Build Powerful Web Applications With Next.js & Strapi

Ritesh Shah
16 min read
Build Powerful Web Applications

🔔 This article has been updated with the latest information & developments as of April 2023.

If you’re looking to build powerful applications with seamless performance and robust backend capabilities, Next.js and Strapi are two technologies you need to know about. Next.js is a popular React framework for building server-rendered React applications. At the same time, Strapi is a powerful headless CMS that provides a flexible and customisable backend for managing content.

When combined, Next.js and Strapi form a dynamic duo that allows you to create feature-rich applications easily. In this article, we will explore how to leverage the capabilities of Next.js and Strapi to build web applications that are not only performant but also scalable and maintainable. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting, this article will provide you with the knowledge and tools to build modern web applications that meet the demands of today’s digital world.

So let’s dive in and unlock the potential of Next.js and Strapi to build a cutting-edge application that’s bound to captivate your users!

Next.js & Strapi: Introduction 📋

Nowadays, API-centric development architectures are becoming the dominant model for building web applications. The back-end side typically involves setting up an API linked to a relational database, which is primarily a solved problem, using either functional frameworks or tools that enable development with minimal or even zero coding.

Furthermore, this has facilitated a change in the modality of the inner workings of Content Management Systems (CMS). For a long time, data was strongly coupled to its visual interface, i.e. front-end and also to its support.

Most sites were directly connected to their own database, fed by the back-end system. This was the case, for example, of many blog web engines and CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and others.

Using NextJS and Strapi to build web apps

With the diversification of communication mediums, companies have realised the need to centralise their content to distribute it as widely as possible instead of being bottlenecked by a one-dimensional database reliance. This trend was typified by the rapid development migration from the back end to the front end with the emergence of JavaScript and Single Page Applications.

This is how decentralised content management systems (known as a headless CMS) appeared, allowing content to be edited and widely distributed on multiple media from a single API location. Now, let’s understand what Next.js can do when it comes to building robust web applications.

What Is Next.js? ⏭

Next.js is an open-source framework developed by Vercel that uses React library and is based on Node.js and Babel. The framework is typically used to build websites and apps. It’s also used for server-side rendering (SSR), HTTP caching, linting and standardisation, in SEO tools, and automatic code-splitting via dynamic imports or webpack bundles.

NextJS logo

Since Next.js is a React framework, creating universal JavaScript applications is easy.

Due to Next.js’s unique features, like automatic code splitting and server-side rendering, the framework makes application performance optimisation easier relative to other front-end frameworks. Next.js also includes a Router API that makes it easy to create dynamic routing and a CLI tool that makes it easy to set up a Next.js project. 

In addition, Next.js offers first-class support for TypeScript, making it an excellent choice for developers who want to use the latest JavaScript features. Thus, if you’re looking for a React framework to build powerful web apps, Next.js is a practical choice.

🦄 Unique Features Of Next.js

Next.js provides several unique features that make it stand out among other React frameworks. Here are some of the key features of Next.js.

  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR): Next.js allows developers to build server-rendered React applications, where the initial rendering of the pages happens on the server, and the fully-rendered HTML is sent to the client. This helps improve SEO, performance, and user experience by delivering fully-rendered pages to users, which are also readable by search engines.
  • Automatic Code Splitting: Next.js automatically splits the JavaScript code into smaller chunks, allowing for faster initial page loads and improved performance. Only the code required for the current page is loaded, reducing the amount of code that needs to be sent to the client.
  • Static Site Generation (SSG): Next.js supports static site generation, which allows developers to generate static HTML pages at build time. This can significantly improve performance and reduce server load, as static pages can be cached and served directly from a CDN.
  • API Routes: Next.js allows developers to create serverless API routes within their application, making it easy to implement server-side logic and interact with any external APIs, such as JavaScript APIs, without setting up a separate back-end server.
  • Built-in CSS Support: Next.js supports CSS modules and CSS-in-JS out of the box, making it easy to manage CSS styles scoped and modularly. It also supports global CSS styles and provides built-in support for popular CSS preprocessors like Sass and Less.
  • Fullstack Capabilities: Next.js allows developers to build full-stack applications by combining server-rendered React components with server-side logic and APIs, making it possible to create end-to-end web applications using a single framework.
  • Developer Experience: Next.js provides an excellent developer experience with features like hot module replacement, allowing faster development cycles without manually refreshing the page. It also has built-in support for static site hosting and deployment with popular platforms like Vercel, making deploying Next.js applications to production easy.

How Next.js Improves Application Performance 🌟

Next.js provides several features that can help improve application performance.

Firstly, Next.js supports server-side rendering (SSR) by default. SSR allows the initial HTML content of a page to be generated on the server and sent to the client, reducing the amount of JavaScript that needs to be loaded and executed on the client side. This results in faster page load times and improved search engine optimisation (SEO), as search engines can easily crawl and index the pre-rendered HTML content.

