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Why Is React a Library and Next.js a Framework? Understanding the Difference/



Michael is a software engineer and startup growth expert with 10+ years of software engineering and machine learning experience.

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Why Is React a Library and Next.js a Framework? Understanding the Difference
Why Is React a Library and Next.js a Framework Understanding the Difference

When it comes to web development, terminologies like “library” and “framework” are often thrown around, but what do they really mean? More specifically, why is React referred to as a library while Next.js is considered a framework? In this article, we’ll delve into the distinctions between these two terms and explore why React and Next.js fall into these respective categories.

React: A JavaScript Library

React A JavaScript Library

React is commonly described as a JavaScript library, and for good reason. At its core, React is designed to be a tool for building user interfaces. Here’s why it’s categorized as a library:

1. Focused Functionality

React provides a focused set of features primarily centered around creating and managing the UI components of a web application. It excels at rendering views, handling component states, and efficiently updating the user interface when data changes. React doesn’t impose a specific structure or dictate how you should handle other aspects of your application, such as routing or data fetching.

2. Flexibility

React is flexible and allows developers to make choices regarding the tools and libraries they want to use alongside it. Whether you prefer to manage state with Redux, MobX, or React’s built-in state management, React doesn’t enforce a particular approach.

3. Minimal Boilerplate

React keeps its footprint small, meaning it doesn’t impose a significant amount of boilerplate code. You can get started with React by including a minimal set of libraries, such as ReactDOM for web applications or React Native for mobile app development.

Next.js: A Framework for React

Next.js: A Framework for React

On the other hand, Next.js is often referred to as a framework for React. While Next.js incorporates React as a key part of its technology stack, it extends React’s capabilities and adds more structure to the development process. Here’s why Next.js falls into the framework category:

1. Opinionated Structure

Next.js imposes a clear structure and set of conventions for building web applications. It introduces concepts like server-side rendering (SSR), static site generation (SSG), and file-based routing. These opinionated choices make it easier for developers to get started quickly and maintain a consistent project structure.

2. Built-In Features

Next.js includes built-in features that go beyond React’s core capabilities. This includes server-side rendering, automatic code splitting, routing, and API routes. These features reduce the need for developers to make choices about how to implement these functionalities themselves.

3. Batteries Included

Next.js is often described as a “batteries included” framework. It provides essential tools and configurations out of the box, so developers can focus on building their applications rather than configuring build pipelines or setting up routing.


In summary, React and Next.js are different tools with distinct purposes in the world of web development. React serves as a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, offering flexibility and minimalism. In contrast, Next.js is a framework built on top of React, providing an opinionated structure and a range of built-in features to simplify web application development.

Ultimately, the choice between React and Next.js depends on the specific requirements of your project. If you need a lightweight library for creating user interfaces and are comfortable making choices about other aspects of your application, React is a solid choice. However, if you prefer a structured framework that streamlines many common development tasks, Next.js might be the better fit.

To stay informed about the latest developments in React, Next.js, and web development in general, visit slashdev.io. Our platform offers valuable insights, tutorials, and resources to help you make informed decisions in your web development journey.

Visit slashdev.io for more insights on web development and frameworks. Slashdev.io is your go-to source for staying updated and empowered in the ever-evolving world of web technology and development.