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Next.js vs Gatsby: Meeting Points, Differences, and the Best Ways to Use

18 Feb 2021

There is no doubt that the frameworks backed by JavaScript are integral units of most web development projects today. What is the best library for your future software solution? The dilemma is still open, but according to the Stack Overflow survey, the React library heads the ranking of the most loved and wanted web frameworks with 74.5% of developers’ preference.

Such popularity opened the door to a set of instruments based upon the React library to make it more efficient and applicable. Next.js and Gatsby frameworks are integral components of the React ecosystems. It’s hard to say which framework is the ace of aces, as both services have meeting points, differences, and specific areas to be applied. In other words, Next.js and Gatsby have equal rights to exist within the ecosystem.

As of now, many global companies, media platforms, and organizations are harnessing the potential of these frameworks. For instance, Next.js has become top of mind for such large-scale market players as TikTok, Netflix Jobs, Twitch,  Hulu, Nike, AT&T, Tencent, and many others. In its turn, Gatsby has been chosen as their favorite tool for building websites by companies like  Stack, Snapchat, Tinder, Revolut, Clubhouse, the official React Library website, Airbnb, etc.

Next.js: general overview and operating principles

What is the Next.js (Next) framework, and why should you dive into its operating principles?

Next was launched in 2016 by the ZEIT company, like a minimalistic framework for React applications server rendering. The top-3 basic principles of Next.js are SSR, ACS, and HMR. What do these abbreviations mean for a user and a development team?

  • SSR (Server Side Rendering). End users expect to download a webpage in milliseconds, forcing developers to face additional challenges. The Next framework makes all user-oriented React components render on the server-side. Furthermore, the SSR factor makes a positive impact on a webpage’s SEO. Hence, you may develop necessary React components just once, and Next.js tackles further re-rendering processes.

  • ACR (Automatic Code Splitting). The Next framework downloads JavaScript and CSS components required for a webpage. As such, the service shortens the time necessary for a web page download.

  • HMR (Hot Module Placement). Such a factor affects developers more than end-users. Next.js empowers developers with the capability to access changes within the shortest time. Compared to other methods, the framework reloads only changed modules to cut time expenses for monitoring changes.

To summarize, Next.js saves both end-users’ and developers’ time. According to JavaScript Scene, the annual number of Next.js downloads exceeds 11 million.

Gatsby.js: general overview and operating principles

Let’s now dig into the key-note operating principles of Gatsby.

Gatsby.js is a static site generator that empowers developers to build or rebuild a PWA with the highest loading speed. The framework was launched by Kyle Mathews in 2017. A quick response of web pages, convenient usage, and own content are among the core Gatsby principles.


  • Lighting speed of webpage loading. Gatsby builds up a project in files that you can place and access on any file hosting. Therefore, webpages are loading immediately.

  • No servers and databases. While placing traditional architecture-based websites on hosting, there are risks of failure due to high traffic indexes. However, Gatsby is based on serverless architecture, excluding such risks.

  • Own content. Development teams frequently face problems with new frameworks that require them to create a project from the very beginning. Gatsby is a perfect solution from this viewpoint, as the framework is compliant with existing CMS: WordPress, Drupal, JAMStack etc.

According to the BuiltWith Trends survey, the number of websites using Gatsby has already surpassed 149 000.

Meeting points of Gatsby and Next.js


These frameworks are applied to solve different problems. Nevertheless, Gatsby and Next.js have much in common.

When your team knows how to build React-based websites, both frameworks are easy for understanding. Next.js and Gatsby can be quickly integrated with your services, being compliant with new features. Both frameworks comprise the hot reloading option for less time-consuming development of websites. Furthermore, these services contain inbuilt routing for new web page creation.

The two frameworks provide a web page intelligent download due to preliminary desynchronized download of links for next pages. As such, websites built appropriately based on either Gatsby or Next.js get the highest Lighthouse marks.



Top-rated benefits of Next.js vs Gatsby

If you are looking for a precise answer on what is better between Next.js and Gatsby, we have bad news: it doesn’t exist. Two popular frameworks have benefits and cons, but these apply to different tasks. That’s why advantages may turn out disadvantages under certain conditions and vice versa.

Gatsby is equipped with a GraphQL instrument called GraphiQL, and developers point out this peculiarity among the top benefits of the framework. This instrument saves developers’ trouble of analyzing documentation of an applied data source. GraphiQL empowers a developer to do it interactively. That means you may select what you need. As a result, the framework automatically creates GraphiQL-based requests to transfer them into components.