Secondly, Next.js offers automatic static site generation (SSG). During the build process, static HTML pages are pre-rendered, which can be served to clients as static files. This eliminates the need for dynamic rendering on the server or client side, resulting in faster page loads and reduced server loads. Static pages can also be easily cached, further improving performance for repeat visitors.

Lastly, Next.js supports code splitting and lazy loading. With code splitting, Next.js can split the JavaScript code into smaller chunks, allowing only the necessary code for a particular page rather than loading the entire codebase. This can significantly reduce the initial load time of a page. Lazy loading allows components or assets to be loaded only when needed, further optimising performance by reducing the amount of unnecessary code or assets loaded upfront.

In short, Next.js improves application performance through server-side rendering, automatic static site generation, code splitting and lazy loading. These features help reduce the amount of JavaScript and assets that need to be loaded, pre-render pages during the build process, and optimise the loading of components and assets, resulting in faster page loads, improved SEO, and reduced server load.

Next, let’s move to the other side of the equation, represented by the CMS, Strapi.

What Is Strapi & What Can You Do With It? 👨‍💻

StrapiJS is an open-source headless CMS that has been gaining in popularity due to its ease of use and versatility in building highly customisable backend solutions through easily manageable APIs written in JavaScript.

But what makes Strapi unique is that it’s built on top of Node.js, a popular open-source JavaScript runtime environment. That means it’s extremely fast and scalable – perfect for large projects. And because it runs on Node.js, it can be used with frameworks like NextJS to create excellent universal applications.

Because this is a headless CMS can be used with any front-end framework, including React, Vue.js, Angular, and Next.js. In fact, it even comes with a starter kit for creating a NextJS website!

The service is free-to-use for developers who can learn everything they need to know about Strapi and build powerful web applications reasonably quickly. This shallow learning curve means this CMS platform is ideal for developers who want to build robust applications in less time and effort. 

Strapi offers a unified admin panel with a drag-and-drop interface, making managing your content accessible. Strapi also provides a wide range of plugins to extend the functionality of any web application that you intend to build utilising the platform.

Strapi logo

Moreover, Strapi also has a great plugin system that allows you to add functionality to your app without coding it yourself. For example, you can use plugins to add social media integration, eCommerce functionality, or custom user interfaces through Strapi’s extensive plugin library. 

In addition, Strapi is highly customisable, so you can tailor it to your specific needs. This headless CMS platform is available in free and paid versions so that you can choose the best option for your budget and scale accordingly.

So, if you’re looking for a robust CMS to help you manage your content and build next-generation web applications, Strapi is worth checking out!

Many large companies and major enterprises like IBM, Discovery Channel, Toyota, Walmart and eBay already use Strapi to build and continually manage their blogs, corporate websites and mobile applications.

Ultimately, Strapi is scalable and highly versatile. It can be used to build web applications of almost any size and scope, from single-page apps to complex multi-faceted web applications. 

But that’s not all. Strapi can also build native mobile apps using React Native or Expo. And if you need to create an API for your app or website, Strapi has you covered there as well. All in all, Strapi is a powerful tool that gives you a lot of flexibility when building web and mobile applications.

Features of Strapi

To add to that, Strapi has many other features, such as the following.

  • An intuitive and interactive back-end customisation interface.
  • An extensive text editor called “Markdown Editor”.
  • Numerous field types allow infinite combinations of data structures.
  • A highly versatile and customisable API.
  • A rich authentication system utilising JSON Web Token(JWT).
  • Allows you to use both GraphQL and REST to retrieve data.
  • An integrated e-mailing system for registration, password reset, and other account management functions.

Why Is Strapi Great For Building Web Applications? 🤷‍♀️

Put simply, Strapi is a good choice for building a web app because it is open source, easy to use, and has a large community of developers who can contribute to the project. 

Strapi is very extensible, meaning that it can be easily customised to fit the needs of your specific project requirements. Additionally, Strapi provides excellent flexibility when it comes to hosting your app. You can host your Strapi app on any platform that supports Node.js, including the most popular hosting providers such as Heroku, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. 

Strapi also has a wide range of documentation and support resources available, making it easy to start building your web app. We’ve also already touched base on the platform’s ease-of-use and learning comfortability aspects in the earlier section of this article.

✨ Advantages Of Strapi

Strapi offers several advantages for developers and content creators alike.

Here are some of the key advantages of using Strapi:

