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Building Modern Web Architectures With React & Next.js

Dec 26th, 2020
React is a modern open-source front-end JavaScript library for building web and mobile UI components. In a recent 2021 Developer Survey by Stack Overflow, React was rated as the most popular web framework . A few reasons it deserves this distinction are its ease of use, flexibility of development, and its ability to deliver high-performance web and mobile applications. Some of the world's largest companies use React, including Netflix, Facebook, Airbnb, Reddit, and others.
When it comes to building modern applications, React is typically combined with frameworks such as Next.js, a react framework created by Vercel, based on Node.js and Babel. In a recent survey to assess the state of frontend development, Next.js had emerged as the second most-used static site generator. Next.js supports various features, including fixed site generation, server-side rendering, client-side pre-rendering, improved compilation times, preview mode, and others. With Next.js, the development of react apps is made simple, and in just a few clicks, you can get ready for deployment.

Incorporating React and Next.js in your architecture

Back in 2011, when managing cascading updates to the Facebook Ads became difficult, the engineers at Facebook identified the need for an urgent update to their existing codebase. This gave birth to what we now call React. It is essentially a Javascript library that is easily extendable, has a minimal footprint, and can be customized for almost any project at hand. React's public release has launched a revolution in the industry, and it has become the most used Javascript Framework for frontend development as per the 2020 Developer Survey by Stack Overflow.
Despite its advantages, React is not free of flaws. Essentially, it mainly covers the application’s presentation UI layers and nothing else. This means that developers still need to pick other technologies to get a complete set of development tools and workflows for their projects. For example, React is frequently combined with other technologies like Redux to manage the application state better. The need for an efficient framework that provides additional capabilities and a better workflow evolved into Next.js, a development framework that React has been missing for a long time.
Next.js makes development easier and comes with all of the popular features of React right out of the box - server-side rendering, routing, code-splitting, and webpack support. Features such as static site creation and server-side rendering make web apps blazingly fast. With features like routing, you can easily bundle your apps with third-party APIs. With webpack, you can improve web application performance by inlining assets in your JavaScript bundles to avoid additional web requests. With Next.js, there is a slight learning curve, and even developers new to the world of the frontend can get up and running relatively quickly.
Because React and Next.js are heavily API-based JavaScript technologies, combining them with a serverless database makes a lot of sense. That is the reason why they are commonly used in JAMstack architectures. JAMstack is a software architecture and philosophy that adheres to the following components: Javascript, APIs, and Markup.
  • Javascript (J): Javascript allows you to provide all the interactive and dynamic bits of your webpage, all inside an HTML file, to be served to the browser. React, and Next.js make this process simpler and more organized.
  • APIs (A): APIs make a JAMstack app dynamic and enhance the user experience by allowing the web application to avail different services like search, authentication, etc. Server-side operations, including access to other services and databases, are abstracted into APIs.
  • Markup (M): Markup is the first part you’re serving to the client, be it code that compiles down to HTML or HTML through a static site generator. To be considered a JAMstack app, the HTML needs to be served statically, which means not being dynamically rendered from a server.
Here are a few key benefits of using JAMstack based architectures: With JAMstack, all the assets of your web application are pre-rendered into highly optimized static pages that sit at the CDN (Content Delivery Network), ready to serve a client. This makes web applications that use JAMstack blazingly fast since they only need to fetch data from the CDN.
Server-side operations, database operations, and third-party services are abstracted behind reusable APIs in a JAMstack architecture. This decoupling of services makes development more efficient by-
  • Enabling developers to make changes and troubleshoot issues more efficiently with targeted development.
  • Providing more developer agility by making it easy to extend features via an on-demand API.
  • Improving code lifecycle since this model fits seamlessly in a CI/CD model.

Connecting React and Next.js to a serverless database

JAMstack apps based on React and Next.js need a secure data platform directly accessible from the browser. Typically, serverless database platforms are ideal for serving and querying data in real-time.
But first, what is a serverless database? To put it simply, a serverless database is a database where there are no database instances to manage by the developer. In this case, the burden of database management is shifted from the developer to the serverless database provider. The serverless database providers manage the distribution of system resources, independently scaling out storage and processing. This makes it easy to handle rapidly-changing unpredictable workloads.
Enterprises benefit from adopting serverless in many ways. Here are just a few of these benefits-
  • With no database instances to manage in a serverless architecture, there is reduced financial and operational overhead for an enterprise. This means reduced costs and more savings.
  • By utilizing a serverless database, developers can focus on what matters instead of worrying about infrastructure. This increases developer agility.

Are you looking for a serverless database that can be used to build modern web applications?

Fauna is a serverless, transactional database delivered as a secure cloud API that gives you the scalability to build a new business or modernize existing applications. From a JAMstack perspective, Fauna is tailor-made for working with React and Next.js applications. It is the “A” in JAMstack and can be easily integrated into your next modern web application.
Fauna is a flexible, developer-friendly, transactional database delivered as a secure and scalable cloud API that gives you the data safety, security, and scalability you need to build a new business or modernize existing applications. It delivers a robust data management experience with native support for GraphQL and scales transparently with your traffic. Fauna eliminates the overhead of managing database resources, adding middleware, and stitching your backend. This frees your developers to focus their efforts on building their applications.

If you enjoyed our blog, and want to work on systems and challenges related to globally distributed systems, serverless databases, GraphQL, and Jamstack, Fauna is hiring!

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