The next strong side of Gatsby lies in multiple plugins launched for this framework. These plugins are responsible for diverse aspects, starting with SEO and ending by GraphQL-scheme export. As for Next.js, developers face the lack of default means for data management. They have to spend extra time to comprehend which instruments to utilize in each case.

The Next framework utilizes the routing model based on files’ names. Thuswise, you spend less time searching for necessary pages and samples, even working with a new project. The framework empowers developers to combine static pages with dynamically generated ones. These two mechanisms can be united within one web page that simplifies lookahead functionality.

Both Gatsby and Next.js are used for creating an incremental distribution. Meanwhile, Gatsby requires to host a website on Gatsby Cloud that demands special plugins.

Let’s sum up the top-rated benefits and cons of Next.js and Gatsby:

Tasks when Gatsby becomes the right choice

Analytics accentuate that Gatsby is the best solution for a static website and dynamic applications (SPA or MPA).

For instance, you need a static website with tens of static webpages. Some pages are updated regularly, while most of them aren’t. Such a website maintains SEO. As for special requirements, each user should get the same content.

The number of webpages is foreseeable, and there is no necessity to load those pages on a server, as the content is static. Gatsby is launched primarily for websites of such type. The framework offers developers a number of plugins for content upload from diverse CMS, databases, Rest API, and GraphQL. Furthermore, Gatsby contains plugins compatible with different data formats (JSON, MDX, etc.) The framework includes simple features for the creation and hosting of such websites.


As a result:

  • Developers may switch an accent for marketing and style solutions.
  • Gatsby splits data, empowering non-developers with the right to edit content.
  • A set of Gatsby plugins makes the development process shorter.

Yet another example lies in the demand for a dynamic application. For instance, you need a web application for your product that is visible after authentication only. Such an application requires no SEO. Minimum response time is a top priority in this case.

Although Gatsby has a primary focus on static websites, the framework re-hydrates React components on the client-side. As such, you may utilize Gatsby for clients’ application creation. The framework maintains the default code splitting and inbuilt mechanisms for multipage applications. Furthermore, Gatsby contains inbuilt routing on the client-side, cutting the response time.

As a result:

  • Gatsby provides automatic code-splitting, routing on the client-side to make the webpage response time as short as possible.

Tasks when Next.js becomes the right choice

This framework is considered the best solution when you need to build multiuser websites or hybrid web applications.

When you need a website filled with content uploaded by authorized users, and the content is displayed to users based on their interests and preferences, Next.js is a perfect choice for such demands. Gatsby cannot compile static HTML for each user. The server side rendering helps to build authentication-based visualization.

Since the content is being created by numerous users and grows with new users joining a website, the content compilation to a static website seems impossible during the distribution.

As a result:

  • The SSR instrument is responsible for such a multiuser website visualization.

Hybrid web applications require Next.js to combine both SSR and CSR instruments. For instance, a user enters his social network account, and the framework uploads previous posts through the SSR instrument, but when a user scrolls his page down, the system loads more posts. On the other hand, when a user enters an application without authentication, the system displays an application shell and JavaScript on the client-side.

As a result:

  • The combination of SSR and CSR instruments provides the best functionality of hybrid apps.

There are some exceptions when Gatsby is suitable for hybrid applications, and Next.js is the best choice for dynamic client-side-based applications. Gatsby is not the only Next.js alternative. LoopBack, Hugo, Angular Universal, and other frameworks are used for websites and web application creation.


How to implement Next.js and Gatsby

The advantages of Next.js and Gatsby for some tasks are evident. Meanwhile, many development teams utilize frameworks of the previous generation because of the complexity of new instruments. Let’s clear the situation up. When you implement something new, you always get more than you spend. It is the universal truth applicable to all businesses.

We are ready to help business owners and developers to implement Next.js or Gatsby frameworks, moving the company to the next level. Take into account the pros and cons of these two frameworks to understand which one matches your tasks. Our experienced specialists may help you come up with the right decision. Contact us for more detailed information.

Whether you are creating a cloud-based or a hybrid solution, we have the technical expertise you need.
About the Author
Valeriy is CEO of ByteAnt with over 15 years of experience in software development always focusing and embracing new technologies IoT and SaaS. Besides leading the ByteAnt, Valeriy is a public speaker on tech talks, events, and meetups; mentor and marathon runner.

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