  • Customisation & Flexibility: Strapi provides a highly customisable and flexible CMS solution, allowing developers to define their content types, data structures, and relationships. This enables developers to create custom APIs and deliver content tailored to their needs without being locked into pre-defined content structures.
  • Headless Architecture: Strapi follows a headless CMS approach, which decouples the content creation and delivery processes. This allows developers to use Strapi as a back-end CMS to manage content, while front-end applications can consume the content through APIs. In addition, this provides greater flexibility in how content is displayed and delivered across different platforms and devices, such as websites, mobile apps, or IoT devices.
  • Content Management Capabilities: Strapi offers a wide range of content management features, including an intuitive web-based admin interface for content creation, editing, and publishing. It also provides features like versioning, localisation, media management, and custom roles and permissions, which empower content creators to manage their content efficiently and effectively.
  • Developer-Friendly Tools: Strapi provides a rich set of developer-friendly tools and features, such as GraphQL or REST API, SDKs for different programming languages, and a plugin system for extending functionality. This makes it easy for developers to integrate Strapi into their existing technology stack, build custom solutions, and automate content workflows.
  • Security & Performance: Strapi prioritises safety and performance with features like role-based access control, authentication, and data validation. It also includes built-in caching and supports various databases, allowing developers to optimise performance for their specific use cases.
  • Community & Ecosystem: Strapi has a growing and vibrant community of developers and users, with active support forums, documentation, and community-contributed plugins. The ecosystem around Strapi is expanding, providing a wide range of resources, tutorials, and integrations to facilitate development and streamline workflows.
  • Cost-Effective: As an open-source CMS, Strapi is free to use, which can be cost-effective for businesses and projects with limited budgets. In addition, it allows organisations to leverage their capabilities without incurring expensive licensing fees or subscription costs associated with proprietary CMS solutions.

⛔ Drawbacks Of Strapi

While Strapi offers many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider.

  • Learning Curve: Strapi has a steeper learning curve than other CMS options due to its customisation and configuration options. It requires developers to learn its unique concepts, such as content types, roles, and permissions, which may take some time to understand and master.
  • Customisation Complexity: While Strapi offers a high degree of customisation, it may require advanced technical skills to leverage its features thoroughly. Customising and extending Strapi’s functionality may involve working with its GraphQL or REST API, writing custom plugins, or modifying the underlying code, which may require in-depth knowledge of Strapi’s architecture and technologies.
  • Scalability Limitations: While Strapi is suitable for smaller to medium-sized projects, it may have limitations in handling large-scale and high-traffic applications. As a self-hosted CMS, the scalability of Strapi depends on the hosting infrastructure and configuration, which may require additional effort and resources to optimise for high-traffic loads.
  • Development Overhead: Strapi requires developers to set up and configure the back-end infrastructure, including hosting, databases, and authentication, which may require additional development effort compared to hosted CMS solutions. This can add to the development overhead and complexity, especially for projects with limited development resources or tight deadlines.
  • Maintenance Responsibilities: As an open-source CMS, Strapi requires regular maintenance and updates to ensure security, performance, and stability. This includes managing server infrastructure, applying security patches, and keeping dependencies up-to-date, which may add to the maintenance responsibilities of the development team.
  • Community & Ecosystem: While Strapi has a growing community and ecosystem, it may not have the same level of community support, documentation, and third-party plugins as other popular CMS options, such as HubSpot CMS. This may require developers to invest more time researching and troubleshooting issues or developing custom solutions.

Despite these potential drawbacks, Strapi remains a powerful and flexible CMS that can be a good fit for specific projects, especially those that require customisation, scalability, and control over the content management process. However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate and consider these limitations when choosing Strapi as a CMS for a particular project.

What Can You Do With Next.js & Strapi? 🚀

If your developer knows a thing or two about React, chances are they’ll know how powerful apps built with the help of Next.js can be.

It’s arguably one of the best front-end programming frameworks if you want to build a web app for performance, reliability, and scale. However, the front-end side of the equation in most development projects is rarely a significant roadblock. Most of the time, effort, and resources are spent building and integrating the back-end APIs. Unfortunately, this is also when most bottlenecks and complex issues arise in the development cycle.

But, Strapi will do this hard work for you so that you can focus solely on the front end. Then, with the back-end part taken care of or at least made easier to navigate, you can focus primarily on building a robust application that functions smoothly and is also easy to use.

Woman using NextJS and Strapi together for building web apps

The combination of Next.js and Strapi is incredible. Building an app with Next.js and Strapi is a great way to create content-driven applications. This is because Next.js provides the structure and flexibility you need to quickly build and deploy your app, while strapi makes it easy to manage your content. Together, they provide everything you need to create a powerful website or application.

In other words, combining Next.js and Strapi for web application development offers benefits such as improved performance, flexibility, customisation, security, and a user-friendly interface. This powerful combination allows developers to build high-performance web applications with customisable content management workflows while providing a smooth development experience and options for different business requirements.

With Next.js as your front-end and Strapi as your back-end system, you can build unique web and mobile applications. This combination allows you to build various applications for different purposes, from simple applications like forum apps and blogs to advanced solutions like an extensive eCommerce store and even a podcast app

Putting It All Together 😎

So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide on Next.js and Strapi, two excellent frameworks for building high-performance web applications.

We’ve discussed Next.js and how it can be used as a front-end framework for building web and mobile applications. We’ve also looked at Strapi, an open-source headless CMS platform built on the base of Node.js, perfect for large projects. So, all said, where do you go from here?

If you’d like some help implementing these types of innovative and intuitive development frameworks into a web application for your business, then we’re here to help. Let’s have a chat and discuss how your business can scale and grow through digital innovation.

Published On

October 13, 2022