa does not bundle any middleware.
Lots of people use React as the V in MVC. Since React makes no assumptions about the rest of your technology stack, it's easy to try it out on a small feature in an existing project.
Flask is intended for getting started very quickly and was developed with best intentions in mind.
Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.
Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.
See all alternatives